Culinary craftsman Chef David Wolfman, an internationally recognized expert in Indigenous cuisine and an educator at George Brown College’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, has won a 2022 Indspire Award honouring First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who demonstrate outstanding achievement.
Wolfman of the Xaxli’p First Nation in British Columbia received the honour in the Arts category at the awards ceremony in Ottawa on May 12. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the event and met with the winners.
“Love of food and love of family — they all come together when we eat,” Wolfman said. “I say make cooking an enjoyable experience. Prepare for it with the proper tools and equipment and get in there with your hands to feel the spirit of food.”
Indspire is an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people for the long-term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada. The organization delivers programming, provides resources, and distributes millions of dollars in bursaries and scholarships for First Nation, Inuit, and Métis students.
Indspire says its annual awards represent “the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows upon its own people.”
A passionate champion of Indigenous cuisine
Celebrating and sharing his expertise in wild game and Indigenous cuisine has been the cornerstone of Wolfman’s long and impressive career so far. He launched and ran Toronto’s first Indigenous catering company, Lillooet, in the 1990s, and he produced and hosted Cooking with the Wolfman on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) for nearly two decades. Wolfman’s signature Indigenous Fusion style was a key feature of the show — cooking “traditional foods with a modern twist” — introducing Indigenous cuisine to wider audiences across North America and beyond.
Wolfman’s expertise and passion for Indigenous culture and cooking make him a highly sought-after restaurant and menu consultant, and he’s often invited to present at First Nations business association events and career fairs.
In 2017, he released the acclaimed cookbook Cooking with the Wolfman: Indigenous Fusion, co-authored with his partner Marlene Finn.
A leader in culinary education
Wolfman provides innovative and inspiring instruction at George Brown’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, where he’s been a faculty member since 1994. He created the first college-level Indigenous Cuisine program in Canada and has taught and mentored many Indigenous students on their path to successful culinary careers.
Over the years, Wolfman has travelled to high school career fairs across Ontario to provide cooking demonstrations and inspire young people to explore what the industry has to offer. He is also a popular speaker at First Nations youth conferences.
Wolfman works closely with Audrey Rochette, Director of Indigenous Initiatives at George Brown, to support the department's work at the college in meaningful ways.
“David has been instrumental in the growth of our department and his expertise is invaluable,” Rochette said. “He has also been a tremendous support to me personally. Congratulations, David."
Congratulations Chef Wolfman, from the entire George Brown College community, on your success and for this amazing honour!