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THE INSIDER

Chef Nico Albert. (Photo: courtesy)

@burningcedarfoods

Healing Indigenous Cuisine A few of Nico’s dishes, many of which she serves through her catering and consulting company Burning Cedar Indigenous Foods. (Photos: courtesy)

Nico Albert (Chef & Caterer) A citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Nico Albert is a self-taught chef, caterer, and student of traditional Indigenous cuisines based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She began her culinary education at a very young age, growing up in California and Arizona, where she was very fortunate to grow up in a home where her mother made dinner mostly from scratch. Nico watched her mother cook regularly, often helping her. She also learned cooking from her father, who made sure nothing in the fridge went to waste. Watching her mother and late grandmother garden was also a part of her upbringing. Realizing her parents already gave her the culinary training needed to succeed, she entered the profession already having the necessary chef skills to make it. A veteran of many of Tulsa’s favorite kitchens, Nico led the culinary team as the founding Executive Chef at Duet Restaurant + Jazz, a modern American eatery and jazz club in the heart of the Tulsa Arts District. At Duet, Nico drew on her Acadian and Native American heritage and her affinity for Indigenous Mexican and New Orleans culture and cuisine when creating an original menu of vibrant, eclectic dishes that are simultaneously comforting and exotic. The eclectic jazz-inspired dishes featured classic southern, Indigenous, and world flavors, some of Tulsa’s favorites. Despite being laid off because of the restaurant business’s downturn due to the coronavirus, Nico took the opportunity to pursue her venture involving Indigenous foods. Now, as the Executive Chef and founder of Burning Cedar Indigenous Foods, a catering and consulting company providing traditional and modern Native cuisine, Nico devotes her time and passion for the revitalization of Indigenous cuisine to promote healing and wellness in the Native American community by providing healthy, traditionally-inspired catering options and educational events. “It is our passion to tell the stories of Native America through the language of food,” Nico explains. “We create positive narratives about Native peoples in our own words, through public relations, outreach, and delicious meals.” In addition to catering, Nico offers consulting services to provide information about tribal food sovereignty, conservation, and Indigenous food traditions. Her efforts to steadily expand her knowledge of traditional ingredients and techniques continue through research and collaboration with Indigenous chefs and traditionalists from all Nations. Welcome, Nico! Will you explain your unique upbringing and heritages, as both your upbringing and backgrounds certainly inspire your cooking today. I am a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. I was born in Bakersfield, California; I spent my childhood there, in Northern CA, and the Salt River Valley of Arizona before moving to Northeastern, Oklahoma, in my early 20s. My father is Acadian (a somewhat isolated agrarian community of descendants of French settlers in Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces, some of whom are also descended from the Indigenous peoples of the region). On my mother’s side, I am a descendant of the Adair family of Cherokees, whose homelands before removal were the Appalachian Mountains in the region now known as Georgia. How did you learn how to cook? What were some of

24 | NATIVE MAX MAGAZINE

Profile for Native Max Magazine

Native Max Magazine - November/December 2020  

Welcome to the Native American Heritage Issue, featuring Muscogee Creek, Colville, Salish-Kootenai, and Cherokee tattoo artist and actress N...

Native Max Magazine - November/December 2020  

Welcome to the Native American Heritage Issue, featuring Muscogee Creek, Colville, Salish-Kootenai, and Cherokee tattoo artist and actress N...

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