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Bears announce first Small Business All-Pros Gameday Eats winner

MicrosoftTeams-image (8)_Joann Kowalski

The 2023 Small Business All-Pros Gameday Eats edition, presented by Visa, begins with a win for Ketapanen Kitchen as the first featured business of the new season. From September 6 to October 3, Ketapanen Kitchen will be prominently showcased across all Chicago Bears communications and promotion platforms. Among the other selected winners for the 2023 Small Business All-Pros Gameday Eats edition are: Egg Rolls, Etc. (Oct. 4-Nov. 7), Garifuna Flava Restaurant (Nov. 8-Dec. 12), and Triple Crown (Dec. 13-Jan. 7). With a monthly rollout of four total winners, these small business foodie establishments will be available to fans throughout the 2023 season.

Chef Walks First is the Executive Chef & Owner of Ketapanen Kitchen. Ketapanen Kitchen is a Pop-Up Kitchen and Catering company located in the Great Lakes region. Founded in 2015 by Chef Walks First who is also Native American, Ketapanen Kitchen was inspired by the absence of Native indigenous representation within Chicago's culinary scene.

Recognizing the gap in Native representation in the city's culinary landscape, Chef Walks First embarked on a mission to not only serve flavorsome dishes but also educate about Indigenous culture's impact on Chicago's history. As the only Native American catering company in Illinois, Ketapanen Kitchen aims to highlight Indigenous cuisine within the city's diverse gastronomic landscape.

"Ketapanen Kitchen is operated and rooted in strong Traditional Native values. We believe the act of preparing food, feeding people and sharing a meal is sacred so we do so with good thoughts, good feelings, prayers and a good heart," said Chef Walks First. "I was taught that food should always be prepared & served with loving hands. 'Ketapanen' is an expression of love in the Menominee language. My son Jaxx chose that name because he knows that nothing, but love comes out of my kitchen."

Chef Walks First originated from the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, with a communal upbringing. Her culinary journey began with her mother's teachings about food's significance for both body and soul. She furthered her culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts, in Paris, France, equipping her to establish her own business. As the only Native American Woman Executive Chef in the Midwest and one of seven nationwide, Chef Walks First strives to pave the way for others while advocating for health-conscious, Indigenous-focused menus sourced from tribal businesses and local producers.

Some of their most popular items of their menu are Blueberry Bison Tamales, Wild Turkey & Cranberry Tamales, Bison Brisket, Menominee Maple Baked Beans, Ojibwe Purple Potato Salad, and many more.

Chef Walks First also partnered with Chicago Public Library, suburban libraries and universities like Northwestern, U Chicago, UIC and Waubonsee, conducting Indigenous food classes and collaborating on menus. Additionally, she collaborates with organizations including Urban Growers Coalition, Growing Home, Pilot Light and more to promote accessibility, sustainability and health, while developing a wellness program focused on using food as medicine for marginalized communities.

This is the fourth year for the Chicago Bears Small Business All-Pros initiative. This initiative aims to support local restaurants, food trucks and other food service businesses within the Chicago area. Each season, four total establishments will be selected to receive four separate four-week Bears marketing partnerships with the team. Selected businesses will have the opportunity to significantly boost their brand visibility, reaching not only the local community but also a wider audience.

To learn more about Ketapanen Kitchen offerings, menu and upcoming educational events, please visit ketapanenkitchen.com.

Each of these local businesses will enjoy a four-week Bears marketing partnership, which will feature their presence on the team's official social media channels, ChicagoBears.com and email newsletters. Attendees at stadium games can also look forward to encountering these businesses through in-stadium promotions. Since its inception, the initiative has promoted and recognized a total of 18 small businesses.

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