When my alarm wentÂ off early this morning, I was actually excited. On paper, the idea of waking up early and driving 45 minutes south to welcome some fish to Seattle might not soundÂ like something worthwhile. But when Alaska Airlines celebrates the arrival of the first Copper River salmon to Seattle, it is worth getting up and joining in on the celebration.
This year is the fifth year that Alaska has done this special event and each year seems to get a bit more exciting. It is just so… well, unique.
The event takes place in the parking lot of Alaska Air Cargo with a bunch of tents, grills, and seats on a Friday morning. There are invited guests, chefs, some famous people, and media all waiting for a fish to come off a plane.
At first, we had the count down until the Boeing 737-400 Combi arrived, and then the fish was given a warm welcome by the crowd. The fish chosen was a whopper — 48 pounds. The fish on the free market would run you $1500 to $1600.
We then watched as the chosen fish was filletedÂ in front of us and given to the different chefs – which is the main part of the celebration.
The event wasÂ not just about watching some fish come off the plane – it is about competition! Three chefs were given an opportunity to cook up the salmon in different ways to try to become the 2014 Copper River Salmon Cook-Off Champ! This year’s cooks were as follows:
- 2013 Copper Chef Cook-Off championÂ John Howie, chef and owner of Seastar Restaurant & Bar, John Howie Steak House, and SPORT Restaurant
- Jason Franey, executive chef for Canlis and James Beard AwardÂ nominee
- Ethan Stowell, executive chef and owner of Tavolata, Anchovies &Â Olives, and James Beard Award nominee
There were three people that had the hard job of tasting each of the dishes and making a decision on the best one (see the recipes here). The esteemed judges at the event were Steven Hauschka, Seahawks place kicker;Â Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariner Hall of Famer; andÂ Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines Chief Operating Officer.
After the judges had their chance to taste the different salmon dishes (this is all going down at about 7:30 am, mind you) they conferred and announced the winner: John Howie held the title for another year!
Of course media and the guests were able to sample the dishes as well and it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is – Copper River salmon is delicious – especially when so fresh.
The plane had much more than just one fish on board – it was carryingÂ more than 24,000 pounds of Copper River salmon. Throughout the year, Alaska Cargo will fly one million pounds of Copper River salmon and more then 24.5 million pounds of Alaska seafood to the lower 48 states.
CHECK OUT PREVIOUS CATCHES
- Copper River Salmon 2013
- Celebration in 2012
- The fish arrive in 2011
- The first of these salmon events in 2010
MORE ALASKA AIRLINES COPPER RIVER SALMON PHOTOS
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