April 27, 2008

Native cooking at the US Grant

Food for ThoughtI overheard someone say, "Have you tried the food? It's out of this world."

Correction: It was out of Indian Country, via the cookbook of Mark Kropczynski, the French-trained executive chef of The US Grant, a downtown hotel owned by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

All the ingredients, Kropczynski explained, came from tribes or Native-owned businesses. For example, the Native wild rice came from the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation in Minnesota, and the buffalo ribeye from Pride of the Little Rockies, a smokehouse on Montana's Fort Belknap Reservation.
Chefs in TrainingFar from home on the Navajo reservation, four culinary arts students made their largest cooking debut for hundreds of hungry strangers at the five-star US Grant hotel.

The beginning students traveled 730 miles from Crownpoint, N.M., to downtown San Diego to share their culinary skills at Sunday's Celebration of Native Culture, which kicked off the National Indian Gaming Association's 17th annual meeting and trade show.

"I've worked for the biggest restaurant in New Mexico, but this is pretty big for me," said Travis Freeland, 23, one of the four students chosen from Navajo Technical College to participate in a "mini internship" during the four-day convention.

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