Sean Sherman (a.k.a. the Sioux chef)
Native-American, Oglala Lakota Nation
Chef + Owner/CEO, the Sioux chef
Born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Sean Sherman is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He has a mission “…to help educate and make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible.”
Sean’s journey began as a teenager when he moved from Pine Ridge Reservation to Spearfish when he was 13 year old. He started working in restaurants to support his family and would go on to become a Field Surveyor for the U.S. Forest Service in the Black Hills. Although he found a career in an entirely different industry, his love for cooking never dwindled. Instead, he has spent the last 30 years studying the indigenous food systems in the Midwest. His primary source of knowledge comes from the Lakota and Ojibwe tribes, where he has learned “…Native American farming techniques, wild food usage and harvesting, land stewardship, salt and sugar making, hunting and fishing, food preservation, Native American migration history, elemental cooking techniques, and Native culture and history.”
By 2014, Sean launched his catering and food education business titled ‘the Sioux chef’ in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota area. And by the following year, Sean and his business partner, Dana Thompson, opened the ‘Tatanka Truck’ – a food truck, in partnership with Little Earth Community of United Tribes of Minneapolis, which features pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories. Sean’s dishes uses ancient ingredients such as native plants, wild game and fish, corn, squash, and beans; and he avoids ingredients that weren’t historically available to indigenous tribes (i.e. dairy, sugar, eggs and wheat).
In 2016, Sean launched a Kickstarter campaign to help open the first indigenous restaurant in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area called ‘the Sioux chef: an indigenous kitchen’. The 30-day campaign was a success and set a record, becoming the most backed restaurant on Kickstarter with 2,358 backers contributing a total of nearly $150,000.
Sean deeply believes that cooking his people’s food is reclamation of identity. We are proud of his journey and look forward to the grand opening of ‘The Sioux Chef’ in early 2017 in Minneapolis! In the meantime, you can catch Sean at his ‘Tatanka truck’ and pop-ups around Minnesota and neighboring states.