Acclaimed Chef Joseph Shawana is Odawa, part of the Three Fires Confederacy. Born and raised in Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve located on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, north of Toronto, Joseph was brought up knowing that food is life. Having 6 brothers and 6 sisters, and being the oldest male, he paid a lot of attention to his mother while she was cooking, which she learned from his grandmother and great grandmother. Starting in the kitchen at the early age of 13, Joseph quickly fell in love with the chef life. At a young age he experienced the power that food has to bring people together, and began his culinary journey with the strict philosophy of utilizing the entirety of an ingredient to bring its full range of flavours to the palette.
Trained in classical French combined with his Aboriginal background, his cooking infuses Classical French techniques with Native American cuisine; full of flavour and never compromising quality over quantity.
Currently a professor and Indigenous culinary advisor at Ontario’s Centennial College, Joseph is committed to furthering the education of culinary to all communities. He has also developed a program to assist Indigenous youth to come into his kitchens and work alongside chefs and provide them valuable industry applications for sustained development.
Chef Joseph Shawana is also the force behind the recently relaunched high-end Indigenous restaurant, Kūkŭm Kitchen, which won the ‘Best World Cuisine” award in 2019, besting over 33,000 restaurants. There, he’s acclaimed for his unique experiments with traditional Indigenous ingredients, many of them wild, including fir tips, sweet-grass, and seal.
Chef Joseph is currently the chair of ICAN, the Indigenous Culinary of Association Nations. Under his leadership and guidance, Chef Joseph and ICAN is dedicated to breaking barriers dedicated to sharing Indigenous food, culinary and cultural experiences from across Canada with the world.
He was named on the list of Top Ten Chefs of Ontario and has received rave reviews in the New York Times, Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and Food & Wine to name a few. He is also in great company on Air Canada’s top 20 restaurants in Canada for 2019 and is a sought-after voice on the emergence of Indigenous culinary around the globe.