Muckleshoot Tribal Cooks Retreat

This past weekend, PSFN’s Farm to Table (F2T) Coordinator, Karen Mauden, was invited to attend the first ever Tribal Cooks Retreat at Bastyr University. Hosted by Muckleshoot Senior Program (a F2T meal-provider partner) and Northwest Indian College, this 2-day retreat helped “sharpen both knives and healthy cooking skills” of selected tribal cooks working at Muckleshoot School, Senior and Daycare feeding sites.  This training opportunity is especially exciting for PSFN’s F2T Team, as it addresses skill development for both senior and child care meal providers, the dual foci of the F2T project.

Chef Tom French, Founder/Director of Experience Food Project; Valerie Segrest, Native Foods Nutritionist and Wendy Burdette, Muckleshoot Senior Program Manager created an eventful and meaningful curriculum.

Saturday’s agenda included:

  • Basic skills: knives, kitchen organization, time management
  • Foraging Native Foods and Plants
  • Balancing menus using fresh foods from the Pacific Northwest
  • Cooking methods with whole grains
  • Salad Dressing and Sauce Preparation
  • Integrating Nuts, Herbs and Berries into dishes
  • Creating shared meals with local foods
  • Friendly Team competitions

Chef Tom noted that originally tribes foraged, gathered, hunted and fished for their food. This does not typically happen in society in general anymore. Now, food comes to us, which limits our choices. As we return to gardening and foraging we can select our food with purpose and intention.  These themes fit well into tribal culture which Valerie and Wendy seek to encourage. At Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Wendy has partnered hunters, gatherers and fishermen with specific tribal elders who are no longer are able to participate in those activities. This has created a greater bond of community, commitment to traditions and hope that future generations will eat and celebrate northwest native foods and traditions, which in turn will lead to better health.

Tribal cooks were thrilled with the retreat. They were challenged to, and succeed in, presenting plates with a rainbow of colors and bursting with flavor. Splitting into teams from School Lunch, Senior Feeding and Daycare cooks were challenged to create and present nutritious, balanced and welcoming meals. The results included beautiful Breakfast Frittatas, Poached eggs on Herbed Potatoes, Bountiful Vegetarian Breakfast Burritos, Hazelnut Encrusted Salmon and much more. It seemed everyone felt empowered to return to the tribal community and create healthier, more colorful and flavorful foods from the bounty of the Pacific Northwest.

What a great event! PSFN is overjoyed to be working with Wendy and with Muckleshoot Indian Tribe on the Farm to Table project. We’re very impressed at the focus given to kitchen skills and training by the tribe. These are necessary skills for working with the fresh, whole foods the F2T project makes available to meal -provider partners, and we’re inspired by their initiative! While popping into the retreat, Karen delivered Muckleshoot’s first F2T delivery: 50 lbs of potatoes from Full Circle. Here’s to the beginning of what we hope will be a very successful partnership!

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