At long last, Dakota culture will return to Owamni Yamni.
The Sioux Chef is set to open a restaurant in the forthcoming Water Works park in downtown Minneapolis near St. Anthony Falls (known as Owamni Yamni, or the "place of whirlpools" by the Dakota people). Chef Sean Sherman and his team seek to bring indigenous foods, made with native plants and ingredients, back to prominence.
The team, which is now up to 12 members, includes Anishinaabe, Mdewakanton Dakota, Navajo, Northern Cheyenne, Oglala Lakota, Wahpeton-Sisseton Dakota peoples. It comprises "chefs, ethnobotanists, food preservationists, adventurers, foragers, caterers, event planners, artists, and food lovers."
“With the removal of colonial ingredients, our plan is to drive economic wealth back into indigenous communities by sourcing food from these growers first," says Dana Thompson, co-owner of The Sioux Chef. "We look forward to sharing and enjoying these diverse and healthy foods with all communities.”
This will be the first brick-and-mortar project for the Sioux Chef, which has operated a food truck, Tatanka Truck, for the last two years. The truck serves a variety of wild rice bowls, as well as snacks and drinks that adhere to native food traditions, such as a cedar and maple tea. Sherman's also about to release a cookbook, The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen.
Water Works is the new park project in Mill Ruins Park, within the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, situated near St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge. Water Works will build on the tremendous popularity of those two sites by offering a park pavilion, a rooftop patio, playspace, and the new Sioux Chef restaurant.
The restaurant will be the first of the Minneapolis Park System's food venues to operate year-round and with full service. Other venues, such as Sea Salt at Minnehaha Falls and the Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun, are seasonal destinations. In addition to the full-service restaurant, The Sioux Chef will serve casual, counter-service foods.
Water Works will be located in Mill Ruins Park, off West River Parkway. For those old enough to remember Fuji Ya's waterfront building, the new project will replace that structure, where the Japanese restaurant operated from 1968 to 1990.