After struggling to find anything she could call New Zealand food, the idea of cooking with indigenous ingredients began to burn in chef Monique Fiso’s mind. It led Fiso, of Māori and Samoan descent, to open Hiakai in Wellington, dishing up Māori fine-dining cuisine and clinching a spot on TIME’s 2019 list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places.
She serves plates such as marshmallows flavoured with dehydrated tarata leaves or kawahai, a local fish that’s cured and dry-aged with a manono bark mix, then sliced and served with pickled melon. Fiso sees an increased interest in native flavours, saying, “It shows more of what our country has to offer aside from the usual lamb, pavlovas and lamingtons.”
Mark McConnell and Cecilia Rikard are also pioneering modern indigenous cuisine. The co-owners of Seattle’s Off the Rez, which started as a food truck in 2011, have recently opened their first permanent café at the Burke Museum, offering Native American fare such as frybreads and Indian tacos with braised bison – all inspired by McConnell’s childhood. “A lot of what we have are things I grew up eating with my Native American family,” he says.
And in Swedish Lapland, a short journey from Stockholm, Kristoffer Åström – head chef of the restaurant at the new Arctic Bath hotel in Harads – also relies on his indigenous Sámi roots to deliver upscale dining through the likes of pickled onion and yoghurt with surströmming (fermented herring), and slow-cooked reindeer with almond-potato purée.
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This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine