Transcript: Fanning a spark: A journey to reimagine the way we connect to food

[An overhead image of Edmonton, Alberta comes into view, forest giving way to the skyline. A singular electronic note of music can be heard.]

>>Scott Iserhoff: I was really nervous about today.

[Cut to Scott talking. He is wearing a white chef’s uniform and is in a restaurant kitchen.]

I didn't really sleep. So, just my name, where we are? Okay.

[“SCOTT ISERHOFF” animates on screen in white text.]

[“EDMONTON, ALBERTA” animates on screen in white text.]

[Fast paced cuts of people preparing colourful dishes of food in a restaurant’s kitchen space. Percussive music kicks in.]

Indigenous food is limitless.

[A plate of vegetables receives a final garnish from an off-screen hand.]

If I could instill my stories into the dishes that we do, it just makes it so genuine.

[A meat dish is plated with tongs; a wide shot shows garnish and final plating of the dish.]

We're not doing dishes because they're cool, right? What we're doing now is sharing my past with people.

[Scott enters a dining room full of happy diners seated at a family-style table.]

Being Indigenous, being successful, being powerful, we're our ancestors’ wildest dreams.

[A calming modern jazz song comes in. Scott and a young woman, Svitlana, stand in the kitchen, looking at a whiteboard calendar. Svitlana writes with a green marker on the board, planning a menu for the week. A white text graphic that reads “SVITLANA KRAVCHUK” appears. The two transition to writing on another board on their walk-in cooler.]

>> Svitlana: We don't have to have it on the tasting menu, but we can, but I think it's really good for the walk-in.

[Scott stands at the cooler, speaking to Svitlana.]

>> Scott: You can do all these tasting menu too. It's just small snacks.

>> Svitlana: Scott and I started the company together.

[A mural of flying Canadian geese. A white graphic text reading “Pei Pei Chei Ow (pronounced ‘pe-pe-s-chew’)” animates over the mural, followed by a Syllabic of the Omushkegowin language for the word. Text appears underneath that says “Omushkegowin (Swampy Cree)”.]

>> Scott: I'm the co-owner of Pei Pei Chei Ow. Pei Pei Chei Ow means “robin” in Omushkegowin, Swampy Cree.

[Cut to Scott and a few other employees in the kitchen, prepping food.]

We're a food and catering education company. All combined into one.

[A closeup of a deep-fried eggplant sandwich. The sandwich is cut and wrapped in paper. A text animation that says “DEEPFRIED EGGPLANT SANDWICH” appears alongside it.]

We've just been growing and growing.

[A customer comes into the restaurant and picks up a brown bag from Svitlana.]

That's really cool. It's always fun. It's always interesting. It's the best feeling, right?

[A black chalkboard specials board. Cut to the customer taking the bag and leaving with a smile.]

>> Svitlana: But like anything, of course it has its challenges.

>> Scott: It's not just me anymore. I have a responsibility for my staff now, right?

[Scott and his employees are in the kitchen, smiling and cleaning up.]

I want to make sure that they get paid, because there's a lot of times where people don't want to pay Indigenous people the money they deserve.

[Scott’s staff of Indigenous chefs and servers smile as they plate food, including a bowl containing a colourful, dessert-like dish topped with flowers.]

We want to employ Indigenous people to really close that economic gap and to train other Indigenous cooks. 

[A male staff member concentrates on his task in the kitchen.]

Living on reservations, there's very little opportunity.

[Archival images of young Indigenous people, including Scott, growing up: two boys carrying crops, a young boy in front of hunted turkeys, two people smiling outdoors.]

There's a lot of negativity that's talked about, like alcoholism, obesity, the death rates.

I talk more of successes now.

[Scott in the dining room, smiling with guests. A woman smiles. A group of people laugh over colourful cocktails.]

It's my political statement, being an Indigenous man, doing what we're doing, inspiring other Indigenous cooks, Indigenous servers. I wish that I had that.

[A woman takes a bite of a salad. Scott laughs with a little girl at the table.]

