Chef Rich Francis is a modern indigenous chef, author, teacher, and food sovereigntist from the Haudenosaunee and Gwich’in First Nations from six Nations Ontario. He is also the founder of the ‘Seventh Fire Hospitality Group’ in Canada.
As the first Native contestant on Top Chef Canada, Rich Francis made it all the way to the final round. He has since stared in several docu-series such as ‘Red Chef Revival’ and ‘Wild Game’ to educate on indigenous food sovereignty and history.
"You can't find this in cookbooks. You can't find this in history books."
For Rich Francis, like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic was a blessing and a curse, allowing him to reexamine his mission as a chef and realise the need to use his Indigenous voice more often. The Seventh Fire Hospitality Group came alive as a ‘dining experience’ serving and respecting Indigenous recipes.
“You’re going to have some great food, but you’re also going to leave thinking.”
Chef Francis is reconnecting and reintroducing Indigenous youth across Canada to their traditional foods through workshops on harvesting, preparing and honoring food.
“You see a little light bulb go off in their little heads, this quiet silence they experience alone. It’s really a fun process to watch. That’s their food DNA kicking in.”
He also works with elders using food as medicine to “bring them back” to their traditional foodways and heritage.
“These foods that I work with are very powerful, in that they trigger trauma, but it also triggers the resilience that we have inside.”
Chef Francis’ work calls on people to have deeper conversations about food, and for chefs within Canada and beyond to acknowledge the lands, peoples and traditions that inform and inspire their craft.