Chef Sean Sherman Named One Of TIME's Most Influential People For 2023

Joining the likes of President Joe Biden and entertainer Beyoncé on TIME's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2023 is chef Sean Sherman, who was recognized in the "Innovator" category for his work with restoring indigenous food systems. This is the 20th year that TIME has compiled this list, and the 100 outstanding people who made the list were divided into six categories: artists, innovators, titans, leaders, icons, and pioneers. While some names are highly recognizable, like business owner Elon Musk, others are not quite as well known, like the good chef. 

A member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, Sherman has earned recognition as he seeks changes and improvements in how Indigenous people access their food. Sherman began his culinary career nearly 30 years ago and has received several awards, including the 2018 Bush Foundation Fellowship, the 2018 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, and the James Beard Leadership Award the year in 2019. Sherman operates The Sioux Chef in Minneapolis, which offers catering and food education, as well as fine dining at his restaurant, Owamni, which dishes up refined takes on Native American fare like bison, berries, and squash. 

Sherman also helped in the creation of a food truck known to locals as the Tatanka Truck, which sells pre-contact foods in the Dakota and Minnesota regions. The site that features the truck's menu says, "You will not find any dairy, wheat flour, processed sugar, soy, or processed foods in our offerings."

Innovative work

It's Sherman's work to restore the food traditions of his ancestors that have earned the chef the esteem of his colleagues and people worldwide. Part of his accomplishments includes founding the non-profit organization NĀTIFS, which stands for North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems. Through NĀTIFS, Sherman can educate others about many aspects of the indigenous food systems, from ethnobotany and agriculture to the culinary. Sherman and a team of educators, advocates, and chefs work with indigenous foodways advocates seeking policy changes. They also help others who are interested in learning more about the food culture of the Native American population. Sherman's knowledge is based upon his research of Indigenous people's farming techniques, wild food usage, harvesting, hunting and fishing, and food preservation. 

"I am thrilled to accept this honor on behalf of my ancestors, who lived in balance with the natural world," Sherman told Minneapolis' WSAZ in response to being recognized by TIME. He went on to say, "The cultural knowledge our ancestors left behind is a gift to us, one I am committed to recovering and sharing for the benefit of generations to come."