Family, Friendship & Powwows

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of going to pow-wows with my family in Manitoulin. Attending the Wikwemikong Annual Cultural Festival pow-wow and dancing with my mother and sisters are youth summer memories that I hold dear. At a young age the beat of the drums struck right to my core, pulsing straight to my heart.

In going into this years pow-wow season, I recognize that the beat of the drums still resonates strong within. For me the drums that resound at pow-wows help me to feel related to the deep universal heartbeat of Mother Earth, reminding me to stay passionately connected and grateful for the abundance she bestows upon us. 

As I write this article, sitting co-pilot to a fellow cooking buddy and with my romantic partner in the back passenger seat – both of whom I met working at a restaurant in Toronto’s Distillery District – I’m reminded of how cooking brings great folks together. There is so much joy working alongside supportive and creative folks and I have a deep appreciation for the many mentors, peers, and aspiring cooks I have met throughout my career.

Being on the road with two pals I’ve met in my last big city restaurant, heading to cook at the Niagara Spirit of Youth Powwow fills me with such appreciation in looking back and moving forward on the path from city to the land.

The three of us are winding down the QEW, absorbing all the greenery and feeling so honored to be cooking for and serving the many talented dancers that will be performing today. The connection of procuring locally sourced healthy ingredients, cooking with positive intentions and a good mind, will I hope with most sincerity will be transmitted into the food that will nourish the incredibly spirited dancers as they share their gifts with the community.

The other week I was privileged to cook for the generous volunteers at the Soaring Spirit Festival held in Hamilton’s Gage Park. It was such a fulfilling experience meeting folks at this venue while Barbecuing in the park.

With summer upon us – berries ripening, the corn starting to stretch up, children running around the farm as school’s out – I’m so happy and grateful to kick this pow-wow season off with everyone in attendance at the Spirit of Youth pow-wow.

This week I’m sharing a dessert recipe from the pow-wow menu I created for those dancing in Fort Erie this July 1.

Brown Butter Polenta Cake

Recipe will fill a 9” diameter pan about 2” thick


  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups almond flour or meal
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup Sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Maple Syrup
  • Strawberries or any seasonal berries
  • Whip Cream


  1. Brown butter: heat unsalted butter in a pan or pot until foams, turn to low and continue heating until the butter changes colour to a golden brown. Let cool.
  2. Whisk almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together sugar and eggs until it doubles in size.
  4. Fold flour, cornmeal mixture into egg and sugar. Then fold in cooled brown butter.
  5. Scrape into parchment paper lined pan, set oven to 350F bake approximately 30-45min or until a knife comes out clean in the center.
  6. Let cool in pan for a short time then transfer to a wire rack. You want it to cool down gradually.
  7. Garnish with sliced strawberries or any seasonal berry, whip cream and maple syrup.

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