Enjoy contemporary Indigenous food on the Avenue
Alberta Avenue is home to restaurants offering food from a variety of cultures, and now residents have one more: Indigenous food from Tee Pee Treats.
Curtis Cardinal opened Tee Pee Treats at the beginning of March to offer takeout and delivery out the back of St. Faith’s Anglican Church. But this isn’t the first time people have been able to enjoy the cuisine at Tee Pee Treats.
“For catering, we started it two years ago. I licensed the company two years ago,” Cardinal explains. “For delivery and pickup, we just started last Tuesday [March 2].”
Although Tee Pee Treats was only open a week at the time of the interview, there had already been significant buzz. The catering company has already been featured on the news and talked about on social media. Cardinal also put up a video on YouTube on how to make bison burgers on a bannock bun.
Before they were based out of a church, Tee Pee Treats was located in the Westmount area, but ended up moving.
“During the pandemic, it hasn’t really been great for catering. Our first year was really good, actually, for catering,” explains Cardinal. Then COVID hit. “2020 was just a write off,” Cardinal says. But despite the physical distancing requirements and restrictions, Cardinal still wanted to bring his food to people.
Tee Pee Treats offers contemporary Indigenous food.
“All of our foods come with bannock or are infused with bannock. Like bannock burgers. Bannock donairs. Bannock hot dogs. We offer salads. Different types of desserts,” Cardinal says. “That’s basically what our company is and what kind of food we serve.” They also make a lot of soups.
“Most of the recipes come from my mum, because that’s how I learned how to cook was from my mum,” says Cardinal. “It’s a unique food experience for people. And right now people are missing the powwow, like powwow circuits. So, people want that powwow food.”
Cardinal explains powwows have bannock and different types of food, and he is wanting to offer that food to different cultures in Edmonton.
He says he always knew he wanted to do something with cooking, he just wasn’t sure what it would be.
“I’ve been cooking since I was very young, because my mum was a cook all of her life,” explains Cardinal. He grew up around kitchens and helped his mother at her restaurant across from his school. “Just cooking in general, my family has been doing it for many years. I wanted to do it at a young age.”
In 2010, Cardinal began selling bannock from a backpack at powwows. In 2013, he began helping a friend with a food truck downtown. By 2019, he started catering.
It may seem unusual for him to be working out of a church, but he was having trouble finding a kitchen.
“Someone I knew from the community reached out and said, ‘Hey! Why don’t you just rent this kitchen? It might not be like a restaurant kitchen, but it’s like a kitchen that people can come in through the back,’” says Cardinal. The kitchen is located at the back of the building, with a hallway leading to the main part of the church.
For the past year, Cardinal had taken a job outside of the food industry, but thought that he should take a chance on himself. “I wasn’t sure about quitting my job and it’s kinda risky during a pandemic. But, then I thought, ‘What if it does work? What if we start selling out?’” says Cardinal. “People are missing the comfort food right now. Going through this pandemic, mental health wise, people can’t it handle very well. Our food is bringing comfort.” For more information, visit teepeetreats.com/ or find them on social media.
Feature Image: Curtis Cardinal prepares food out of St. Faith’s Anglican Church. | Stephen Strand
TEE PEE TREATS
11725 93 St
Tuesday & Wednesday: 11 am-6 pm
Thursday & Friday: 1-7 pm
Saturday: 1-8 pm