August 21, 2012

Top chefs cook for Hualapai

Top Chef: Masters Heats Up as World-Renowned Chefs Cook For the Hualapai on the Rim At Grand Canyon West

By Colin DaviauBRAVO channel’s Top Chef: Masters episode, which first aired on August 15, 2012, featured eight world-renowned chefs cooking for Hualapai Tribal Members on the Rim at Grand Canyon West. During the dramatic cooking challenge, the chefs prepared dishes using traditional Hualapai ingredients such as rabbit, quail, venison, banana yucca and prickly pear. The Hualapai and Top Chef: Masters judges were served four dishes on a banquet table just feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon creating a breathtaking backdrop to the dramatic competition.

The chefs prepared the traditional ingredients on cooking stations also just feet from the rim. “I feel quite honored to be invited by the elders of the Hualapai tribe to cook for them,” said Top Chef: Masters competitor, Clark Fraiser. “To take their traditional Native American ingredients, and perhaps elevate them to a new level, is something that we can give, as chefs, to honor them.”

Hualapai elders and youth gave their thoughts on the meals to the show’s host Curtis Stone and esteemed judges. “I used to go with my aunt, sitting right down there [pointing to the other end of the table], to drive down to the Colorado River and pick prickly pears …it’s just like I’m back in the 50’s [referring to the prickly pear dish],” said Wynona Sinyella, Hualapai Tribal Elder.

To show their appreciation after the meal, the Hualapai included the chefs in a traditional dance accompanied by the rhythmic Hualapai gourds and song. “After the service, the Hualapai dance. There’s women in beautiful outfits, there’s young people, there’s old people, it’s obviously a big thank you from them to us, which is satisfying. There’s an incredible world there [Grand Canyon West] that’s very humbling,” said Top Chef: Masters competitor, Clark Fraiser.
Comment:  For more on Native cooking, see Chef Wolfman's Aboriginal Fusion, The Algonquin Martha Stewart, and Apaches in No Kitchen Required.

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