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Guest Chef: Bruce Barnes
Explore Native Culinary Traditions with Chef Bruce Barnes
- Who: Bruce Barnes, executive chef
- Where: Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.
- Operated by: Restaurant Associates
- What: Serves regional Native American foods with a focus on indigenous, sustainable ingredients
- Dayparts: Lunch and catered events at the museum
- Volume: Annual sales of $5-6 million
The cafeteria at the National Museum of the American Indian is aptly named a café. Indeed, the Mitsitam Native Foods Café boasts higher visitation than the museum itself. “We really are a destination restaurant in Washington, D.C.,” says Bruce Barnes, executive chef for the museum. Dishes such as wood-roasted sockeye salmon, flown in from the Quinault Indian Nation in the Pacific Northwest, and wild rice salad, sourced from Minnesota’s InHarvest, highlight the menu’s indigenous focus.
Food stations in the café represent the culinary traditions of Indians around the Americas—from the Northern Woodlands, South America, Meso America and the Great Plains to the Northwest Coast and Columbia Plateau. Barnes showcases the bounty of native ingredients: buffalo, squashes, nuts, maple syrup, cranberries, corn, venison, salmon, quinoa and wild rice.
For quinoa, wild rice and other whole grains, Barnes turns to InHarvest, purveyor of distinctive grains, legumes and beans, including heirloom varieties. “We take great pride in using companies that benefit Native Americans and their communities,” says Barnes. “Staying within native products greatly influences the reason why we source from InHarvest. It’s a company with integrity that offers great quality and variety.”
- The dish: Wild Rice Salad with Spiced Pepitas, Sun-Dried Cranberries and Watercress, Apple-Cider Vinaigrette
- Applications: Side dish, lunch entrée
- Sound byte: "I can't take this off my menu," says Barnes. "The rice has an almond flavor, and the texture is just incredible. It's the best wild rice on the market."
- Inside tips: Cook the rice in vegetable stock cut with water. Toast the rice before cooking. Toasting helps the rice absorb the flavors of the stock and brings out the nutty flavors in the rice.
Wild Rice Salad with Spiced Pepitas, Sun-Dried Cranberries and Watercress, with Apple-Cider Vinaigrette
Yield: 12 servings
High quality wild rice with a rich, dark color that consistently creates a beautiful dish.
- 1 lb. InHarvest Grade A Pure California Cultivated Wild Rice
- Chicken stock
- ½ lb. toasted pine nuts
- 1 bunch scallions
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 3 oz. apple-cider vinegar
- 3 oz. vegetable oil
- 3 oz. sun-dried cranberries
- 4 oz. roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Watercress for garnish
Cook wild rice according to directions, using chicken stock instead of water. Once rice has cooled, add remaining ingredients. Serve room temperature or chilled.