Cezin Nottaway - Quebec

Indigenous chef humbled by another appearance on Women In Business panel

 Cezin Nottoway

Cezin Nottaway, who owns Wawatay Catering, will be one of the presenters on the Women's In Business panel at this year's Cando Conference.

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Whatever the occasion, Cezin Nottaway is ready, willing and able to feed people.

For the past nine years, Nottaway, who is Algonquin, has been operating her business, Wawatay Catering. The company specializes in Anishinaabe cuisine, inspired by recipes from Nottaway’s kokoms (grandmothers).

Nottaway also wanted to honour her ancestors in the naming of her business. Wawatay is the Algonquin word for the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

Nottaway, who is from Rapid Lake, a First Nation in Quebec’s Outaouais region, is now living on another First Nation in Quebec, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg.

Prior to the pandemic, the majority of Nottaway’s business was in Ottawa, about a 90-minute drive from her residence.

“I’ve been doing everything from my house and then delivering it,” said Nottaway, who is 41.

But there are some exceptions. For example, if a kitchen is available to work out of, Nottaway will travel to her clients and prepare meals onsite.

Nottaway had graduated from Ottawa’s Algonquin College with a diploma in chef training and culinary management in 2005.

Depending on how big an order is, Nottaway occasionally does hire some individuals to assist her. Sometimes she’ll need a helping hand from just one or two individuals. But she’s also had as many as 25 people help out at times.

“I’ll hire students or anyone who is available,” she said. “I hire people willing to work hard and have some fun.”

For the second time in her career, Nottaway will be a member of the Women In Business panel at the Cando Conference.

This year’s conference, which will be held entirely online because of the pandemic, will be held on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28.

Presentations for the Women In Business panel will be held Oct. 21.

Nottaway had first been a member of the Women In Business panel at Cando’s 2015 conference, which was staged in Toronto.

She’s thrilled she’s been asked to once again be a conference panelist.

“It’s super,” said Nottaway, who is fluent in English, French and Algonquin. “It’s an honour and I’m humbled. I’m happy for people to see the hard work I’ve put into the business.”

Wawatay Catering provides meals for most occasions, including office parties, corporate meetings, birthday parties, anniversaries and wedding receptions.

The company offers three separate packages. The first one provides meals for 15-20 people. Another one serves 20-25 people. And a third one has enough food to feed 30-36 people.

Wawatay Catering is also able to accommodate both smaller and larger groups.

Besides providing breakfast, lunch and dinner options, the company can also offer hors d’oeuvres, buffets, platters, salads and desserts. 

Nottaway is also a board member of the newly established Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations, a non-profit organization.

“I want to be able to give back in the field, be a mentor and do workshops,” she said.