Aaron Joseph Bear Robe

Aaron Joseph Bear Robe, chef and owner of Keriwa Café

Local Food Hero 2012

Aaron Joseph Bear Robe grew up in Siksika Nation, Alberta. He developed an early interest in cooking and has worked his way up through a number of kitchens since high school. His professional career began at Calgary’s River Café, which he left in 2009 to head to Ontario for a six-month apprenticeship under Michael Stadtländer at Eigensinn Farm. Afterwards he found himself at Toronto’s Splendido Restaurant and cooked there for a year. Bear Robe was eventually ready to spread his entrepreneurial wings, opening up Keriwa Café in August of 2011, in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. He has built Keriwa’s framework off of the principles of local, seasonal ingredients and made-from-scratch recipes; a philosophy he learned from both River Café and Splendido, where he was able to explore rustic, elegant, and locally sourced menus.

Unique Food System Problem

There is a misconception that a ‘pan Aboriginal’ cuisine is common to all First Nations communities across Canada. At the same time, the general public is unfamiliar with the kinds of ingredients and techniques used in Aboriginal cooking.  Toronto is lacking in Aboriginal inspired restaurants to present Torontonians with the opportunity to explore this little-known food culture.

Unique Food System Solution

Keriwa Café is Toronto’s first restaurant to focus on Aboriginal and Canadiana fare that showcases Aboriginal ingredients and techniques, like pemmican and bison, and smoking or preserving. Bear Robe is committed to using the finest quality ingredients, both locally and regionally sourced, and specifically seasonal ingredients, to inspire his dishes and his rustic cooking approach. Keriwa Café supports local farms and strives to promote farm-to-table as much as possible; his suppliers include producers like 100 km Foods, and he also relies on foraged foods. The menu, as a result of following the seasonal harvest, changes frequently and is certain to be fresh and hand-crafted.