Sold-out native cuisine event packs museum

Chef Anthony Hamlin (right) and helpers prepare a feast for more than 300 attendees of the Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum’s third annual Taste of Native Cuisine & Culture Expo on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Southern Ute dancers filled the lobby of the Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum during a grand entry ceremony before the meal.
Ace Stryker | Southern Ute Drum
Ace Stryker | Southern Ute Drum

More than 300 people lined up Saturday, Nov. 16 at the Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum for a taste of buffalo stew, Chimayo red chile and candied bear berries.

In its third year, the museum’s Taste of Native Cuisine & Culture Expo kicked off with two dance demonstrations, one by the crown dancers of New Mexico’s Jicarilla Apache Nation and the other by Southern Ute dancers, who exhibited various styles. A tour of the museum followed before lunch was ready.

Creating the menu were professional chefs M. Karlos Baca and Anthony Hamlin. The spread included more than a dozen modern takes on traditional fare, including Navajo tea-braised pork belly, juniper berry and wild mushroom ragout, and cranberry and habanero mousse.

“It was a terrific event,” said Nathan Strong Elk, acting executive director of the museum. “We break bread and we develop the ties with the community.”

Strong Elk said food is a big part of native culture, and sharing it helps perpetuate tradition and support tribal sovereignty. The bison used in the stew came from the Southern Ute herd and “was harvested in a ceremonial manner,” he added.

The purpose of the event was twofold, Strong Elk said: to raise funds for the museum and to celebrate November as Native American Heritage Month.

Strong Elk said the popularity of the event has prompted his team to look into adding a similar summer event next year and expanding the November one to multiple days.

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