‘Not Your Butter Chicken’ Follows Burdock and Co’s Shiva Reddy on a Cultural and Culinary Journey

In Not Your Butter Chicken, sommelier Shiva Reddy travels the country in search of a taste of her heritage.

When Shiva Reddy’s mother was first diagnosed with early-onset dementia almost a decade ago, Reddy braced herself (as much as one can) for losing her connection with her mom. But what she didn’t realize immediately was that she would see her connection to her South Asian heritage fray, too.

“Over the past five or six years, it got really intense,” says Reddy, a server at Michelin-starred Burdock and Co, a trained sommelier and a CBC Radio food columnist. “I was her 24/7 primary caregiver and I started realizing that she’s my tie to my culture. And we’re constantly losing stories.”

Burdock and Co Sommelier

With her new docuseries Not Your Butter Chicken, the Vancouver-born-and-raised Reddy is attempting to tie those memories down. Over four episodes, she travels Western Canada—think Kamloops, Lethbridge and beyond—searching for community and culture, connecting with other South Asians to fill in the gaps that come with being a second-generation Canadian. “It’s an opportunity to have a piece of my mom that I could remember at any given moment in time, but also a way to reconnect and reclaim the roots from my heritage, and it’s so special to be doing this with my community,” she says. Unsurprisingly, food is at the centre of it all, wherever she goes. (“My heart is in my stomach,” Reddy laughs.)

She shares meals with farmers in Kelowna (“whenever we think of the farm-to-table movement, we never actually think outside of the Eurocentric lens”) and cooks with an Indian film star in Fort McMurray (“what she was missing from home was so relatable: her mom and her mom’s rotis”), but the series also captures tender moments at home with Reddy’s mother—at the stove, of course. “Food is a visceral experience; it connects us to our past. You can be on the street and smell something, and you’re right back in your childhood,” she says.

Gurudwara Sikh Temple
Culture Crash Course From Fort McMurray to Lethbridge, Reddy found South Asian Canadians holding strong to their cultural connection.

Punjabi community

Kelowna Farm to Table

Kamloops Farmers

Kalala Vineyards