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Culture on a Plate | Making Grilled Salmon Skewers with Chef Andrew George

Culture on a Plate | Making Grilled Salmon Skewers with Chef Andrew George

Jan 11, 2023
Category: General 

Chef Andrew George Jr. is a chef and a hereditary chief who keeps blazing the trail for Indigenous cooking in British Columbia and across Canada. He is of Wet’suwet’en decent belonging to the Bear clan (Gitdumden) and Grizzly house (Cas yex).

Growing up off-reserve, his love for traditional cooking was inspired by how he was raised fishing, hunting and cooking on an open fire with his family. In 2022, SkilledTradesBC appointed Chef Andrew as the Director for Truth and Reconciliation to lead efforts in supporting greater Indigenous participation and success in skilled trades.

He develops Indigenous menus for restaurants and hotels internationally, and teaches cooking to Indigenous students. His two cookbooks, A Feast for All Seasons and Modern Native Feasts, bring Indigenous dishes to households around the globe.


What inspired you to become a chef? 

My siblings and I were all taught how to cook by our parents, and we learned to do so on an open fire. So, that was my first contact with cooking. Ironically, when I was in high school, I wanted to become a Geologist. So, I took summer jobs with local mining companies collecting soil samples and so on. In my cohort no one knew how to cook, I ended up cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner all summer - every summer for a couple of years. People loved my cooking, and they convinced me to attend culinary school. That’s how it all kind of started.


Can you walk us through your cooking journey? 

In 1984, I was accepted into Vancouver Vocational Institute for cook training in institutional and camp cooking and finally the A la carte program.

After my training in Vancouver, I became the head cook at the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication at 23 years old. I was also the first Indigenous person in BC to receive a red seal chef certification after completing my apprenticeship. In 1992, five chefs including myself participated in the World Culinary Olympics held in Germany. Our team was known as the Native Canadian Haute Cuisine Team.

I owned my own restaurant ‘Toody Ni Restaurant and Catering Company’ in Telkwa, BC where I was born and raised. Our menu specialized in Northwest coast style First Nations cuisine. Unfortunately, I had to close the restaurant and moved back to my mother's home town in Burns Lake.

I was head chef at the ‘Four Host First Nations pavilion’ at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and I am currently the Director for Truth and Reconciliation at SkilledTradesBC.

I faced a lot of discrimination throughout my journey, but having a strong sense of self and appreciation for my culture definitely helped me immensely in navigating through those challenges.


After cooking for so many years, do you have a signature dish?

If we’re getting fancy, it’s probably the Juniper-rubbed roast duck. For Indigenous cuisines, it would be the Wild Salmon and Bannock burger that I am well known for. I recently did a really delicious braised Buffalo rib with a red pepper pesto and that came out really well.


What advice would you give to apprentices starting their career in the culinary world?

I would tell them to get ready for the massive opportunities in the industry. About 20,000 cook openings will be coming in the future due to the rising interest in Indigenous cuisines.

Second, stay in school because school is cool! Continuous education opens the door for opportunities, and as we say in the trades, ‘if the opportunity doesn’t come along, let’s build it’.


Check out this grilled salmon skewers & fresh dill sauce recipe from his cookbook 'Modern Native Feasts'


Photo of Andrew George. Source: SkilledTradeBC



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Last modified: Wednesday 03-Apr-24 12:36:28 PDT