Indigenous Chocolatier Discovers Her Roots
Every Wednesday throughout the month of December, we are showcasing Ontario chocolatiers who are doing amazing things with chocolate. Last week, we told you the story of Angela Roest from Centre & Main in Warkworth. Today, meet Chef Tammy Maki, a talented pastry chef and chocolatier from Sudbury.
Tammy Maki: Raven Rising, Sudbury
Chef Tammy Maki, a Red Seal Journeyman pastry chef and baker, has worked in some of the best restaurants, resorts, hotels and bakeries in Canada. But when the covid-19 pandemic hit, she found herself in her hometown of Sudbury, having just launched a pastry consulting business. As weddings and events came to a grinding halt, so did Tammy’s business. Never one to give up, she quickly pivoted her skills into a new venture — Raven Rising — a chocolate e-shop that ships right across Canada.
Her beautiful handcrafted chocolate creations showcase her incredible talent, but it is her use of unique ingredients that tell a deeper story, one of roots and discovery.
Growing up in a Finnish-Canadian household, Tammy Maki knew she was adopted but it wasn’t until later in life that she discovered she had been part of the “Sixties scoop” — a term that refers to the government policy of forceful removing Indigenous children from their families and placing them in the child welfare system. Her adoptive family made sure she knew about her Indigenous roots, but it wasn’t until recently that Tammy started to investigate her origins. She discovered siblings living in both Canada and the United States and found out she is Saulteaux Ojibwe Kwe from White Bear First Nations in Saskatchewan.
“I’m doing my journey my way,” Tammy says about discovering her Indigenous identity. “I’m finding myself in my chocolate.”
Tammy uses her extensive training to carefully pair the subtle flavours of the fair trade chocolate she uses with ingredients that are rooted in Indigenous culture all around the globe.
Ingredients range from the familiar to the more distinct: birch syrup, wild leek and black trumpet mushroom have all found their way into Tammy’s creations. As she discovers each ingredient, she learns about its story and the importance it had to her own ancestors. It is a journey of discovery that she shares with her customers, both through her chocolate and through the write-ups she includes with each sale.
“I explore ingredients and the relationship between those ingredients and the First Peoples,” she says. “To find that kind of story in there is very interesting and I’ve learned a lot.”
Tammy finds inspiration in both her Indigenous heritage and her Finnish upbringing because at the end of the day, everything is rooted in nature and what Mother Earth provides.
“The inspiration for everything is outside,” she says. “All the ingredients, the colours, the beauty. I want to surround people with that beauty.”