Chef Freddie Bitsoie loves life. There is nothing more that fills his soul than when he makes someone smile by telling a good story or by presenting someone with a very good dish. He wants everyone around him to have a great time. These are very simple ways to describe Freddie, yet life for this member of the Diné (Navajo) Tribe was not simple. His journey was long and difficult.
He was born in Monticello, Utah, a small town in the Four Corners region of the United States, where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado meet. However, he did not stay long enough to enjoy the beautiful landscape of Southern Utah. He grew up experiencing parts of the four corners such as Flagstaff AZ, Ganado AZ, Tohatchi NM, Gallup NM, Leupp AZ, Aneth UT, Topock AZ (near Lake Havasu), and Albuquerque NM, with an average of three years at each location New Mexico became his home in 1997. That where he decided to settle and attend The University of New Mexico (UNM) .
1998 UNM-Gallup, home to some of the best instructors Freddie has ever known, he met Dr. Teresa Wilkins, an anthropologist, who taught him the true meaning of Culture and his favorite word, Ethnocentrism. This inspired Freddie to major in the discipline of cultural anthropology with a minor in Art History. Freddie was on his way to be a social scientist. He was ready to buy a brown tweed jacket with patches on the elbows.
In 2001 he continued his studies at the UNM campus in Albuquerque. It was here he focused on the Spanish Colonial Art History of New Spain (modern day Mexico), Ancient Puebloan cultures of the Southwest, and French Neoclassicism. One day a Professor by the name of Dr. David Stuart made aware that most of Freddie’s writings in class were on food ways of ancient Puebloan societies. Freddie unknowingly declared his passion for pre-Hispanic American food culture. However, he needed something to compare and contrast his writings. Freddie then decided culinary school would be a place to better understand popular techniques of cooking.
Anyone, who is in the culinary industry, has a passion for cooking and the same goes for Chef Bitsoie. However, he did not ever think that his dreams for that brown tweed jacket would change to a white chef’s jacket. In order to do what he wanted and as quick as he wanted Freddie had to jump the big anthropology ship for a tiny rocky culinary rowboat. Shocking to everyone he knew, he left university for culinary school.
The Professional food world was something he never expected. He loved every minute of it and learned much about the ways of the professional kitchen in the Phoenix and Tucson area. After three years, Freddie decided to get back into the studies of food and culture. Yet, something interesting happened along the way.
Popularity had risen in a concept called “Native American Cuisine”. He has noticed the different approaches chefs from across the country interrupt foods from the Americas, some Freddie agrees with and most Freddie disagrees. And his attempts to find the solutions have led him to journey on his own in search for a better understanding of how the world perceives foods and ingredients from the Americas and how cultures from both pre-Hispanic America to Euro-America influenced what we know as “Native American Food”. The popular belief the world has about Native American food is as simple as believing, whatever Native Americans eat is Native American food, and It is not that simple. Chef Bitsoie explains this in his studies, research, and most importantly his food by deconstructing the terms, dishes, and rationalizations about “Native American Cuisine”.
Chef Freddie Bitsoie considers home to span miles between four states in the Southwest. He knows that food culture differs within his own people, The Diné; in addition, the differences of food culture between tribes from all of the Americas are vastly different, which he also realizes. Mr. Bitsoie’s endeavors are to deconstruct current concepts of “Native American Food” and definitions, so that all Native Tribes in the Americas will gain much respect for their culturally specific foods and dishes they gave to the world without placement into one generic category, Native American food.