Bannock doughnuts win fans at new First Nation-owned café

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Bannock doughnuts win fans at new First Nation-owned café's Profile


A new twist on an old treat is winning over fans in Prince George, B.C.

A café owned by the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation has started serving bannock covered in chocolate, maple and other flavours alongside its soup and sandwiches — winning praise from customers on social media, and in person.

“The reviews have been really good,” said café manager Rhiannon Primeaux. “Every day I see the same faces coming back and trying the new flavours.” 

The café opened in July inside the Uda Dune Baiyo (House of Ancestors) Lheidli T’enneh conference centre in downtown Prince George. Before opening, Primeaux sat down with chef Tracy Speed to come up with ways to attract new customers, particularly in a time of COVID-19.

“What could we do that was different, kind of stepping outside of the bubble?” she said.

Inspired in part by Kekuli Café in Kelowna, which serves up bannock tacos and breakfast sandwiches, the pair decided to serve specialty bannock in the style of doughnuts. Every week they try out new flavours including Oreo, maple bacon and pumpkin spice, sometimes based off the suggestions of their fans on Facebook. 

Speed said it was important for her to come up with a staple item connected to Indigenous culture. Though traced to Scotland, modern bannock has become deeply connected to Indigenous groups across North America.

Speed also offers up smoked salmon on bannock and, when possible, bison Italian wedding soup. “Just acknowledging we’re in this building that is owned by the Lheidli and we should honour [that].”

Unlike more traditional bannock, which is cooked in animal fat, the offerings at Uda Dune Baiyo are fried in vegetable oil to make them vegan-friendly. But that hasn’t stopped people from sharing their enthusiasm for it on social media, driving more customers into the store.

“We were lucky enough to be the first to really do it in Prince George,” Speed said. “They do sell it at the farmers market, and most people from Prince George have a pretty good grasp of bannock, and appreciation of it. We were lucky.”

Speed and Primeaux make multiple batches of bannock every day. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

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