June 21, 2012

The Algonquin Martha Stewart

Marie-Cecile Nottaway Is the Algonquin Martha Stewart

By Martha TroianShe gently pulls canoes out of fortune-cookie dough, bakes a mean bannock and does not shy away from roasting a beaver. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out—or Marie-Cecile Nottaway will do it for you.

Fresh berries, maple syrup, homemade bannock and roasted beaver are standard fare for this Algonquin woman who, inspired by family recipes, has built a booming catering business that puts a contemporary spin on her nation’s traditional food. You could say food is in her blood. But while she may seem to be channeling Martha Stewart, Nottaway—who has a degree in culinary arts—says the true trained chefs in her life were her kokomic, her Algonquin grandmothers.

Nottaway, originally from Rapid Lake, Quebec, is the owner and powerhouse behind Wawatay Catering, so named in honor of family members who have passed on. Wawatay means northern lights in the Algonquin language and represents the colors of the spirits of the ancestors who continue to guide their loved ones from the spirit world.

“Wawatay is also my dad’s last name and my grandfather’s,” says Nottaway. “It represents who I am.”
Comment:  For more on Native chefs, see Navajo Chef Advises in Minnesota and Tlingit Chef Promotes Local Foods.

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