Nova Scotia Community·DEVOUR!

Chef Joseph Shawana shares a favourite Indigenous recipe

Indigenous food is something special and it’s a food system that acclaimed Chef Joseph Shawana admits was almost lost. 

Acclaimed chef shares his love of authentic Indigenous cuisine at Devour! The Food Film Fest

Chef Joesph Shawana will give an Indigenous Culinary Master Class for Youth on Friday, Oct. 22 at Devour! The Food Film Fest. (Courtesy Devour! The Food Film Fest)
Indigenous food is something special and it's a food system that acclaimed Chef Joseph Shawana admits was almost lost. 

"Today we are researching stories that feature our foods and recipes. So when you come and eat with any one of us you will experience something that was almost gone," says Chef Shawana, who is Odawa, part of the Three Fires Confederacy.

Born and raised in Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve in Ontario, Shawana was brought up knowing that food is life. 

"I always wanted to become a chef, right from a young age—my mother and grandmother were always cooking," says Chef Shawna, who is in Wolfville, N.S. for Devour! The Food Film Fest.

At the age of 13, he quickly fell in love with authentic Indigenous cuisine. Today, his classical French training and Aboriginal background combine to create authentic, Native American cuisine executed with world-class culinary technique.  

"My mother and grandmother were and still are huge influences in my cooking. I didn't really understand our foods until I moved to Toronto, when my friends really got me thinking by asking questions about what our food was like and how it was growing up," he says.

Currently, he is a professor, the chair of Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations, and the Indigenous culinary advisor at Ontario's Centennial College. Chef Shawana is also the force behind the high-end Indigenous restaurant, Kūkŭm Kitchen, which won the "Best World Cuisine" award in 2019.

He was named on the list of Top Ten Chefs of Ontario, has received rave reviews in numerous publications – including The New York Times and Food & Wine – and is a sought-after voice on the emergence of Indigenous culinary around the globe. 

At Devour! Chef Shawana and seven other Indigenous chefs will be featuring food that comes "from our lands, and most importantly, from our hearts."

Chef Shawana shares one his favourite recipes: Pine Needle Sorbet.

"My most favourite recipe I have – and it's my go-to – is something that brings back childhood memories—my pine needle sorbet," he says. "Every time I eat that, a flash of memories come to me from when I was a child playing with my close friends in the winter."

Pine Needle Sorbet 

Makes 4 L

4 cups water
2 cups dried pine needles
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 sugar
4 limes


Bring water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add sugar, maple syrup and pine needles and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of four limes. 

Remove from heat and strain for pine needles.
Set liquid aside and cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Using an ice cream machine, pour mixture into machine and set timer for one hour. 
Scoop out sorbet and serve with dried berries.