The holiday is over. The cookies are gone. The belly and love handles are not. Time to think about joining a gym, eating healthy. To ease your way and help you make the best of those intentions; meet Chef Andrew George Jr., author of Modern Native Feasts.
From camp cook for local mining companies, to restaurant cook, culinary teacher and chef, Chef George's training and experience have led him to become a master chef. His intention is not only to share native recipes however. Through his cookbooks, teaching and community activism, Chef George hopes to better educate governments, industry and stakeholders on how traditional resources can be used and managed.
Chef George, who taught you to cook?
There were six children in my family and our mother, Rita George, taught us all how to cook. She was very busy during the summer months, and our dad was frequently away working , so she made sure we knew how to take care of ourselves. Living on the Indian reservation, we spent a good deal of time hunting, fishing, and picking berries. Mom taught us how to cook over an open campfire while we were in the outdoors.
As a young boy, I got a job in the mining camp as a surveyor. They quickly discovered my skills and I also became the camp cook. When I got old enough, I took cooking classes in school. One of my high school counselors recognized my talent and suggested that I go to cooking school after I graduated high school.
When did you know you wanted to do this for a living?
Good question. From a very young age, I was always interested in cooking. I was constantly looking for ways to improve recipes and procedures in my mom’s kitchen. In 1984, I entered the Vancouver Vocational Institute kitchen, and I knew I had found exactly what I wanted to do. I have been enjoying cooking ever since. I still learn something new nearly every day.
What 5 ingredients are most important to have for good cooking?
That depends on what you are cooking. Here is where I always start:
1. Fresh protein (fish, poultry, game, or seafood)
2. Fresh local vegetables
3. Fresh herbs and spices
4. Homemade stock for soups and sauces
5. Most importantly: love. Every recipe tastes better when you know where your ingredients come from and you’ve taken time with your family to prepare and enjoy the meal.
What makes your cookbook especially interesting and different from others?
"Modern Native Feasts" is unique because it takes traditional aboriginal products and fuses them into contemporary, user-friendly dishes.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite recipe out of "Modern Native Feasts" is the Buffalo Rib Steak and Blackberry Au-jus. My all-time favorite food is half dried salmon straight out of my mom’s smoke house or her savory steak recipe.