Top Chef - The Good Land, Featuring Indigenous Restaurants

The deRosiers are big fans of Top Chef. We've watched all the seasons and love seeing the chefs whip up delicious looking food under time and budget pressures. We get fully into the roles of armchair quarterback, calling it out when someone is playing it too safe, debating the severity of the sins of a dish (Is under-seasoned food worse than food that eats dry?), and declaring the doom of whoever dares to make risotto. We've followed the careers of some of the contestants and have even visited some of their restaurants specifically because we've seen them on Top Chef

Top Chef 21 is in Wisconsin, a state we visited two years ago. As we've been watching this season, it's been great fun seeing places we visited pop up on the show. One of the coolest things about visiting all 50 states is that we are constantly recognizing locations we've been in movies and on TV. Top Chef has featured local dishes we tried in Wisconsin and have made me want to visit some places we missed during our visit. 

Today I want to talk about Season 21 Episode 9, The Good Land. This episode features Indigenous chefs and guest judges Sean Sherman and Elean Terry. The two prepared a feast for the contestants featuring the dishes of their people, made exclusively with native plants and animals. At one point, the contestants are asked how many of them have eaten in an Indigenous restaurant. The answer: none.

This both shocked and saddened me. Pretty much every town in the US has Chinese, Mexican, and Italian restaurants at the very least (and increasingly, restaurants from many other cuisines around the world), but few feature Indigenous cuisine. The US is a land of immigrants (I'm on Team Salad Bowl vs Team Melting Pot) and we embrace food from around the world, which is awesome, but I wish Indigenous cooking were more beloved. The cuisine features local ingredients, prepared simply... people should be clamoring to eat that food. 

We've eaten at four outstanding Indigenous restaurants across the country, including Sean Sherman's. They are well worth the visit - each of these places was a highlight from its trip!



4 of the Best Indigenous Restaurants in the US

Thirty Nine

I would eat here again and again. The modern indigenous cuisine at Thirty Nine was absolutely delicious. There were a lot more things we wanted to try than the three of us could eat!


Owamni is pricy and, at least when we visited, it was very difficult to get reservations. But it's so worth it. This is a meal I will remember for the rest of my life. 

Indian Pueblo Kitchen

Do not miss Indian Pueblo Kitchen. This was the first Native restaurant we visited as part of our 50 state adventure and it is what prompted me to look for them during our future travels. 

Aaimpa' Café

If you're looking for Indigenous food that is affordable in a super casual atmosphere, Aaimpa' Cafe is perfect. Good food, made with love and pride. Come hungry - the portions are generous! 

I have a short list of recommendations for other Indigenous restaurants to try out, including one that's an easy drive away. If you've eaten at a great Indigenous restaurant, let me know in the comments. I'd love to add it to my list. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cindy, Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am sorry but I do not get your updates! I will try to remember to check more faithfully. I loved that episode of Top Chef. How fun that you have been to so many of these restaurants!


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