The Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum hosted the 3rd annual Taste of Native Cuisine in the Museum’s Large Classroom Saturday, Nov. 15. The event featured foods prepared by native chef, Carlos Baca (Tewa/Dine) and his three-man crew. The foods were prepared using food harvested from the Earth, as our ancestors had done years before.
Head Cook, Baca, a chef and forager, learned from his grandfather how to butcher deer and elk and how to harvest bear root and pinion.
“My grandfather was a farmer, he grew food from a seed to fruition to feed us and my grandma cooked at the Head Start for over 30 years, she cooked for us – this all evolved into what I do now,” he said.
Assisting Baca in preparing, cooking and serving for the event were, Anthony Hamlin (Navajo) from Tuba City, AZ, a sous chef that has been cooking for 12 years and now cooks in Durango. Stephan Mann (Navajo) from Page, AZ is a cook and has worked at the Palace Restaurant in Durango for seven years and is currently going to school at Fort Lewis for hospitality and business management. Also assisting Baca was Joshua “Josh” King from Durango, who has been cooking for over 10 years.
The menu for the “Taste” included braised elk with wild mushroom au’jus, Applewood smoked elk with chokecherry glaze, red chili and pumpkin stew with confit ciappolini, grilled apple and blue corn, roasted sweet potatoes with orange, sage and piñon brown butter and an I’si Gelee with amaranth filo crisp and crème.
Baca spent over 200 hours in the forests harvesting foods for the event.
“Traditional medicines and food staples were part of our people. We must provide for ourselves, not through the poisons found in most modern foods.” Baca said. “It’s our duty to bring it back for all people, not just indigenous people. We must create food serenity.”
Traditional flute players, Nathan Strong Elk and Damon Cloud, provided music for the event. Los Bros played rock and Latin music, and the Ignacio NAYO drum group sang an honor song and a round dance song. Vendors were also on hand to sell their arts and crafts in the museum.