TULSA, Okla. — A local Cherokee chef is introducing indigenous foods to Tulsa by creating a space where the community can learn more about it, Burning Cedar Sovereign Kitchen.

The founder, Nico Albert, said her aim is to use ancestral food and wellness practices to help native communities in Tulsa, gather, heal, and grow.

Albert has worked as a cook for several Tulsa restaurants. She loves the kitchen and she also loves her culture. In 2020, she left her full-time job to launch her own catering and consulting business, Burning Cedar Indigenous Foods.

For two years now, she’s been sharing her native heritage through every dish.

“I don’t want to be the only indigenous catering game in town, you know, I would love to have some competition, so I’m going to train my own competition to put me out of business,” Albert said.

Now, she’s merging her passion for cooking with a purpose, she’s expanding her business into a Burning Cedar Sovereign Kitchen, a non-profit she hopes will reconnect people to indigenous wellness practices, as well as address socio-econoic disparities, health concerns, and cultural disconnections.

“It can become just as spread as Italian food, or German food, or Chinese food, or you know, all of these other foods that people are so familiar with. Indigenous food should be just as widespread so that’s part of what this movement is,” Albert said.

Albert is working on finding a location to build a community center that will teach people about indigenous foods and empower them with tools to launch their own businesses.

“I see this as an opportunity to train young cooks so that they can go out and get jobs in the restaurant business, in the catering business, maybe even become chefs and own their own businesses,” Albert said.

The center hopes to provide training programs and educational opportunities for youth that honor their culture.

“By offering this kind of program, to show young, up and coming cooks that your traditional dishes and your traditional ingredients and the things that speak to you in your native culture, they have a place in the culinary world,” Albert said.

Albert also has plans to encourage other indigenous practices, including child birthing practices.

To learn more about the non-profit or make a donation, you can click here.

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