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Discovering Myself... and Food!

The Sixties Scoop hid her identity, food is helping her find it

Tammy Maki is learning about her First Nations ancestors and discovered some great recipes in the process

Aug 31, 2020 2:00 PM By: Vicki Gilhula, Local Journalism Initiative reporter


Tammy Maki's business, Raven Rising, is born from the love of food she got from her Finnish family, her skills and experience as a pastry chef and Indigenous traditions. (Supplied)

What’s a pastry consultant? Who needs someone to tell them what pastries to eat? It turns out a pastry consultant is someone who works with new and established restaurants. Sudbury pastry consultant Tammy Maki explains what she does. “I go into a place that is looking to start a pastry kitchen or bakery. If they are starting from scratch, I help them with layout, plan the kitchen flow, source equipment and contractors. If it is an existing business, I help with new (pastry) menus and do their costing. Sometimes, a restaurant might need me to cover for their pastry chef who is on vacation.” Maki is now in the process of setting up a new business, Raven Rising, Global Indigenous Chocolates and Pastries, an online business specializing in goodies. (ravenrising.ca) Her new business is born from the love of food she got from her family, her skills and experience as a pastry chef. But it also, interestingly, comes from Indigenous traditions, she told Sudbury.com. "Food brings everyone together. I want everyone to eat and be happy," she said.  Growing up in a Finnish-Canadian home, Maki learned how to bake from her mother.  “My earliest memory is of being the kitchen with Mom and making pulla.” Last Christmas, she rented the kitchen at Walden Arena to fill pulla orders. She makes the Finnish cardamom bread from scratch.  “It takes a few hours to do. I mix it by hand; I will never do it in a mixer. I need to feel the dough.” Trained at Cambrian College, Maki did her pastry chef apprenticeship at Rim Rock Resort and Hotel in Banff, Alta. After working out West for a number of years and “sponging” up as much experience and knowledge as she could, Maki returned to Sudbury to be close to her daughter and five grandchildren. After her parents died, Maki began researching her background. She knew she was adopted and her birth mother was Indigenous, but she didn’t want to hurt her parents by asking too many questions. “When I was growing up, it wasn’t cool to be Indigenous. Not in my family, but some people made me feel bad about it.” Maki learned she is from White Bear First Nation in Saskatchewan. “I was part of the Sixties Scoop,” she said, taken from her birth mother and put up for adoption, not by choice. “I found many things I thought were not true. My mother did not give me up for adoption.” Saskatchewan had an official Indigenous transracial (Métis) adoption program from the 1950s to the 1980s. Child welfare authorities took babies from single mothers and placed them in white middle-class homes. Maki knows her biological father was of European background. She can’t find any records about her birth mother, but she has found an older brother. He has helped her learn about her heritage. “Now it is important to me to find out more about who I am and to share that knowledge.” As she learns more about her Indigenous roots, she has been researching First Nations foods, which do not use refined sugar, trans fat or artificial flavour. Maki is developing recipes with fruit, berries, nuts and seeds.  She sources chocolate from Brazil and other parts of South America. Chocolate comes from the cacao tree native to the Amazon Basin, although most of the cacao beans seeds used today are grown in West Africa. As she prepares to launch Raven Rising in October, Maki is perfecting her all-natural cookies, made without sugar, and native granola sweetened with honey. She has a recipe for a pemmican dessert made with dried bison, dried berries and chocolate. Raven Rising will also offer blueberry cheesecake. Customers will receive their orders with information about ingredients and stories relating to the recipes.  For more information,contact Maki at ravenrisingltd@gmail.com.

About the Author: Vicki Gilhula, Local Journalism Initiative reporter Vicki Gilhula is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com.

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