Indigenous restaurant opening in Sudbury: Hiawatha Osawamick shifting gears following successful catering business.

AuthorRomaniuk, Colleen

Ontario's Indigenous caterer" Hiawatha Osawamick is at a point in her life where she is ready to take on a new adventure.

After 10 years of running a successful catering business, she plans to open Sudbury's first Indigenous restaurant on Regent Street in January, 2020.

Osawamick, who was born and raised in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, has been around good food all her life.

Her aunt owned Pat's Cafe in Wiikwemkoong, and her grandmother was a caterer as well.

"Growing up in the kitchen, watching them, listening to them and the love they had for the food, was just a positive environment for me," she said.

It's what inspired her to pursue her own career in the industry.

After spending eight years working at Casino Rama in Orillia, Osawamick apprenticed at Georgian College and qualified as a Red Seal Chef. She started Hiawatha's Catering in 2008 while living in Toronto.

The early part of her career was busy, but she was forced to make certain sacrifices.

"I couldn't play hockey for the eight years I was there (at Casino Rama)," she said. "That was something I loved to do."

Chef honed skills while catering across Ontario

When she gave birth to her first daughter in 2008, she decided to switch gears. Not only did she feel like there weren't many opportunities for a woman's advancement in such a male-dominated industry, but in her own words, "people like to eat on evenings and weekends and holidays."

With a one-year-old at home, she wanted more flexibility in her work schedule.

Armed with her experience working in nine of Casino Rama's different restaurant outlets, including Chouchiching Court Buffet and St. Germain's Steakhouse, Osawamick ventured out on her own.

She started her catering business in the Greater Toronto Area, servicing the region between Niagara Falls and Oshawa.

About four years ago, she moved back home to be closer to her father. Her business then expanded to include all of Ontario and beyond.

In fact, she recently catered a gala with over 500 people in attendance in Vancouver.

"I have established my clientele all over Turtle Island (North America)," she said.

After experiencing the quality of her food and service, her customers just keep coming back. She has catered for universities, colleges, the Greater Sudbury Po lice Service, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.

At the moment, she estimates that her catering business serves...

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