1. Seward chef crowned king of Alaska seafood
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute awarded returning competitor Chef Kevin Lane of Chinooks Waterfront in Seward as the winner of the second annual Great Alaska Seafood Cook Off. As winner of the event, Chef Lane will represent Alaska in the Great American Seafood Cook Off in New Orleans this August. During the Alaska event that took place on May 8, six professional Alaska chefs were given one hour to create and plate a dish featuring wild Alaska seafood and Alaska Grown products that was then judged by a panel of well-known and established chefs from across the country. Chef Laneâ€™s dish of sourdough-crusted sable fish with Yukon Gold potato puree, sea bean sautÃ©, smoked salmon jus, rhubarb aigre-doux and basil coulis stood out among the dishes of the five other chefs to claim the title as â€œKing of Alaska Seafood.â€
Contact: Tyson Fick, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
Photo credit: Brian Adams
2. Alaska communities celebrating summer solstice
The summer equinox on June 21 marks an important observance statewide for Alaskans thriving on 20+ hours of daylight. Nome will celebrate the summer solstice on Saturday, June 22, with the Midnight Sun Festival featuring a themed parade, a polar bear swim and a folk festival organized by the local arts council (www.visitnomealaska.com/eventscalendar.html). Fairbanksâ€™ annual Midnight Sun Festival on June 23 shuts down part of downtown for a 12-hour party, barbecue cook off, more than 180 booths with crafts and art for sale, a river slalom race and more (downtownfairbanks.com/events/midnight-sun-festival). Anchorageâ€™s annual Downtown Summer Solstice Festival includes a variety of activities including the Hero Games, a friendly competition between Alaskaâ€™s first responders dueling it out over relay races and obstacle courses; activities for children including a puppet show, a kayak pool and a giant sandbox; and even a chainsaw art competition (www.anchoragedowntown.org). Seldoviaâ€™s Summer Solstice Music Festival takes place June 20-23 and consists of two full days of workshops, jam sessions, evening performances and features visiting and local performers (seldoviamusicfestival.wordpress.com). For more information on visiting Alaska, go to www.TravelAlaska.com.
Tara Stevens, Thompson & Co. Public Relations
Photo credit: Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Ltd.
3. Alaska farmerâ€™s markets in full swing for summer
The return of the seasonal Alaska farmerâ€™s markets signals the official kick-off of the summer season. This year, Alaska will see 40 farmerâ€™s markets across the state, an increase from summer 2012. Residents and visitors can pick up their favorite Alaska Grown foods and Alaskan-made products from Fairbanks to Kodiak, Haines to Anchorage, Mat-Su Valley to the Kenai Peninsula and many communities in between. Restaurant-goers may notice more items on menus branded as â€œAlaska Grown,â€ signifying the use of Alaska agricultural products in their dishes. The Alaska Grown initiative helps local farmers market goods and develop demand for Alaska agricultural products. The near 24-hour daylight and warmer temperatures make up for the long winter season and in Alaska, resulting in gigantic vegetables, tasty fruits and a variety of herbs -- not to mention the wide array of dairy, meat and seafood available. For more information on Alaskaâ€™s farmerâ€™s markets and other Alaska Grown programs, visit dnr.alaska.gov/ag.
Contact: Amy Pettit, Division of Agriculture
Photo credit: Alaska Division of Agriculture
4. Second annual oyster showcase sure to be appetizing
Oyster lovers can indulge in Alaskaâ€™s growing mariculture industry at the second annual OysterFest, taking place in Juneau on July 13. Showcasing Alaska-grown oysters, attendees can learn shellfish safety and preparation tips, meet oyster growers from Southeast Alaska and view demonstrations from guest Chef Sandy Ingber, the executive chef of Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City. OysterFest is sponsored by Haa AanÃ, LLC a subsidiary of Sealaska Corporation, and will be held in the Sealaska parking lot. Participants can also sample the shellfish and enjoy oyster-themed menu pairings at local restaurants around town. The inaugural event was held for the first time last year during Juneauâ€™s biennial Celebration, a cultural and dance festival that showcases the Tsimshian, Tlingit and Haida people of Southeast Alaska.
Contact: Shawn Blumenshine, Sealaska Corporation
Photo credit: Sealaska Corporation