Indigenous women chefs take Canadian cooking shows by storm


Two Indigenous women are the talk of the cooking TV show circuit and for good reason.

Jodi Robson from Regina, Sask., is a wife and mom of two who wowed The Great Canadian Baking Show, making it to the top three finalists, while Siobhan Detkavich is the youngest chef who will compete on Top Chef Canada’s upcoming season, which debuts April 19.

Robson, who grew up on Okanese First Nation, learned to cook from her kookum.

She says they’d watch her “cook by feel’ – no measurements or recipe books—and were often tasked with helping as her grandmother wanted them out from under foot and put to use learning the skill of feeding their family.

“Always was a dream of mine to cook on TV – I  used to watch cooking shows as a little girl growing up on the rez with only three channels,” Robson said on the April 14 edition of InFocus.

Watching her kookum show and explain each step in the process was like being part of a cooking show in real life.

“I wanted everyone to experience watching her cook and  I thought if I could get on a cooking show or baking show I could do what I always wanted her to do. It was just a dream I can’t believe it happened,” she said.

While many either love to cook or bake, Robson says she loves both equally.

“Honestly I just love to eat. We harvest our own vegetables and pick our own berries and hunt. There’s just something magical about taking ingredients you’ve sourced and putting them together and making something incredible and filling bellies and visiting,” she said

“I really think the emotion you put in your food impacts the people who eat it.”

She shares a family favorite – Saskatoon tart, which she says brings memories of summer.

Robson hopes The Great Canadian Baking Show isn’t her last TV competition. She would like to do a cooking show in the future.

Saskatoon Berry Tarts - By Jodi Robson

Recipe makes two 5″ tarts

Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks (save whites for egg wash on crust before baking)
  • 2-3 tbsp ice cold water

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Work butter into the flour until it resembles course crumbs. You can use a pastry cutter, two knives or a food processor for this. I use my hands and just crumble up the butter into the flour with my fingers.

Work in the egg yolks and half of the water, add more water if needed to bring the dough together. Knead on a floured surface a few times to make smooth, be careful to not over handle or dough will be tough. Wrap in plastic film and fridge until needed.

Filling:

  • 3 cups fresh (or frozen) saskatoon berries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 2 tbsps extra
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Juice from half a lemon

In a saucepan combine berries, water and sugar. Set over medium high heat. Cook until berries are softened slightly and sugar is fully dissolved stirring gently.

Next, mix together in a small bowl the extra sugar and cornstarch. Mix cornstarch and sugar into the berries and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until mixture thickens, then continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. set aside while preparing tart shells.

Preheat oven 425 F.

On a floured surface roll out dough to about 1/8 “thick cut out two 7″circles. Reroll dough and cut out two 5″ circles as well as any extra embellishments you might like. Line the tart shells with the 7″ circles and fill generously with berry filling, top with 5” circles and crimp edges. decorate and  brush with egg wash (remaining egg whites and a tbsp of water)

Bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350F and continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove and let cool completely before removing from tart pan.

Enjoy!

Siobhan Detkavich of Cowichan Tribes is the youngest competitor on this season’s Top Chef Canada on The Food Network.

At just 21, she’s already a kitchen veteran, having been training since she was 16.

“Coming from an (Indigenous)  background people have this ideology on the whole nation,” said the young chef, who in real life works at the Mission Hill Winery restaurant in Kelowna, B.C.

“Growing up with that, it fuels something deep down. It’s a huge deal for someone like me to be on Top Chef Canada not only because I’m representing a young generation but an entire Indigenous nation.

Asked what she would do if she won the $100,000 prize? Pay off debt and sock a bunch away.

Detkavich said she hopes her career takes her traveling the world to experience authentic regional cuisine around the globe.

Host, Producer / Winnipeg

Melissa is a proud Red River Metis and award-winning journalist who has spent more than 24 years covering crime, courts, politics, business and entertainment for newspapers in four provinces.
She then joined APTN Investigates in 2009 and APTN National News in 2018 and in that time has garnered numerous awards and nominations including from the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (2013), Canadian Association of Journalists (2016, 2019) and Canadian Screen Awards (2018, 2019).