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About Rich Francis & Aboriginal Culinary Concepts
Aboriginal hospitality is all about community, a sense of belonging and contribution. With that in mind we are obsessive about the details of our ideation of the perfect dining experience and strive to deliver an experience reminiscent to that of Native culture as well as evoking the emotion of appetite but in a brand new light.
We use traditional commodities, new cooking techniques and implement them in new ways, suited to our times but never abandoning our vision of benefiting Aboriginal gastronomy as a whole. This is the foundation and mission of Modern Aboriginal Cuisine, furthermore, that of Chef Rich Francis.
"If anything, Modern Aboriginal Cuisine is really about creatively doing a traditional dining experience in new ways, suited to our times as Native people. How do we do this? By using Indigenous commodities, culture, tradition, modern cooking technique and fearless creativity. More personally ... Modern Aboriginal Cuisine is an emotion rather than a conceptual entity in and of itself."
To this day Rich Francis pulls a lot of his inspiration from the tastes, smells and traditions of his childhood in Fort McPherson in the Gwich'in Settlement Area, NWT, his father's roots. "I find it effortless to pull inspiration from the land mostly because thats where my heart is." His mother is Haudensaunee, of the Tuscarora Nation from Six Nations, ON, which he considers his second home. This is where he would develop a second layer of influence to his cuisine that you experience today.
Rich is a graduate of the acclaimed Stratford Chef School. While at Stratford Rich was involved in the taping of Chefs School, a 28 part documentary for Food Network Canada, which portrayed the life of a culinary student at the demanding Stratford Chef School. Having received top honors in Advanced Cookery he started his culinary career with respected chef, Michael Stadtländer in Singhampton, ON. It was at Eigensinn Farm that Rich developed a deep appreciation in terms of culinary significance to the farm to table mentality and artisanal handcrafted product.
Shifting his attention to Toronto he accepted a position at Splendido with one of Toronto's best, David Lee. whom he considers one of his most significant mentors and adapting Chef Lee's mentality and attention to detail to the customer, product and execution.
New York City was his next stop being a stagiere at Danny Meyers Tabla with a chef he met while filming Chefs School in Stratford, Chef Floyd Cardoz. Here he further developed his palate and skills by executing complex Indian/American dishes created by chef Cardoz. NYC proved to be a valuable experience that still shapes his culinary career.
Peller Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake under Chef Jason Parsons was his next experience. While his time there he became familiar with Chef Parsons philosophy and the regional cuisine of Niagara and the wine making process.
With big aspiration and determination he moved back to Toronto to explore his options. This is when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident that would forever change his culinary career. He never sent out another resume and while over a year of rehabilitation his concept of Modern Aboriginal Cuisine was born. Since January 2011 he has been pushing his concept forward with Aboriginal Culinary Concepts. He specializes in Modern Aboriginal Cuisine by doing private tasting dinners/wine pairing, tasting events and food demonstrations.
Aboriginal Culinary Concepts serves as a platform to further develop his concept of Modern Aboriginal Cuisine while giving his customers the emotional experience of Aboriginal gastronomy. He uses product that is locally sourced as well as indigenous product from producers from Turtle Island. His restaurant, Indigenous, is in the near future.