Tee Pee Treats Indigenous Cuisine
Curtis Cardinal, a local chef who grew up in northern Alberta, formed his love for bannock in his mom’s kitchen, where he first learned how to create the traditional food and feed people. A Whitefish Lake First Nation member, Curtis credits his journey into the professional kitchen to her teaching him to cook early in life.
Bread is a very individual thing. Every chef and every family makes bread – in this case, bannock – a little differently. Some are chewy, some flaky, some heavy and dense, others light and cake-like. Cardinal brings this flexibility to an imaginative variety of bannock-based menu items.
Wanting to try several, I started with the Bannock Taco, a heaping basket of ground meat, shredded cheese, and lettuce atop a “tortilla” of deconstructed bannock pieces. It was absolutely fresh and very filling, and the bannock was lighter and more crumbly than any bannock I had experienced before.
Next I tried the Bannock Fries, which are dough rolled before frying, accompanied by an herb and garlic sauce. They had a bit more chew, holding together and capturing just enough of the hot oil to make the “French fry” inspiration come through without giving up their own identity.
Finally, we sampled the Bannock “Pizza Pop” which was an enormous half-dome of bannock filled with meat, cheese, and pizza sauce. It arrived piping hot, and the thick bannock crust held the heat throughout the eat. Saying something’s “a meal in itself” may be a cliche, but not here – my dining companion, who’s a strongly-built adult man, was completely filled by it.This sure beats any factory pre-made pizza pop!
Cardinal has come a long way from first selling bannock over a decade ago from a backpack at powwows in the Edmonton area. Now that he’s opened an “official” restaurant in this bright and modern space, the vibe is relaxed, ordering is casual at the front counter, and there are small tables amid a vibrant art-lined space.
With his own recipe for bread and for life, Curtis continues his bannock adventure in our community, which is invited to try a taste of his bannock life at Tee Pee Treats.
Curtis also sells a prepared bannock mix (available on request) and offers catering for groups of 30 or more.
Tee Pee Treats is located inside the yellow door of CO*LAB between 96th and 97th Streets, just south from the Farmer’s Market and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Alan lives in McCauley. He is the Chair of the paper’s Board of Directors.