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Native flavors: Indian Pueblo Kitchen focuses on indigenous food education, exploration

Executive chef Ray Naranjo of Indian Pueblo Kitchen shows one of his indigenous courses. (Courtesy of The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center)

Pueblo Harvest Restaurant at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center has been re-imagined as Indian Pueblo Kitchen.

The innovative testing kitchen and restaurant will focus on indigenous cuisine education and exploration. Indian Pueblo Kitchen will offer its guests and students an “unforgettable” indigenous food experience under the leadership of executive chef Ray Naranjo (Santa Clara, Odawa), according to an Indian Pueblo Cultural Center news release.

The opening date is dependent on the state’s public health mandates for museums and restaurants. IPCC leadership hopes to open Indian Pueblo Kitchen, 2401 12th NW, in the spring.

“One of the most memorable moments for our guests seeking a deeper connection to pueblo people and culture is a one-of-a-kind dining experience at the Cultural Center’s restaurant,” Dr. Beverlee J. McClure, the center’s vice president for community and cultural engagement, says in the news release.

Indian Pueblo Kitchen will provide entrepreneurs, food truck operators and Native American food artisans with access to a commercial greenhouse and commercial kitchen. It also will offer culinary tourism opportunities, including cooking classes, wine pairing dinners, feast day experiences and farm-to-fork dining.

“The Indian Pueblo Kitchen will carry on that tradition of creative, Native American culinary artistry and pueblo hospitality and will now provide exciting opportunities for students to learn indigenous cooking techniques and restaurant operations and management in an engaging, collaborative environment – preparing them for a future in the hospitality industry,” McClure said in the news release.

Chef Naranjo will be introducing a new concept called the Pante Project in anticipation of Indian Pueblo Kitchen’s opening.

“One consequence of the pandemic is the loss of community and human connection,” he says in the news release. “People miss simple things like the experience of dining with family and friends at their favorite restaurants. So, until we reopen as the Indian Pueblo Kitchen, we’re creating monthly events in which our customers can order a pre-prepared, indigenous dinner online, pick it up curbside and then join us online to let us show you how it was prepared.”

The inaugural menu for Naranjo’s Pante Project featured contemporary indigenous gastronomy of North America, from an ancestral Tewa perspective. Ordering for the first Pante Project meals concluded on Nov. 18, but future meals are planned. When an order is placed each customer will receive an email containing a link to a video of Naranjo preparing the dinner and giving information about the meal, according to the news release.

“Participants will be able to see the process of how their meals came together, why the food was selected and the cultural meaning behind the food,” Naranjo says in the news release. We are very excited about the Pante Project and believe it will be a fun new way to reconnect with our customers who miss having a unique, Pueblo-inspired food experience.”

IPCC members will receive a $5 discount per meal. A portion of the proceeds from each dinner will benefit IPCC’s Pueblo Relief Fund. Updates on IPCC and the Indian Pueblo Kitchen can be found at indianpueblo.org and facebook.com/IndianPueblo.

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