Alaska: Conquering the Last Foodie Frontier
It is easy to find award winning chefs in big urban cities—but for travelers who have an appetite for untamed exploration, it’s a special treat to find one at the end of a dirt road in America’s largest national park. You won’t recognize these chefs’ names, but you likely spent the day hiking past the ingredients in their dessert menu. Welcome to the Land of the Midnight Sun, where chefs forage for salmonberries in the wild, design eight-course tasting menus, and regularly earn nods from Michelin and James Beard.
Seward Brewing Company
Forget bottled spices, Seward Brewing Company taps seasonings “impossible for a foodie to see anywhere else,” says chef/owner Erik Slater, who picks chick weed and beach grass for mild herby flavorings. A chef since the age of 18, Erik takes risks with menu items like the house favorite—halibut salad, which plays with candied pale malts used in making its award-winning beers. It is bright and earthy and pairs righteously with one of the light house ales.
Eastern Alaska clams with bacon, kale, tomato, and ale sauce at Seward Brewing Company. (Photo: Erik Slater)
Run by the Lesh family since 1965, Gustavus Inn wanted to simply serve overnight guests (and a few hungry wanderers) family-style dinner in a historic homestead in Glacier Bay National Park. But a reputation for everything strawberries and salmon put them on the culinary map with a James Beard Foundation America’s Classics restaurant distinction. “We smoke it, make sushi, make gravlaks and sashimi, blacken it, poach it, stuff with crab, crisp the skin, and create the most delicious broth with the heads,” says co-owner and wife JoAnn.
The Gustavus Inn grows much of the food that is served to their guests. (Photo: Joann Lesh)