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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund, 303-426-8900,

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, 720-214-2569,

Apr 6, 2022 | Featured Post, Press Releases

American Indian College Fund to Host NYC Indigenous Food Event Featuring Four Indigenous Celebrity Chefs

May 17 EATTS Event to Benefit Native American College Students

Denver, Colo., April 5, 2022–Can you imagine a world without chocolate, blueberries, or guacamole? Neither can we. Yet the foods we take for granted were unknown outside the western hemisphere before 1492—because they are native to the western hemisphere.

Imagine no peanut butter on a PBJ sandwich. Fajitas with no peppers. There would also be no cranberry or walnuts in muffins and no raging controversy about pineapple on pizza. Indigenous foods have added delicious and nutritious dimensions to cuisine for nearly six centuries—yet if you had wanted to try high-end indigenous cuisine prepared by Native chefs in New York City, until now, you were out of luck, because there is not one restaurant in all of New York City featuring indigenous cuisine.

On May 17, the American Indian College Fund will introduce New Yorkers to Indigenous cuisine at its New York City EATTS event from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at The Lighthouse at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers, New York, New York, 10011. Attendees will also learn about how food sovereignty can help ensure the survival of nutritious food sources during climate change.

The following Indigenous celebrity chefs will serve up their favorite creations to guests:

    • Chef Pyet Despain (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is an award-winning private chef and the first winner of Gordon Ramsay’s new TV show, Next Level Chef.
    • Chef Crystal Wahpepah (Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma Sac and Fox) is the Owner and Executive Chef of Wahpepah’s Kitchen in Oakland, California, and a 2022 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Emerging Chef.
    • Chef Elena Terry (Ho-Chunk Nation) is the Executive Chef/Founder of the community outreach catering organization Wild Bearies, which serves people in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse or emotional traumas. Elena emphasizes the healing nature of working with traditional indigenous ingredients while building community.
    • Chef Freddie Bitsoi (Diné) is the owner of FJBits Concepts, a firm that specializes in Native American foodways. Freddie was the Executive Chef of The Mitsitam Native Foods Café and the 2021 bestselling cookbook New Native Kitchens.

To register for the event, visit To arrange interviews with the chefs or Native students, please contact Dina Horwedel at or 303-430-5350.

About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 32 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $15.5 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2020-21. Since its founding in 1989, the College Fund has provided more than $259 million in scholarships, programmatic and community support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit


Photo 1: Chef Pyet Despain (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation)

Photo 2: Chef Crystal Wahpepah (Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma Sac and Fox)

Photo 3: Chef Elena Terry (Ho-Chunk Nation)

Photo 4: Chef Freddie Bitsoi (Diné)

Journalists—The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

Chef Pyet Despain (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation

Chef Pyet Despain (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation

Chef Crystal Wahpepah (Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma Sac and Fox)

Chef Crystal Wahpepah (Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma Sac and Fox)

Chef Elena Terry (Ho-Chunk Nation)

Chef Elena Terry (Ho-Chunk Nation)

Chef Freddie Bitsoi (Diné)

Chef Freddie Bitsoi (Diné)

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