Interview with an Indigenous Chef: Andrea Murdoch

Name: Andrea Murdoch 
Location: Denver 
Education/background: Culinary Institute of America and community members 
Business name and title: Founder and Chef at Four Directions Cuisine
Tribal affiliation: Andean 

Andrea Murdoch wearing a black hat, grey sweater and maroon shirt with a necklace, posing and smiling in front of a colorful mural
Andrea Murdoch

What led to your passion for indigenous foods? 
I am a transracial adoptee which means my parents do not share my ethnic or cultural background. I was living in Wisconsin when I was going through my divorce and simultaneously determined to learn more about not just my ancestral foods, but all Native Indigenous foods. Without realizing what it was at the time, I was grounding and connecting which as it turns out, is healing. 

Why do you think it’s important to make traditional foods accessible for Natives? 
It’s our birthright as Indigenous people to have access to our traditional foods. It nourishes us and it acts as medicine. It’s a cultural connection and a way for us to tell stories. 

What is the importance of an indigenous diet for a healthy lifestyle? 
Our traditional foods are very nutrient dense, so when I eat wild rice over white rice, I feel satiated but not weighed down or lethargic. I also think about balance and relationships. Am I preparing my food with intentionality and recognizing a relationship of me respecting ingredients for the lifespan they have had before sustaining me and my loved ones?  

What ways are you involved in the education, restoration and accessibility of traditional Native foods? 
A large arm of my business is education. I facilitate workshops for youth to adult programing in the areas of food etymology, food sovereignty and culinary application. Part of that work is done through organizational fundraising such as the American Indian College Fund; at other times the platform is a university campus or even a chef’s table event. I have created programming for corporate team building workshops and youth summer community programming. 

How can community members be involved and support the cause of restoring and protecting indigenous food systems? 
Hiring Indigenous and Native professionals who offer specific knowledge to individuals and groups. This supports infrastructure and gives us the ability to tell our stories rather than having them continuously whitewashed.  

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