Someone that I could relate to, someone with the same skin colour as me, you know? Someone with the same background, being Indigenous. I really wish that I had that.

[Another, inspiring, meditative music track plays. Squash is plated on a white dish.]

What's next for Pei Pei Chei Ow?

[Scott pours dressing on the squash.]

Hopefully, it's the beginning of something, like, wonderful.

[Hands garnish the salad with greens and herbs. Cut to finishing the salad with some popped corn.]

A restaurant, an institution.

[The salad is complete. A white text animation appears that reads “THREE AUNTIES SALAD.”]

We're still continuing to grow and learn, and it's a small kitchen, but we do big, big things here.

[Music swells with percussive beats. Scott is at the grill, cooking a meat dish. He plates it on a piece of bread.]

I always tell my chefs, when you stay in your comfort zone for such a long time, you don't grow as a person, right?

[The meat dish is topped with a red slaw, and a dollop of white creamy sauce and herbs.]

As soon as I start feeling comfortable, that's when I start feeling uncomfortable.

[The dish is completed, and a white text animation appears that reads “BEEF TONGUE TACO.”]

>> Svitlana: It's a lot of learning that happens every single day, and it's definitely very positive, but sometimes it's a lot.

[An inspiring, upbeat music track cuts in. Cut to Scott and Svitlana walking outside in a sunlit forest. They hold hands and carry a basket.]

We're giving all that we have into this, like, emotionally and, like, physically and mentally and spiritually.

[Scott picks some flowers and places them in the basket, which Svitlana holds.]

But it is also really important to be mindful too, because we burn out a lot, and it's not good, it's not healthy.

[Svitlana picks a blackberry from a bush. She gives one to Scott, and the two walk on.]

And then it affects so many other aspects of our life.

>> Scott: Especially for our daughter. We don't want her to look at us as workaholics, right?

[Scott and Svitlana play outside at sunset with their toddler daughter. She chases them and hugs Svitlana.]

Because our generation, we've seen our parents, all they did was work. There was hardly any time that they had for you.

[Scott and Svitlana carry their daughter as she points at the sky.]

We want to teach our daughter that work doesn't have to be stressful.

[A roaring fire. There is a shift to a more ambient, hopeful music track. Scott squeezes a lemon onto some fresh vegetables on the grill. A closeup of asparagus over the flames. Some cabbage and peppers are turned with tongs.]

Doing stuff like this, gatherings, like, it's just nice. It's nice to unwind with friends and family, right?

[Scott turns the veggies over in the firelight.]

And when you're eating good food and you're surrounded by people that appreciate you. It's definitely, like, it's healing, right?

[Friends and family are gathered outside, helping with the food.]

I can't really describe these moments. They're just moments I appreciate and I always remember them.

[The guests gather around an outdoor table, covered in flowers. Some people eat. Everyone is smiling, laughing, interacting.]

There's a lot of energy that we put into it, like gathering the wood, gathering the food.

[Colourful plates of food are passed and shared.]

But also the intention we have is to have a good time.

[Svitlana sits with their daughter in a ladybug costume, smiling. Guests continue to laugh, smile, and eat.]

You eat a good meal cooked with good intentions. It's just natural.

[Svitlana and other guests continue to eat and smile.]

[The camera pans to Scott as he speaks. He’s seated at the head of the table.]

There's a word that I learned here, actually. We don't use it back home. It's a different word. But miyo-pimâtisiwin means “the good life.”

[A white text animation reading “miyo-pimâtisiwin” appears. The Syllabic for the phrase in the Cree language appears underneath it. Below that, “The Good Life” appears.]

And, like, this is the good life.

[More dishes passed, fresh vegetables.]

Yes, this is the rawest form of Pei Pei Chei Ow. This is what we're all about.

[An overhead shot of the table at nightfall, lit by candles. Murmurs of happy guests can be heard, along with clinks of forks and knives. The Simplii Financial logo appears first over the shot. The shot fades to black.]