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Wahpepah’s Kitchen, a renowned Bay Area catering business run by Indigenous Chef Crystal Wahpepah, is moving into Unit 133 at 3301 E 12th St in Oakland. After a decade of serving customers delicious Native American cuisine, Wahpepah’s Kitchen is ready for a more permanent home at The Fruitvale Village, adjacent to the Fruitvale BART station.
Customers can look forward to some of Wahpepah’s Kitchen’s most popular entrées, including Bison Blue Corn Meatballs, Kickapoo Chili, and Wild Rice Pilaf. In addition to entrees, one can expect desserts, teas, fresh salads made with in-season ingredients, as well as Native takes on traditional dishes such as acorn batter waffles.
Born and raised in Oakland, Chef Crystal Wapepah is a registered member of the Kickapoo nation of Oklahoma. Despite growing up with a vast array of multi-cultural cuisine just outside her doorstep, Wahpepah noticed a lack of Indigenous and Native American food among what was out there. This inspired her to enroll at Le Cordon Bleu San Francisco, which eventually led to her becoming the first Native American chef to compete on Food Network’s Chopped, according to an early profile.
With her cooking, Wapepah notes on her website that she “values deeply the reciprocal practices of mindfully choosing Indigenous food sources with which she creates her cuisine. Her ingredients come from people and lands to which she is connected and has a relationship.”
The restaurant will be moving into a space previously home to Reem’s, whose owner Reem Assil wanted to move her bakery to a larger kitchen. Assil personally reached out to Wahpepah to see if she’d be interested in taking over the space. It has been recently reported that Wahpepah’s Kitchen is gearing up to open towards the end of October 2021.