It has become a yearly tradition to wake up before it gets light and head onÂ down to Alaska Air Cargo at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) toÂ welcome the season’s first Copper River Salmon. When that alarm goes off earlyÂ in the morning, it is easy to question why would one get up so early to welcome
Well, this is not just any fish, but many say one of the best in the world. There was huge fanfare as airline employees, media and guests welcomed the VIP salmon to Seattle.
“We’re proud to be the first to bring wild and sustainable Copper River salmon to seafood lovers across the country, in many cases within 24 hours after the fish is caught,” said Torque Zubeck, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo. “With enhanced food quality procedures and additional flights to support the Alaska seafood industry, we are going the extra mile to deliver seafood that’s as fresh as possible.”
The captain has theÂ privilegeÂ to grab the largest fish and take it off the aircraft. Â This year, he was able to find a whopper — 55 pounds.
It is not just about welcoming some fish, but also to have an epic Alaska Air Cargo’s “Copper Chef Cook-off.” This year executive chef Pat Donahue from Anthony’s Restaurant, Jason Wilson of CRUSH and Wayne A Johnson of Ray’s Boathouse competed to make the best Copper River Salmon dish in just 30 minutes.
The large fish was taken to be filet, divided up and given to the chefs. EachÂ restaurant has their own outdoor cooking station and are able to do their thing.
During the 30 minute cook time, guests were entertained by local celebrity Jon Curley. He interacted with the cooks, judges and guests who each donated 75,000 miles to Make A Wish Foundation to earn a ticket to the event. A total of 1.2 million miles were donated for the enve.
After the meals were prepared a panel of judges voted on the best. The judges consisted of Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer; Joanne Dunham, co-owner of Dunham Cellars; Gary Horner, senior winemaker at Erath Winery; and Bill Ayer, chairman of Alaska Air Group.
When everything was said and done the winner, for the third year in a row was Anthony’s Restaurant.
Alaska Airlines flew nearly 25 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond last year, including nearly 1.8 million pounds of Copper River salmon. The airline flies a total of 115 million pounds of cargo annually.
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