It seems everyone in Janine Redcrow’s family cooks, but for her it all started with her dad, Eagle Child.
“He started his cooking business in a tiny little trailer,” she said. “And then it grew to where he built a restaurant that was at the bottom, and we lived on top, and that was on my reserve.”
And she had her late father on her mind when she named her new home-cooking business Eagle Child’s Kitchen.
“I just wanted to carry on what he loved to do, and now I love to do it, and I’m doing it,” she said.
Redcrow, who is Cree from Maskwacis, relocated from Alberta to be with her partner Jamie Krupp, a Cree man who works in Kanesatake and lived in the community for 15 years.
Redcrow was accustomed to a professional kitchen back in Calgary, where she worked at the Grey Eagle Resort Hotel. But last month - with $400 to work with - she started a new venture from her home with Krupp, cooking up homemade delights for Kanehsata’kehró:non to enjoy.
“I just want to cook. That’s all I want to do. That’s all I know,” she said.
Her first meal didn’t sell as well as she'd hoped, according to Krupp, but she kept at it and the orders started coming in.
Redcrow handles the planning, prepping, cooking, and keeps track of her spending. She estimates she makes back about double what she spends at the grocery store, but there’s no magic formula - it depends on a particular meal.
Her dishes can be anything. Recently, she made a beef stew and peach cobbler. “Whatever I feel like I want to do, I’ll go get my ingredients, I’ll come home, I’ll cook it up,” she said.
She usually serves up 15-20 portions. The exception is Indian tacos, which everyone seems to want - she recently made 35 in one Friday evening.
Krupp helps out by taking pictures and writing meal descriptions on top of taking orders with the help of the community’s online discussion forum. He’ll even chop vegetables in a pinch or make the odd delivery if he’s not working.
It’s a partnership that is working well, in more ways than one. “We have a new and growing relationship together,” said Krupp. “We are learning together how to build a healthy relationship after having a few unhealthy relationships.”
He believes the community has accepted Redcrow and appreciates the meals she serves.
“Janine is a strong, independent, hard-working woman - she perseveres,” said Krupp.
“She likes to learn and apply what she learns to bringing new plates to her menu.”
He is hopeful that if Redcrow continues to apply herself to her passion that she will achieve her dream of expanding the business.
“Start small and grow over time - as long as the food is consistent and people keep coming, her wanting to get a food truck can become a reality,” he said.
“A good, home-cooked meal, healthy, reasonable price, and always on time,” said Raymond St. Gelais. He added that it’s especially satisfying to support a local business.
Redcrow has even gotten into catering of late, recently cooking for a birthday party, with another slated for later this month.
“With the holidays coming to an end, I’m sure more people will be ordering meals from them, especially for suppers after work,” said Kanehsata’kehró:non Paige O’Brien, who has ordered twice so far and attended a birthday party Redcrow catered; she especially liked the popcorn shrimp and chicken wings.
“I have no problem with the kitchen being in their home,” said O’Brien. “You pick up the food inside their home and you can see it’s clean.”
O’Brien said the arrival of Eagle Child’s Kitchen is more than welcome given the limited dining options in Kanesatake and nearby, adding that it’s nice to support a community member.
“Seeing successful community members, I think it helps give hope to other members that are thinking about starting a business,” she said.
Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door