A Navajo Chef Looks to History in His Homage to Native Cuisine


Freddie Bitsoie, right, the executive chef of the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian, joked with a prep cook, Jamal Gomez, in the kitchen last week.

Al Drago/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — It took 12 years for the nation’s pre-eminent Native American restaurant to hire its first Native American executive chef. Yet the chef, Freddie Bitsoie, is feeling a more particular pressure.

“I stress a lot about my salmon,” he said with a grin. “I think about it even when I’m at home. I think about my work about 23 hours a day, even while I’m sleeping.”

Mr. Bitsoie’s newest kitchen is the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe at the

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