Meet Chef Steph Baryluk

Chef Steph Baryluk is the recipe creator and cultural educator behind the Rooted program dishes. 

Ancestral Background 

Chef Steph Baryluk (BAR-luck) is Teetl'it Gwich'in from Teetl'it Zheh (Fort McPherson), Treaty 11 Territory located in the Northwest Territories.

"I Grew up hunting, fishing, and traveling the Arctic Tundra. Both my parents are residential school survivors, so today, as I have the freedom to practice my culture and traditions, I will be loud and proud. The Teetl'it Gwich’in people still continue to live off the land respectfully harvesting game meats and plants for medicine. We are one of the most Northernly indigenous people in North America living at the northwestern limits of the boreal forest. Only the Inuit live further north. Hunting, fishing and trapping remain important both culturally and economically, with caribou, moose, whitefish, being staples of our diet.

I grew up watching my Jijuu (grandmother), auntie Betty and mom always cooking, serving anyone who comes into their home. We connect with people when we cook for them. I try hard to keep that alive in my food."

Bella Ross, Grandmother

Rosie Firth, Grandmother

Chef Steph draws inspiration from her grandmothers, "I come from strong Indigenous women. By promoting Indigenous cuisine I hope I can make them proud."

Bella Ross
My granny Bella Ross spent 3 years in residential school where she lost her traditional language. Something she had to relearn upon her return. She continued to teach her children the language as they were growing up. She worked hard to encourage the Gwich’in language and culture. She also worked as a translator and reporter for the CBC Gwich’in radio program.

Rosie Firth
My Jijuu (grandmother) Rosie Firth spent 4 years in residential school. She was always busy with her sewing projects, many of which are still in museums today. She also did translating for the Gwich’in language and always promoted her culture. When I smell fresh buns baking in the oven it brings me right back to my Jijuu's kitchen, with a table full of food ready to feed any visitors who would stop by.

Culinary Experience

Chef Steph now lives in Tsawwassen, BC with her husband and two kids. Culinary skills abound in their household, "My husband is a Chef, he’s been in the industry for a long time and is currently an Executive Chef. He is my greatest supporter. Always taking the time to teach me." 

A Graduate of Vancouver Community College Culinary Program, Steph has worked across the industry in hotels, oil camps, restaurants, senior homes, and catering. After completing her Red Seal as a Cook she knew she wanted to do more with her Indigenous roots. She has hosted cooking classes and speaking engagements in her hometown, at the FAO in Rome, SXSW in Texas, and across the Lower Mainland. She also launched her own company, MRS B’S JERKY, which is a play on traditional caribou dried meat ‘Nilii Gaii’ but made with beef. She’s excited to find more ways to share and highlight Indigenous cuisine and culture. 

Indigenous Brands

Want to explore more Indigenous culture, beyond food? Here are a few of Chef Steph's favourite Indigenous owned businesses.

Virtual Gwich’in

James Ross, a four term Chief of the Teetlit Gwich’in from Fort McPherson, is the founder of Virtual Gwich’in. The vision of Virtual Gwich’in is to create an Indigenous Centre of Excellence that joins Gwich’in knowledge with cutting-edge technologies to support local and global educational opportunities. These tools will provide a platform for youth to collaborate with knowledge holders, Elders and Ancestors virtually and on the Land. The educational tool will serve as a 3D map of Teetl'it Gwich'in Territory with interactive capabilities, viewed in the Oculus Quest 2 which includes captured 360 video at sacred areas throughout the Gwich'in territory.

Virtual Gwich’in

Mariah Charlie, Artist

Mariah Charlie is a Gwich’in youth from Fort McPherson, NT. She has become an amazing artist through her craft of sewing. Her specialty included earrings, granny hanky products and hair accessories. Her inspiration comes from her late grandma Jane Charlie Sr. “Since she left us, I wanted a way to remember her in my own way.. there the granny hanky was, it’s own color palette. I can’t count off the top of my head how many products I have made, but I wish to walk into her house and show her..I just know she would be so proud of me” Mariah is connecting through her own way to her roots.

Mariah Charlie Art

Qiviut Co

Qiviut Co is an Inuit owned and operated company out of Nisku, Ab. They make muskox yarn, knitwear, jewelery, and spinning fiber. Traditionally the Qiviut was collected and stuffed inside mitts and boots to keep warm. They are a great business carrying on a tradition from the generations before. 

Qiviut Co