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THE INSIDER

Justin Phillips (Restauranteur & Caterer) Entrepreneur, restauranteur, and retired fireman Justin Phillips (Cherokee/Ponca) is certainly no stranger to running a restaurant or having his ancestral knowledge displayed in his signature cooking. Not only is there the classic Indian taco on his menu, but Justin includes his grandmother’s famous recipe for fried squash. He even makes it a point to harvest all ingredients–mainly produce–for his dishes locally from the region, revealing how Justin incorporates ancestral knowledge through modern techniques in his cooking. Justin’s first food ventures were the LeGrubs Catering Co. food truck, then LeGrubs at Tenkiller restaurant in Cherokee County on the beautiful Lake Tenkiller, where he served fresh and flavorful food by way of catering, food truck, and a boat–which delivered to customers scattered throughout Lake Tenkiller. The restaurant had the best outdoor view, as it was located at the highly famous Burnt Cabin Marina. Though he respectfully parted ways with Burnt Cabin Marina, Justin is currently gearing up to open his newest restaurant, The Bird and Bison, which will serve a comfort fusion vibe with an Indigenous flair. With local businesses’ help, Justin renovated and revamped a building that once housed a Subway and hair salon into a cozy, relaxing family restaurant with upscale vibes. The restaurant also features an intimate outdoor stage with plenty of room for outdoor seating, fire pits, games, and a tiki bar. He even had a smokehouse custom-built right next to the restaurant for steaks and BBQ. According to the buzz on social media, many in the area can hardly wait for The Bird and Bison to open up for business officially.

“There are plenty of Cherokee elders we’re listening to and learning from to help hone our skills.”

Chef Justin Phillips preparing a dish. (Photo: courtesy)

How did you learn how to cook? What were some of the things you learned that you apply to your cooking today? I learned how to cook from my grandmother. She always made plenty to eat, and it was never on time. That’s a good thing because you cannot rush perfection. She is my inspiration for putting my soul into my food. I want people to feel

Justin’s newest restaurant set to open very soon: The Bird & Bison.

@thebirdandbison2020

22 | NATIVE MAX MAGAZINE

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