Calgary-based artist Kenna Burima is well known in her hometown as a phenomenal musician, media personality, and if you’re lucky, a fun and very encouraging music educator. Anyone who knows Kenna knows that music is central to her life, but she’s got another true love: Eastern European comfort food, namely delicious homemade perogies. Because really, who isn’t passionate about perogies?
Kenna will be playing the Sled Island Music Festival in Calgary on Thursday (June 20) at the Palamino — it’s an early show so be sure to get there by 5 pm for her set. Calgarians can also see her in action at the Golden Age Club on Saturday (June 22) playing as a part of Kris Ellestad‘s band. She also plays in a garage rock band called The Pygmies, and the full-band version of Woodpigeon, among other projects. Kenna recently finished recording an album with producer Lorrie Matheson, which will be available soon(ish). But enough about that — let’s talk perogies!
How long have you been cooking? Did you learn from your family or just figure it out on your own?
I’m the oldest of four kids. We grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, which meant that we grew or raised most of what we ate; beef, chicken, duck, turkey and all the vegetables we could stuff into our hungry little mouths. We worked hard — chores in the morning, chores after school and lots of work on the weekend. This meant that we had huge appetites (oh to eat like a kid again). We all took turns making meals, while the rest of the family would be out working. To this day, I still have a hard time cooking for less than six people. There’d be constant pots of potatoes on the boil, roasted meat in the oven, borscht in the pantry, veggies in the fridge. There’d also be the occasional pot of KD that could feed a small army — which I guess we were in a way. I learned to cook from my Baba who lived on the farm with us and of course from my Mom. Both amazing cooks.
If I were coming over for dinner tonight, what would you make me?
My speciality is Eastern European comfort food. I’d definitely show off my Ukrainian heritage with hand made perogies with onions, sour cream and butter, sausage with hot mustard, and then maybe a salad so we wouldn’t feel too guilty. Oh and lots of booze.
My tastes really haven’t changed that much. Because we ate so well as kids, I’ve kept most of the recipes I grew up on and I continue to play with them and change things up. Experiment and try to make it new. I’m nostalgic in many parts of my life (including music) so I like to make meals that I have an emotional connection to.
What do you like to eat when you’re on tour? Is it mostly diner food or do you try to go beyond that kind of stuff?
I learned the hard way that the extra effort and money that’s put into eating healthy on tour is the difference between a good show and a bad show. On long tours we started buying coolers and filling them up with fresh food from the grocery store rather than constantly eating rider food (how many tubs of hummus and tortilla chips can one human safely eat?) or eating at the pub, which was usually fish and chips or burgers.
What are your favourite restaurants in Calgary? Any memorable restaurants in other cities that you’ve found during your travels?
Sushi! I would have to say that Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi on Centre Street N. is our favourite haunt. My boyfriend Steve Fletcher and I go there probably once every two weeks and we’re always treated like family. A buddy I went to music school with, Koki Aihara, a fellow pianist runs it with his family. Great cuts of sashimi and creative rolls.
One tour we did with Woodpigeon, we stopped off at this tiny little restaurant owned by Madonna in a little village PJ Harvey lived in. I forget the name of both the restaurant and the village but the food was amazing. It was the most picturesque and quaint dinning experience I think I’d ever had. I think I had roast woodpigeon for dinner. Seriously.
What is your favourite kind of pie?
It’s a toss up between Coconut and Banana Cream Pie. Give me both please.
Look for a perogie recipe from Kenna in the coming weeks. Until then, here’s the video for Woodpigeon’s “Robin Song,” which was just nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award.