Chef Stephanie Baryluk, creator of Mrs. B’s Jerky, is spearheading a new Indigenous culinary program at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
“It’s not just about eating food, it’s about the memories, it’s about the stories and it’s about how it makes you feel,” she says, “I’m always searching for things that remind me of home because I don’t live in my community anymore.”
Baryluk created 16 unique recipes paired with stories of Teetl’it Gwich’in history and tradition for a program called Rooted.
When it came to creating the dishes, she says, “What I enjoy and what I crave is what I grew up on. I grew up on a lot of soups, stews, meat, and potatoes.”
“Being able to share who we are, that’s the biggest thing for me,” she adds.
Baryluk remembers the matriarchs in her family, especially her jijuu (grandmother) always cooking and serving meals to the community, long before she would learn to do the same.
“That’s what I grew up seeing was my grandmother, my mom, my aunt just being ready for anyone to come into our home and sharing a meal.”
As a youth, she says she didn’t always appreciate the readiness of a hot meal on the table or her father’s ability to harvest until she went to culinary school and soon after became a mother.
Baryluk is now grateful for those teachings and all she’s learned both inside and outside the classroom.
“Just seeing so much of this knowledge being passed on is so important,” she says. Even the smell of freshly baked buns makes her think of her jijuu.
With this program things like BBQ blueberry salmon bowls, duck tacos, maple glazed trout salad and even bison bourguignon can be found on the dining hall menu.
Through her work, Baryluk plans to advocate for members of her community. “I know in order for me to help other Indigenous people, I need to share about what I’m doing, where I come from, and sending the message that you’re more than capable of doing it.”
“In this moment, by sharing my culture and my tradition, it can not only give me a sense of pride but my community too.”