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PHOTOS: 1st Bannock Bake Off held in Quesnel

Top three bannock makers selected by tasters

Freshly made bannock was spread with butter and jam as dozens gathered at the Quesnel Tillicum Society Native Friendship Centre for the 1st annual Bannock Bake Off.

Different types of the traditional fry bread staple in Indigenous communities were sampled Saturday, Sept. 17, with the top three winners selected by tasters taking home a flower bouquet, gift cards, medallion and bragging rights.

“First and foremost, we needed something in our community since COVID-19,” said organizer Amy Robertson. “Just something fun and something that’s going to bring in a lot of different people from a lot of different ethnic and cultural groups.”

According to Robertson, the Quesnel Tillicum Society Native Friendship Centre has also changed a fair bit over the years, of which many are unaware.

All bannock was prepared off-site and divided into sample-friendly pieces for tasters.

“Personally, what I love about it is the memories that I have as a child,” Robertson said. “Making bannock with my aunt and that quality time.”

Of the more than seven tables lined with bannock and spreads, tasters were put to the test of choosing the best three.

Winning first place Raven Joseph, who can usually be spotted selling bannock at various events in the Prince George area with Datsan Cho Bannock-Raven’s Fun Buns.

Joseph has been making bannock for the past ten years.

“My mom gave me her recipe over the phone, and it took me probably five years to get it good because it kept turning into hockey pucks for a while,” Joseph said with a laugh. “I just kept practicing.”

As first place winner Joseph also had her name engraved on a trophy that Robertson said will remain at the Quesnel Tillicum Society Native Friendship Centre.

Second place went to Debbie Martin, who learned how to make bannock from elders in her family, including her grandmother, mother, and aunt in Fort St. James.

She enjoys making bannock for her grandchildren.

“It was fun, and I could do it again only if I get her [Joseph] recipe,” Martin jokingly said. “She has to enlighten me what she did.”

Third place went to Yvonne Reimer, who also likes making the traditional fry bread she learned from her mother for her grandchildren.

Reimer recalled making hundreds of pieces of bannock at the Quesnel Junior School where she showed students how to make it.

“I’m 68 years old, and I’ve been making bannock since I was eight, and this was awesome,” Reimer said. “They should have done this years ago.”

Read More: VIDEO: Restoring the culinary and cultural bounty of ancient Indigenous sea gardens in B.C.

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