Chef Crystal Wahpepah
As the first Native American Indigenous Chef to be featured on Food Network's Chopped tv show, I proudly serve authentic Native cuisine based on the Kickapoo heritage, cooking Native food such as bison, vinson squash, and corn with recipes passed on through the generations.
I grew up in Oakland, in the urban Native American community and was raised with fellow Native American people from many different Tribes. While I am a member of the Kickapoo tribe from Oklahoma, I learned how to cook many styles of Native food and know how our foods bring us together as people. I enjoyed working with my grandmother in her kitchen to learn our traditional food and to pass on the knowledge to my children and community. My love for Native food began as a young child.
I successfully completed the Bread Project program in Oakland and went to La Cocina in San Francisco. My dream is to make my Native community and my family and children proud. I received the Indigenous Artist and Activist Award, and was inducted into the Native American Almanac as the first Native American Woman Entrepreneur Catering Business. I hope one day, soon, to open a restaurant in the Bay Area.
It is an honor to serve Native cuisine to you.
~ Chef Crystal Wahpepah
The Kickapoo (Kickapoo: Kiikaapoa or Kiikaapoi) are an Algonquian-speaking Native American tribe. According to the Anishinaabeg, the name "Kickapoo" (Giiwigaabaw in the Anishinaabe language and its Kickapoo cognate Kiwikapawa) means "Stands here and there".
It may have referred to the tribe's migratory patterns. The name can also mean "wanderer". This interpretation is contested and generally believed to be a folk etymology.
Today there are three federally recognized Kickapoo tribes in the United States: Kickapoo Tribe of Indians of the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas, the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas.
The former two groups are politically associated with the Texas band. Others live in small groups throughout the western United States. Around 3,000 people claim to be tribal members. There is also a small community in Douglas, Arizona. Another band resides in area of Múzquiz, in the Mexican state of Coahuila.