Reinventing traditional cuisine at Summit Restaurant at Sunrise Ski Park

Sunrise chef 2“Food has always been a part of my life,” said Executive Chef Nephi Craig. “I’m from Whiteriver, Arizona and my grandfather grew a garden down by the river.”

“So I grew up climbing the pear trees and plum trees and weeding out the garden,” Craig continued.

Craig, who is White Mountain Apache and Navajo, is back home giving people at the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Sunrise Park Resort an experience involving more than just the traditional type of food we’re all accustomed to eating.

“It’s amazing to me, I’ve been all around the world and I’m here at home cooking Western Apache cuisine with a Western Apache team for a White Mountain Apache company,” Craig said.

While the resort’s Summit restaurant menu offers a taste of Apache type appetizers, Craig said people can a get a more behind the scenes look at Native American cuisine in an intimate taste testing setting.

“The Chef’s Table is designed to provide a very unique culinary experience that you can’t get anywhere else in the country right now,” Craig said.

It gives people a chance to dine in the kitchen and watch how the meals are prepared while learning about the history of the food.

“The framework of our Chef’s Table when I create the dialogue is kind of a historical framework and anthropological, botanical framework of our edible Apache landscape.”

Craig likes to shop local and uses a lot of fresh ingredients from the People’s Farm in Whiteriver.

He gave a few examples of what types of food can be seen on a Chef’s Table menu.

“We’ve done reinterpretations of very traditionally Apache dishes from Acorn Stew and Racket Bread with Bone Marrow, Craig said. “We’ve done this dish called Dijizhii and that’s a corn and bean stew made with preserved summer corn.”

An eye opening food journey that means something different for every person, especially the tribal members in the area.

“People are very excited to see Acorn Stew,” Craig said. “The same old Acorn Stew that we grew up eating in extreme poverty and being presented in a nice way, tasting just like it tastes, but plated a little differently.

“Non-Natives that come in and are very excited about the dishes and flavors because to them they’re very new,” Craig continued.

Culinary workshops are also a hit at the Summit restaurant.

People can enjoy a hands on cooking class from very basic to a more advanced approach with Native American food or other types of cuisine.

“It’s really to try and build a culinary future and enjoy cooking at home,” Craig said.

So how does the chef feel when he sees people taste his food for the first time?

“It’s very gratifying to be able to frame it in the way that we do and present it in a respectful way that is very artistic and simple,” Craig said.

For more information about booking a Chef’s Table or culinary workshop at Sunrise Park Resort Summit restaurant visit

DigitalWire360Reinventing traditional cuisine at Summit Restaurant at Sunrise Ski Park