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Posoh Mawanew Weak!

Hello Everyone!

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Welcome to our Catering Website

Keep an eye out for upcoming events and watch our social media pages for more exciting and educational bits.

I hope you will find much love within these pages. As you have seen, during this journey, I will be documenting and sharing stories, events, photos, and education. 

When you share your learnings with your local communities, they are enriched. I look forward to sharing love and ingredients that continue to nurture our lands and our connected lives. 

Executive Chef Walks First

Jessica Walks First (Pamonicutt)

Menominee

Bio

Chef Jessica Walks First

Posoh (Hello).

 

My name is Jessica Walks First (Pamonicutt).  I am the Executive Chef and owner of Ketapanen Kitchen. We are Chicago's first Native American Pop-Up Kitchen and catering Company. I am a classically trained Chef, trained at Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts. My husband Tony Garcia and my teacher and mentor Chef John Abels are partners in Ketapanen Kitchen.


I am an enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. I was born on the reservation and raised in Chicago, where I still reside. I am a mother of two: Michael (29) and Jaxx Geronimo (8) and grandmother of two: Marcus Meshan (6) and DaLin Maekhonet (4).


Raised in a communal setting, I learned to command a kitchen at a young age. As a young girl, at any gathering, I would often run to the kitchen to help out. My mother, Linda, started teaching me to cook when I was very young. My love of cooking came from her. She took such joy in feeding others. I was taught that food is the centerpiece of life: whether you are gathered around the supper table at night, when you gather as a family or as a community, from celebrations to ceremonies, even in times of loss, there is food. When we would attend community events, the first place I went was to the kitchen. Feeding people is one way we care for our loved ones and communities. Food brings people together. My Mother taught me that food not only feeds our bodies, but it nourishes our souls. So when I cook, I do so with Love. I put prayers, good thoughts, and good feelings into every dish I prepare. It was from these teachings and philosophies that Ketapanen Kitchen was born. Ketapanen is an expression of Love in the Menominee language. So it seemed fitting to use it as the name of my kitchen. "Ketapanen Kitchen: Where Food Is Love..."


It is my Vision and Mission to bring Indigenous Cuisine to the forefront of Chicago's culinary scene. My menu will offer traditional Indigenous dishes, modern Indigenous dishes, and familiar dishes featuring Indigenous ingredients. Many people have no idea what Native American/Indigenous food is. They don't realize how many of the foods in our current food chain are contributions from the Indigenous people of these lands. My goal is not only to serve amazing food but also to educate people about those contributions. Another part of my vision and mission is to serve healthy food. With Heart Disease and Diabetes being so prominent among Native people, I wanted my menu offerings to be health-conscious. I use organic and GMO-free fruits, vegetables, herbs, and dairy, as well as free-range and grass-fed meats. I source my ingredients from other Native or Tribal-owned businesses and foragers when possible as well as from local farmers and farmers' markets.


My passion for food goes beyond the kitchen. I am an Educator. An Activist. An Advocate. I have partnered with amazing organizations across the Great Lakes Region to address issues such as Food Access, Food Sovereignty, Food Justice, and Healthy Eating. I am a Chef Partner of The Trotter Project, an educational partner of Pilot Light, and a board member of The American Indian Center of Chicago. My love for sharing my culture through food has led to collaborations and partnerships with organizations such as The Field Museum, The Goodman Theatre, Center for Native Futures, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Public Libraries, UIC, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. This year I was selected as one of The Chicago Bears Small Business All-Pro Winners. Between sharing food and educating the masses, we are reaching our ultimate goal of bringing Indigenous Foods to the forefront of Chicago’s culinary scene.

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Seed to Feed Native Foods Initiative

Together with Pilot Light & The Field Museum, we are currently working to create educational pieces on Native Foods. Through this collaboration, my Seed to Feed Initiative was born.

 

The goal of our Initiative is twofold: Education & Community.

 

Education

Bringing people together & creating educational resources that center on Native Foods.

 

Community

Continued work to help bridge the divides that make access to traditional foods difficult for those of us in the Chicagoland area, who live away from our homelands.

 

This program is in development and being defined, and it will absolutely grow into a beautiful & sustainable program.

 

In small numbers we create ripples, in large numbers we create waves. As a community, we should continue to work together to restore and protect Indigenous food systems.

 

My hope is to see a food sovereignty program developed in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Teaching community members how to identify, harvest, grow and cook Indigenous foods is a great way to restore our food systems. We currently have three small garden spaces in the Chicagoland area, but that is not enough! In an ideal world, the community will be able to secure land for planting and growing. A community-owned and operated farm/garden space where we could come together to grow and feed the community would be a dream come true. And I know it will happen one day soon.

 

In closing, any donations made to this campaign will assist with the development of educational resources, as well as help create access to traditional seeds & foods for our community. If enough funds are raised, we might plan to be able to work towards a large community farm/garden! So Thank You for helping us Seed & Feed the future.

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