Seven Generations Later: How one chef is hitting reset on the Indigenous palate

By Club House for Chefs | Photos by Kyla Zanardi and Ryan Mah

Born in Northwest Territories and raised in Six Nations, Ontario, Chef Rich Francis has never left home without his Indigenous roots in mind and heart. From traditional foods in his school lunches to his first ever signature dish, a salmon cured with cedar, sweetgrass, sage and ceremonial tobacco, it was only a matter of time before this Stratford Chefs School graduate and Top Chef Canada finalist became a leading force behind Indigenous foodservice and public reconciliation education, all while building a legacy as chef-owner through the Seventh Fire Hospitality Group.

We recently caught up with Chef Francis to discuss the generational motivations behind his culinary endeavors, all while bearing witness to the creation of his spiciest feature yet, Grilled Black Pepper Shrimp with Green Mango and Avocado Slaw, made for Club House for Chefs and seasoned with care using Club House Black Pepper.

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Piper nigrum, a.k.a. black pepper, is an evergreen vine found in India’s Malabar Coast. It’s complex, versatile and earthy, and was a must-add to the dish. The idea for the flavourful feature came into formation after an encounter with an Indian chef while Chef Francis was visiting and eating his way through New York.

“The Indigenous food you see today is from a colonial perspective. It has been contaminated by colonization. What I do is go back prior to contact — about seven generations — and utilize the old ways and make something new today in the modern world. The role of spices and seasonings is a total game-changer because not a lot of people have a mental palate for sweetgrass, for example, or a lot of the ceremonial medicines that we use. I’m utilizing them as a means of delivering flavour, to find our culinary identity out of cultural genocide.”

When he’s not in the kitchen, presenting keynotes on truth and reconciliation or working on his television productions, Red Chef Revival and The Wild Game, you can find Chef Rich Francis in the field finding new ways to open peoples’ minds and palates through modern, sophisticated takes on seven-generations-past traditional cuisine.

“It’s not that I have to overcome the challenge of the colonized palate or that people need to learn something, I want people to unlearn what they’ve previously known about Indigenous food and then start again. I want people to see that Indigenous cuisine is intricate, sophisticated and has so many moving parts that covered get covered by the term Canadian cuisine.”

To add Chef Francis’ Grilled Black Pepper Shrimp with Green Mango and Avocado Slaw to your menu, find the recipe at clubhouseforchefs.ca.

Serves 4

Grilled Black Pepper Shrimp with Green Mango and Avocado Slaw

Ingredients

Shrimp

12 large shrimp

1 tbsp coriander seed, whole

1 tbsp Club House Pepper, Black Ground

1 tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 tsp lime juice, to taste

Pomegranate-Herb Dressing

1 tbsp chives, minced

1/2 tsp pepper, to taste

1/4 lime juice and zest

2 tbsp cilantro stems, chopped

2 tbsp mint, chopped

1 tsp Club House Dill Weed

1 tsp dried parsley

1/2 jalapeño, minced

1/2 tbsp pomegranate syrup

1/2 tsp salt, to taste

Green Mango Avocado Slaw

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 green mango, julienne

Garnish

1 lime, wedged

1 bunch cilantro, fresh

1 shallot, crisped

Instructions

This recipe was created for Club House for Chefs by Rich Francis, chef-owner of Rich Francis Cuisine in Six Nations, Ontario.

For the Shrimp: In a spice grinder grind all spices except salt and garlic powder to medium, fine consistency. In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix well. Add shrimp and marinate for 30 minutes and reserve. Preheat grill to high. Remove shrimp and transfer directly to hot grill. Cook on one side until slightly charred. Flip and cook until just cooked through for approximately 2-3 minutes. Season with lime juice and more salt. Set aside.

For the Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well until incorporated. Adjust seasoning as needed.

For the Slaw: Add the avocado and mango to dressing and combine well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For Serving: Place green mango and avocado slaw on wooden board and place four shrimp on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro, crispy shallots and lime wedge.

Chef Insider Tip: Multi-Use Pomegranate Syrup

Use pomegranate syrup to dress avocado and mango salad, as a drizzle on a poke bowl or marinate pork tenderloin.

For more flavourful inspiration, visit ClubHouseforChefs.ca.

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