The Splendid Table: Exploring indigenous kitchens of North America with Sean Sherman

By Francis Lam
The Splendid Table

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen (Sean Sherman)Francis Lam: I would love to start from the beginning with you. You grew up on a reservation in South Dakota – Pine Ridge Reservation. Tell me about growing up there and what you were eating.

Sean Sherman: Pine Ridge Reservation sits in south-central South Dakota. It's wide open and vast. It's almost desert-y because it's right on the edge of the Badlands. There were a lot of cactus and deserts plants around. There were a lot of coyotes, rattlesnakes, and bullsnakes. We didn't have a lot of the traditional foods growing up; we definitely had a lot of commodity foods. We did hunt, so we did have antelope, venison, goose, and duck on occasion. Lots of pheasant and grouse. And we did pick things like chokecherries, juniper berries, and timpsila, which is the wild prairie turnip. But looking backwards as a chef much later in life, I realized there should've been a lot more knowledge of the traditional foods of the Lakota. That's what set me off on the path; I was trying to figure out the food of my own heritage.

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