This Food Truck Chef Shares His Culture with Indigenous Cuisine
Paul Natrall is the head chef and owner of Mr. Bannock, a food truck serving up an Indigenous fusion menu. He uses traditional Squamish Nation ingredients like juniper berries and smoked wild salmon in his offerings, which ranges from award-winning Indian tacos to waffle bannock with chicken, apple slaw and hot sauce. He is proud to be able to showcase his culture through cuisine.
“I hope to spark interest into another generation and pass the torch so they can showcase our culture and just keep it moving through food.”
Natrall grew up on Squamish Nation territory and spent much of his childhood watching his grandmothers cook. He honed his own skills after hours of observing them prep and serve traditional meals to his extended family. “My father passed away when I was really young and my late grandmother Sally, she took in me, my sisters, and my mom. And at that house, we always had huge family meals every night with aunts, uncles, cousins. A lot of time was spent in the kitchen.”
Paul’s grandmothers fostered his love of cooking. “They weren’t trained chefs or anything, but their fried bread and hamburger soup are some of the best memories like me and all my cousins have. That was something special. Not everybody can cook like they did.”
After graduating high school, Paul took his passion for cooking to the next level, by enrolling in Vancouver Community College (VCC)’s Culinary Aboriginal Specialty Program in 2010. “They taught us 10 months of classic French cuisine, and in the last two months we narrowed it down and did Aboriginal specialties. Since then, I’ve been at it, trying to promote Indigenous cuisine and showcasing at lots of competitions locally,” he recalled.
In 2012, Paul was part of Canada’s Aboriginal Culinary Team that travelled to Erfurt, Germany to compete in the World Culinary Olympics, where he recognized a huge interest and appreciation for Indigenous cooking. This experience was his aha! moment, where he realized that he wanted to start his own business one day, showcasing Indigenous cuisine and sharing his love for his culture.
After graduation, he started working in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens, expanding his culinary horizons but never forgetting his roots. He started experimenting with his small business idea, doing pop-up catering and food events offering a bannock bar with various toppings under the name PR Bannock Factory. Customers loved the food and with the support of his community, friends, and family, he was able to build Mr. Bannock into a successful catering business and food truck.
“There’s a lot of people from my community and other Indigenous communities are very welcoming where I go and they’re always shaking my hand, just saying that they’re proud. I just love showcasing our food and our culture, and just representing.”
A busy father of seven, Paul is excited about the future of Mr. Bannock. “As the kids are getting older … there’s a spark in them about cooking and they love the idea of a Mr. Bannock and the food truck. So cross my fingers it sticks with them and they can be a big part of this company when they’re older. I hope to spark interest into another generation and passing the torch so they can showcase our culture and just keep it moving forward through food.”
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