Born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Chef Nuka Fennell is a culinary artist who believes in coming together with their community to feast, celebrate, and make positive change in the world. Growing up in a large mixed family, Nuka’s happiest memories centre food: eating fried caribou with their siblings and cousins; watching as their mother lovingly cut pieces of mataq; and celebrating holidays with their whole family. It is no surprise that cooking and feeding people became their love language, leading to a passion for the culinary arts.
Nuka is equally passionate about decolonization, human rights, and environmentalism, values that are woven into their culinary practices. Whether cooking for catering clients or celebrants at International Women’s Day or Queer Soup Nights, Chef Fennell prepares robustly flavoured and artistically crafted dishes that centre natural and sustainable ingredients, nourish body and spirit, and cultivate comfort and satisfaction.
Chef Fennell has worked in the culinary industry for ten years. In addition to completing formal culinary arts training at Algonquin College, they have studied under many chefs. Today, Nuka owns a small catering company called Fireweed, a plant that symbolizes resiliency and resurgence. They dream about opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Iqaluit that will be a welcoming and safe space for their community. A space that celebrates beautiful food, art, and community building, and gives back as much if not more than it takes.
Chef Fennell is a non-binary trans person. They are also proud to be one of Canada's most northern amateur drag performers.
This video is from the Feeding Our Spirits series, which captures the stories of the entrepreneurs in our Local Food Cohort. Click here to see more videos.
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This video was made by Mark Aspland of Aksut Media
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This is part of the Feeding Our Spirits video series that shares the stories of Northern culinary entrepreneurs who are nourishing their communities with traditional ingredients, innovative techniques, and deep care.