Empowering the Indigenous Culinary Scene through Authenticity and Resilience
Tuesday, July 18th | Jenna White, a successful Indigenous entrepreneur based in Fredericton, has brought a fresh wave of inspiration to the Canadian food industry. She has not only established thriving businesses but also contributed significantly to the Indigenous cuisine scene. Today, Jenna is the Founder of Jenna’s Nut Free Dessertery Inc, White Cedar Consulting, and A Taste of the Atlantic.
Jenna’s journey to entrepreneurship started at the local farmers’ market in 2019. After developing a severe nut allergy and losing a significant portion of her eyesight, she faced immense personal challenges. However, she did not let these setbacks deter her. Drawing inspiration from her children and her lifelong passion for cooking, she took a brave step into the food industry with a modest setup of two small folding tables and a $250 budget at the Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton.
Despite the hurdles brought on by the pandemic, Jenna persisted. She took the lockdown period as an opportunity to revamp her business model, resulting in an expansion into two brick-and-mortar locations. She also developed professional-grade baking products in partnership with Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, thanks to a grant from Women in Business, New Brunswick. This pivot allowed her to continue her business by classifying it as essential.
Jenna’s breakfast and lunch restaurant, a significant part of her business, offers unique twists on Indigenous food. Beyond the restaurant, she also hosts traditional meal series – dry, three-course dining experiences – which have been consistently successful. These events serve as a gateway into the catering side of her business and provide an opportunity to share Indigenous culture.
An essential aspect of Jenna’s mission is her dedication to using food as a vehicle to share culture. The company’s bannock mix, available in stores across the Maritimes and Ontario, includes a QR code linking to a video explaining the history of bannock and the process of making it.
Amidst all these ventures, Jenna created an Indigenous Cuisine Festival, an event that promotes Indigenous cuisine and culture. It provides an economic boost to various businesses within the community, extending its benefits to all four Atlantic provinces. If that weren’t enough, Jenna is also preparing to launch ‘Smoke and Fire,’ an outdoor tourism experience where everything is cooked with smoke and fire, in the coming summer.
Jenna’s collaboration with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses and organizations has been central to her business strategy. She firmly believes that such collaborations are essential in uplifting the Indigenous entrepreneurial community and inspiring new businesses.
Her advice to aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs in the food industry is to be authentically themselves. She encourages them to share their culture fearlessly, assuring that people will appreciate their unique offerings. Jenna White’s journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and the potential of Indigenous cuisine in transforming the food industry.
Listen to the Pow Wow Pitch Podcast at powwowpitch.org/podcast to hear our full conversation with Jenna.