Food & Cooking

How this Navajo chef reclaimed his food culture and is passing it on

Tatum Black feels both excited and nervous. On Oct. 15, she and a couple other culinary students from Monument Valley High School plan to take a four and a half hour bus ride from Kayenta, located in the northeast corner of Arizona, down to Phoenix to cook at a fundraiser.

The students are involved with Careers Through Culinary Arts Program, a national nonprofit also known as C-CAP. The program helps underserved middle and high school students develop skills for the culinary workforce.

Under the guidance of chef Justin Pioche, they’ll prepare hundreds of dishes for the event. Black said she’s never cooked for an event of this size, nor has she ever made the kind of dishes Pioche will be guiding them through — modern interpretations of Navajo foods, she described.