Chef Sarah Mierau of Tradish, wearing a ribbon skirt in front of The Ancestor Cafe in Fort Langley, British Columbia.

Tradish, a taste of Indigenous tradition

If you’ve tried our Indigenous charcuterie boards recently then you have likely enjoyed the traditional plant medicine jams of Chef Sarah Meconse Mierau. Her blueberry lavender and chamomile pear jams have added to the elevation of our customer’s experiences when spread on fresh baked bannock or dolloped onto a slice of bison.

Sarah is a member of the Sayisi Dene First Nation, and of German Mennonite descent. But like so many children of 60s Scoop survivors, she grew up without much exposure to Indigenous culture. She had to make a conscious effort as an adult to reconnect with her heritage. Which led her to opening “Tradish.”

Traditional Indigenous food is now Sarah’s business. She has a jam company, a food truck, and a cafe. But for Sarah, traditional food is more than just a business; it’s a homage to her mother.

“Growing up, my mom had a funny way of saying things. She always added “ish” at the end of things,” Sarah remembers with a smile. “She'd say, I'll see you at noonish. Or, it'll be fun-ish. So when I named my business, I wanted to honor her in that way. Traditional food is my business but with new cooking methods and ways of doing things, so ‘Tradish’ just felt right.”

Portrait of Indigenous Chef Sarah Meconse Meirau, owner of Tradish Jams

Sarah believes in the importance of evolving traditions to stay relevant. “We're always evolving. I think it's necessary. In order to bring our old way of culture into the new, we have to adapt, right? Can you just serve plant medicines now? Well, you can, but if you want a broader spectrum, like you want the youth to try it, you have to introduce it in ways that it tastes good to them. Right?”

At her cafe, Sarah champions fusion cuisine while respecting traditional ingredients. “I like fusion cuisine as long as we're honoring the protocols of the ingredients. In my cafe, I only serve game meats like bison, elk, and wild boar. But I do things like making bannock tacos, which weren't our traditional food, but it's something that this generation really loves. It's powwow food. It's a way that we can get the main ingredients that are just so healthy for us out to this generation.”

Sarah’s business journey with Tradish began with a vision to make culturally appropriate foods accessible to urban Indigenous communities. “I grew up in the city, and growing up, I saw nothing that was meant for me. Absolutely nothing. So I want the future generations to see tradition and be like, hey, this is meant for us. You know what I mean? A lot of us who are in the city are very disconnected due to the 60s Scoop and residential schools. Like, I've never been to my community. My mom was taken before the age of one, and she's never been back to her community before she passed away.”

Sarah’s cafe, the Ancestor Cafe in Fort Langley, has become a beacon for young people seeking to reconnect with their culture. “I’ve noticed a lot of young people coming in and they're like, I'm trying to learn more about my culture and I don't know where to go. And, you know, just having this cafe and having these food items, and just being there, and showing them how I got back into my culture, and lead by example, is a passion for me - bringing culturally appropriate foods for urban Indigenous - because I've been there.”

Indigenous Chef Sarah Meconse Meirau wearing her Metis ribbon skirt in front the Ancestor Cafe in Fort Langley
When it comes to bannock, Sarah has a clear preference. “Fried bannock or fresh baked bannock? I love me some fried bread. Baked bannock is good, but, uh, I'm a fried bread girl. Yeah. Although, I always maintain that the fry bread needs to be fresh. It still needs to be warm.”

With her cafe newly established, Sarah is already  looking to the future. “Now that we're settled in the cafe, I definitely want to work on some more products, like salad dressings and getting my simple syrups bottled. I definitely want to expand.”

Sarah’s ultimate goal is to inspire and empower the next generation. “It’s my goal to lead by example. I didn't know what I was capable of until I was 38. Could you imagine if these kids learn this when they're 16, 17, 18, how more successful they're going to be than us? That's something that I want to give to the future generations and just show them. That's why I hire Indigenous youth here. Because I want them to see that this is very possible. All it takes is a little bit of effort and believing in yourself, you know? That's something that I didn't have as a youth. I didn't even have it for most of my adulthood. It took a long time for me to have that little sliver of confidence. Like, hey, maybe I can do this and then just start doing it and putting the effort towards it.”

“I still have to whisper that to myself.”

Reflecting on her rapid achievements, Sarah shares, “I've started a jam company, a food truck, and a cafe in just two years. So, imagine if these kids started in their early 20s. What could they be and how much could they accomplish?”

Through Tradish, Sarah is not just serving food; she’s serving hope, culture, and a vision for the future.

Wearing a green, Metis ribbon skirt, stands Chef Sarah Meconse Meirau of Tradish Jams
Back to blog