Embracing Indigenous Flavours: A Culinary Partnership for Cultural Understanding

On February 8, we proudly hosted an Indigenous Cuisine Spotlight and Training for our culinary team at one of our Chartwells facilities in Toronto, Ontario. We welcomed Chef Zach Keeshig to teach 17 Compass Group Canada Chef’s 8 Indigenous inspired recipes and culinary philosophies.

Chef Zach is a professional chef from Owen Sound, Ontario who refers to his cuisine as “progressive Aboriginal.” He proudly weaves his philosophy of connecting to the land with his culinary experience by fusing his Oijbwa background alongside the French techniques he has learned throughout his career.

During the 8-hour educational session, Chef Zach taught our teams how to prepare progressive and authentic Indigenous cooking traditions and techniques. This inspirational and educational teaching event encouraged our chefs to take these recipes and culinary philosophies back to their kitchens to share with their teams, clients and guests.

The aim of this event was not just to expand our menu, but to foster a genuine understanding and respect for Indigenous cultures. Chef Zach shared the importance of integrating his Oijbwa heritage into his “progressive Aboriginal” cuisine alongside many stories of his communities’ traditions, values and beliefs. Our chefs learned that the importance of historical Indigenous cooking is the desire to form a deeper connection to the land. Chef Zach also shared that a big piece of his culinary philosophy is how to create recipes with ingredients that you have responsibly sourced and cultivated yourself. By cooking with foraged ingredients, traditional Indigenous food contributes to not only your physical health, but your spiritual and cultural health as well.

At Compass Group Canada, we believe it is extremely important to integrate Indigenous recipes into our menus as well as sharing the historical significance of their philosophies with our teams. We are committed to encouraging diverse menu offerings and education within our culinary teams while celebrating the unique contributions of every individual and providing a welcoming environment for all to thrive.

While the Toronto session is the first event our Culinary team has hosted, we are thrilled to offer this program across the country on a quarterly basis going forward. Our goal is simple, to encourage our chefs to continue evolving while learning how to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into their kitchens and within their teams.

A photo collage of Compass Group Canada Chefs preparing Indigenous Cuisine

After our event, we had the chance to chat with a few of our chef participants, here is what they had to say:

“As a chef who previously did not have much experience with Indigenous cuisine, this experience was a great learning opportunity for me. Chef Zach taught us recipes inspired by Indigenous tradition with a touch of modern cuisine. We learned how to make dishes with extraordinary flavour made from the simplest of ingredients – something I look forward to taking back to my kitchen, teaching my team and adding to our menu!”

– Chef Frederic Pouch, Chef, Chartwells

“For me, this event was both educational and entertaining. It was very interesting to see different preparation and cooking processes and techniques that can completely change the way a dish finishes! Chef Zach brings so much passion to his cooking and I loved learning the story of why each dish and recipe is the way it is. Having the opportunity to work with and learn from such a great team is so important – Chefs can teach Chefs a whole bunch of different things.”

– Chef Ryan Dona, Executive Chef, Chartwells

“This event was a fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively with our chefs in learning about Indigenous cuisine. Learning, and working hands on with Chef Zach gave me much more confidence in cooking Indigenous cuisine without fear of misrepresenting. Culinary is so expansive, and there’s an infinite supply of knowledge for us chefs to learn from. Nobody knows everything and so I’m grateful we can be the student from time to time and get a chance to learn, gather and share knowledge.”

– Chef Eugene, Executive Chef, Chartwells

“This event was a wonderful opportunity to learn about how traditionally grown ingredients can be respectfully used in modern cuisine. Chef Zach taught us about food culture, seasonal ingredients and how to relate to the food of the land including “why we eat, what we eat and when we eat.” I am excited to share with my team the techniques I learned, how to give the utmost respect to the ingredients we use and how we can use the traditional cuisine of the land to feed the next generation.

– Chef Sandeep Kachroo, Executive Chef, Chartwells”

Compass Group

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