Kai Chef Josh Johnson Dishes on Guy Fieri and Why He Likes to Eat at MIM
|Kai's cozy private dining room|
Name one or two indigenous ingredients you like working with and explain why: I love working with saguaro syrup because it is one of the rarest ingredients in the world and we are fortunate to have access to it. I also love working with chilies. I enjoy the variety we have in the Southwest and the unique flavor profile each one has to offer. Certain chilies can add smokiness whereas others can add a sweetness.
How would you typify Kai: Native American ingredients + classic French technique? Or something else?: Native American Ingredients + French technique with a modern approach.
What people don't really know/understand about Native American cooking is: Besides how unique it is, I would say that most people don't know how many medicinal purposes and healing properties are in some of our key ingredients.
At one point, Kai had Native American chefs on board -- Sandy Garcia and later Jack Strong. Do you feel at a disadvantage for not being Native American? And is the cuisine still "true"?: I may have been at a disadvantage but not any more so than an American chef who travels to Europe to learn French cuisine techniques.
But I also feel that that's part of what drew me to Kai, the opportunity and the challenge to learn another cuisine and approach. It also fueled my desire to learn from and about the community and its history, which was the inspiration for this cuisine. As far as being TRUE, Kai's offerings will always be true as long as The Gila River Indian Community has a story to share. The culture and the history is not only our backbone, but it is precisely what makes Kai unique and inspirational.