Chef Murdoch wins Best in Show during Colorado Ag Day at the capitol
March 29, 2019
Chef Andrea Murdoch put her skills to work during Ag Day at the capitol, bringing home Best in Show and Farm to Fork Award honors for Team Pork, made up of the Colorado Pork Producers Council and Colorado Livestock Association team.
Murdoch was up against nine other chefs representing various agriculture trade organizations utilizing products produced by Colorado farmers and ranchers.
Murdoch is an indigenous chef, utilizing pre-Colonial ingredients in the dishes she prepares as a part of her catering business, Four Directions Cuisine. For the contest, she prepared Annatto Braised Colorado pulled pork, Ute Tribe Blue Corn Mash, and coconut and seed mix. While pork and coconut are not indigenous ingredients, she utilized a recipe she made popular utilizing rabbit meat. She used pork butt and said it is a savory, earthy dish.
"The blue corn mush is something that was a point of interest to people," she said. "I made sure to let them know it came from the Ute tribe in southwestern Colorado, the only corn I source is from those folks."
Joyce Kelly, executive director of the Colorado Pork Producers Council said Ag Day at the capitol was a success, combining education and competition. Kelly said the judge panel is diverse and changes every year under the guidance of the Colorado Chef Association. The Farm to Fork Award is new this year and Kelly said Murdoch's work with indigenous foods and her cultivation of relationships with farmers sealed the win.
Murdoch is originally from the Andes in Venezuela and came to the United States when she was 3 years old, after she was adopted by a military family. Cooking was always her dream that she was able to make into a reality. A classically trained pastry chef, she said she began walking her indigenous foods path and based her catering company on sourcing locally, indigenously, and creating awareness around indigenous culture and identity.
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"There are so many ingredients, so many crops, that are indigenous to the Americas and I do my best to source indigenously but also locally," she said. "I do work with farmers in Colorado, but I also source specific ingredients from Ramona Farms based in Arizona."
She also uses hand-harvested wild rice from the Great Lakes area and sources from as many indigenous growers as possible. She does, however, source olive oil from a company that is tribal owned, even though olives and olive oil are not indigenous.
Many foods, including potatoes, tomatoes, amaranth, and quinoa originated in the Andes and are all ingredients she often utilizes, marrying her past and present. Murdoch is committed to educating consumers about food and offers cooking classes to introduce students to indigenous foods.
Social justice work is near to her heart and she caters a number of events to that end, including an event to raise funds and awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.