by Andrew Coppolino | November 2022
Personal chef Destiny Moser recently started Cedar Spoon Indigenous Catering in collaboration with Bingemans, but food had always been an important part of her life including childhood in a large family.
“We got together often and there were always lots of barbecues. I was always one of the cooks in the family,” Moser says.
Eventually, she started cooking at community events and teaching kids cooking at the Kitchener Market. During the pandemic she made a major decision to attend Kitchener’s Top Toques Institute of Culinary Excellence.
As well as her business as a personal chef, FoodZen, Moser does a lot of volunteer work in the community that involves food and cooking, including at The Healing of the Seven Generations.
We had a few questions for Chef Moser.
What is Cedar Spoon?
I had been working as a personal chef, and people in the Indigenous community were looking for an Indigenous cook and food. I started working some smaller local events – and it blew up. Then I got a call from Bingemans asking if I could help with an Indigenous art show. The feedback was great, and Bingemans has been wonderful allowing me to use their space and assistance from staff to get Cedar Spoon going.
What does the name Cedar Spoon refer to?
Cedar is one of the medicines of the Indigenous people. It’s strong and resilient. It’s healing, especially as we are going through this time of truth and reconciliation. And I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had to go through a lot of hurdles to get where I am. So, a cedar spoon.
Is Indigenous cuisine the same as Canadian cuisine?
It’s not carrot cake and poutine. Pigs, cows and chicken came with the settlers. That became Canadian cuisine. I’m refocussing on Indigenous food. Hyperlocal, ultra-seasonal. It’s ingredients we can get in our own “backyard” here. Bison instead of beef. Maple syrup instead of brown sugar. Sumac instead of lemon. Sunflower oil instead of olive oil.
You’ve been learning about cooking and Indigenous food. What else have you learned?
My mother was part of the Sixties’ Scoop. She was taken from her family when she was four and adopted by a family in Waterloo Region when she was six. It’s where I was born and raised. My family is basically German descent, and I grew up with that type of food.
But I always knew I was Indigenous. I just didn’t know about the culture. That was something we lost. Before my mom passed away two years ago, I started learning more about the culture. Food is my love language, and it was naturally a way for me to learn. I immersed myself in it. Food is tied to everything in Indigenous culture.
What is a “love language”?
I grew up quiet outside of talking with my family. However, food was always a way I could communicate to show you how I felt. How I cared. It became my way of saying, “I appreciate you.” Food is the soul of who you are, where you are, where you travel to. Food feeds you, and it’s medicine. Food is my love language, and the way I express myself.
What are some of obstacles to the cooking you want to do?
One is legality. We have to fight against laws that prevent access to getting game into restaurants, for instance.
What do you want to see happen, in the short term, with Cedar Spoon?
I want to develop some experiences here, and I really want to introduce the public to more Indigenous foods in what I’m doing here at Bingemans with Cedar Spoon.
Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press), he is the 2022 “Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence” at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @andrewcoppolino.