MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Even with the door closed, the sweet smell of blueberries, sage and tender cuts of buffalo permeated the halls of a downtown Minneapolis building. Chef Sean Sherman lingered behind a stove, his hands slow and steady as he drizzled sunflower oil into a hot pan.
“I like to think, What if I was here 300 years ago?” he said, scanning the faces of a group of Native American youths. “What would I eat?”
That question was not only at the heart of a recent reality cooking show filmed for a local nonprofit; it’s also the impetus behind an ambitious restaurant concept Sherman first envisioned seven years ago when he started research to write a Lakota cookbook.
An Oglala Lakota who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in western South Dakota, he was startled by the lack of information on indigenous diets or even opportunities to visit successful Native restaurants.
“I had no idea,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t just fry bread. I knew Native food was a lot more than that.”