Competitors mix and deep fry reservation mainstay to see who makes the best frybread

Char-Koosta News 

POLSON — The grease was hot but the competition was hotter during the KwaTaqNuk Resort and Casino’s inaugural fry bread tournament. Twelve chefs from Arizona to Elmo competed for the title of best fry bread maker. The winner was honored with a trophy featuring a small golden slab of frying bread and a $300 prize.

Amongst the chefs included Willy Caye, head chef and founder of “Willy Burger.” He said he learned his recipe from his grandmother. “I can make fry bread very quickly,” he said. “One time I made over 100 pieces in an hour when I was the only food stand at a powwow.”

Keenan Lee Barlow made Navajo-style fry bread. “What makes Navajo bread different is that it’s light and fluffy. I don’t use yeast,” he said.

Iris Caye said she learned to make fry bread from her sister. “My sister used to be the bread maker of our family and then one day she taught me how to make it,” she said. “Since then, I’ve been the bread maker.”

The bread entries were as diverse as the chefs. Some bread was thin while others were fluffy. Some were sweet while others were salty.  Some was golden while others were light. Who was equipped to determine which bread is best?

A panel of four judges took on the challenge including: Deanna Ellenwood, Rachel Bowers, KwaTaqNuk employee Josiah Black, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Councilman Leonard Two Teeth (Elmo). The bread was judged on: color, texture, aroma, taste, and over-all impression.

In the end, the first place winner was Francis Adams, second was Michealann Stasso, and third was Justice Cree.

The fry bread riot was part of the “Bringing Families Together” event, which included traditional games, cultural exhibits, stands, and a powwow. The event was hosted in collaboration between the KwaTaqNuk Resort, The People’s Center, and “Together As One.”

Co-organizer Josiah Black took a moment to thank guests for attending. “We wanted to host this event to bring families in our community together for something fun and positive,” he said. “When we come together it’s healing for all of us. We wanted to thank everyone for attending and making this happen.”

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