The smell of fish was in the air early on the morning of May 16, as Alaska Air Cargo delivered 24,100 pounds of the season’s first shipment of Copper River salmon to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The Copper River salmon’s arrival marks the beginning of the summer salmon season and is highly anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The salmon, which comes from three Alaska seafood processors: Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods, left Cordova just after 2 a.m. May 16 onboard an Alaska Airlines 737-400 Combi.
No other airline delivers more Copper River salmon to the Lower 48 states than Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Captain David Boshell and First Officer Melissa Van Dyke, flew the fish in from Cordova. The flight was greeted at Sea-Tac by 10 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP Gold members and representatives from USO Northwest, U.S. Marines and U.S. Coast Guard, along with more than 20 Air Group employees.
“Even our fish fly first class,” Boshell said. “By delivering the first salmon, we’re helping kick-start the summer for Alaska fisheries.”
Following the arrival of the first fish, three top Seattle-area chefs – John Howie, owner of Seastar; Jason Franey of Canlis and Ethan Stowell, owner of several Seattle restaurants including Tavolata, Anchovies and Olives and Staple and Fancy – had 30 minutes to prepare and serve the first catch of the season to a panel of judges.
Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariner Hall of Famer; Steven Hauschka, kicker for the Seattle Seahawks and Alaska’s Chief Operating Officer Ben Minicucci, selected the defending champion John Howie as the winner.
Event attendees were invited to answer trivia questions in order to win prizes. Alaska’s MVP guests were also entered to win several grand prizes including an all-expenses paid trip to Cordova.
Onlookers were also invited to sample the season’s first Copper River Salmon. The recipes that were prepared for the Copper Chef Cook-off are available to download at http://bit.ly/RWP6vn.