Food and Drink

'Sioux Chef' Sean Sherman makes Time’s list of 100 most influential people

portrait standing in a field
Twin Cities chef and Indigenous food advocate Sean Sherman scans the landscape for flavorful and edible plants at a Hugo, Minn., farm in June 2022. Time Magazine on Thursday named Sherman one of the nation's 100 most influential people.
Nicole Neri for MPR News 2022

Twin Cities-based restaurateur and Indigenous food advocate Sean Sherman on Thursday was named one of the country’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023 by Time magazine.

The James Beard Award-winning chef is co-founder of the nonprofit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems in south Minneapolis and founder of Owamni, the high-profile riverside restaurant in Minneapolis centered around Native food and cooking.

Sherman's entry on the list was written by Padma Lakshmi, the longtime host of the TV cooking competition “Top Chef” and a fellow Time honoree in the “Titans” category.

She wrote that Sherman “brings a deep sense of pride and identity to the Indigenous community, the importance of which can’t be overstated,” calling him “a powerful force of good in the culinary world and beyond.”

In an interview with MPR News on Thursday, Sherman said he’d heard from Time recently that he might make the list — the latest in a string of national honors.

“I think it really opens up a lot of doors, you know, because we’re just working so hard to talk about a different perspective of foods and food systems in general and just, you know, really think about the history of the land that we’re standing on,” Sherman said.

The success of Owamni, he added, “is really just a proof of concept that a restaurant like that can exist in today’s world and be popular.”

Owamni has been closed since an electrical fire April 5. Sherman said the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which owns the building, is working on repairs after leaking water apparently got into electrical equipment.

He said the restaurant will likely remain closed through at least the end of April, but that insurance has helped weather the financial difficulties from the temporary closure.

Sherman made Time’s list of influential innovators alongside other honorees, including comedian Jerrod Carmichael, actress Natasha Lyonne and Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.