Sitka Kitch to host vegetarian Indian food buffet dinner and silent auction fundraiser on March 18

Join us for a special fundraising buffet dinner and silent auction for the Sitka Kitch from 5:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at Beak Restaurant.

This event will feature a variety of vegetarian Indian dishes cooked by Beak chef/owner Renée Jakaitis Trafton and her crew. In addition to the dinner, there will be a silent auction, door prizes, fun and games. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the silent auction closes at 7:30 p.m.

Seating is limited for this event, so register early. The cost is $40 per person, and the registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16. All proceeds benefit the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, which provides cooking and food preservation classes to Sitka residents. It also provides kitchen rentals on a limited basis for food businesses.

You can reserve your spot at this event with PayPal or a credit/debit card by going to our online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, and clicking on the event title and following the instructions from there. If you prefer to use cash or check to reserve your spot, please call Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) or email chandler@sitkawild.org.

Sitka Local Foods Network to host annual meeting and potluck on Saturday, Feb. 15

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its annual meeting and potluck dinner from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (please use the back door, just before you reach St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm).

Participants are encouraged to bring a dish featuring local foods to share, and please bring your own utensils (note, this is a non-alcoholic event). This is a casual and social event that serves as a good time for people to learn more about the Sitka Local Foods Network and what we do around town.

Attendees will hear about project updates, plus the current board will vote on by-law changes. We will introduce our new board members for 2020, and we will confirm the election of our officers. We also have a couple of openings on our board. People wanting to learn more about joining can click this link for info and applications.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Sitka Local Foods Network can email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com to learn about our projects and volunteer opportunities.

Sitka Local Foods Network hosts third annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest

A sampling of food products grown, manufactured or processed in Sitka in recent years.

Do you think you have a great idea for a food business or product from Sitka? Do you grow food, fish for food, or cook food in Sitka? The Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting the third annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest in an effort to spark local food entrepreneurs so we can make more local food available to residents and visitors. The contest entry deadline is March 6.

This contest will provide two $1,500 kicker prizes — one for established food businesses and one for start-up businesses (no older than two years) — to help entrepreneurs launch or expand their food businesses. The contest is open to food businesses and individuals making and selling food products in Sitka, Alaska. All food business ideas must be geared toward getting more locally grown, harvested and/or produced food into the Sitka marketplace through sales in grocery stores, the Sitka Food Co-Op, the Sitka Farmers Market, restaurants, or individual marketing (such as a community supported agriculture/CSA or community supported fisheries/CSF program).

“The Sitka Local Foods Network’s mission is to get more locally harvested and produced food into the diets of Southeast Alaskans,” said Charles Bingham, Sitka Local Foods Network board president. “For the past decade we’ve offered a entrepreneurs a chance to sell their produce, bread and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market, grown produce to sell at the market through St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and provided a garden education program to residents. We think this contest is the next step toward getting more local food into the Sitka marketplace.”

Last year, we gave $1,500 prizes to Brittany Dumag of the Castaway food cart in the start-up business category and to Tamara Kyle of Sitka Sauers in the established business category. We also gave a special $250 award to 12-year-old Abigail Ward who entered her Sitka Seasonings business. Brittany made Cuban pork sandwiches (using pork from North Pole) and other food to sell at various places in Sitka, including the Sitka Farmers Market. Tamara planned to ramp up her fermented foods business, but she ended up having some health issues that prevented her from completing her project and she ended up refunding most of her prize money. Abby made spice blends for seafood and other meats, which she sold at the first two Sitka Farmers Markets and at other venues.

In our inaugural contest in 2018, we gave a $1,500 prize to Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals in the established business category. We had no entrants in the start-up business category, so no prize was awarded in 2018. Hope used her prize money to hire two interns to help her harvest seaweed and kelp and to help produce her products.

Participants in this contest are eligible and encouraged to enter other food business innovation contests, such as the Path To Prosperity or Symphony of Seafood contests. All participants retain the proprietary rights to their products and ideas. This contest is open to new and existing food businesses in Sitka. Student businesses (such as those fostered by Junior Achievement or similar programs) are welcome.

There is a small $25 entry fee for this contest. All participants (business and individual) must complete and submit our contest entry form by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 6, 2020 (by snail mail so it arrives before the deadline to Sitka Local Foods Network, Food Business Innovation Contest Entries, 408-D Marine Street, Sitka, Alaska, 99835, or by email with the Subject Line of “Food Business Innovation Contest Entries” to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com). Submitting a business plan (up to 20 pages) is recommended, but not required.

Our entry form will have room for you to describe your food business idea in a few paragraphs, but submitting a business plan will give you more room to outline your plans for funding and marketing the idea and will help your overall score. Judging will be based on how your food business idea provides new local food options in Sitka, how novel is your food business idea, how feasible is your food business (can it make a profit and be sustainable), and how professional is your presentation. At some time in late March or early April, the Sitka Local Foods Network may host a pitch presentation, where judges will interview the contest entrants and try samples of the food products. Our judging panel will score your presentation and entry form based on how your idea has a measurable impact on providing local food in Sitka (25%), has the potential for commercialization (25%), provides new employment in Sitka (25%) and fills a need in the Sitka marketplace (25%).

In 2020 we are making some changes to the rules. First, each entry now MUST include a sample, itemized budget showing how the business owner plans to use the prize money. Second, each prize winner will sign a winner’s agreement contract before receiving the prize money that lists a series of benchmarks toward getting the product/service to market that need to be met by a certain date or else all or part of the prize money will need to be refunded to the Sitka Local Foods Network.

If we find additional sponsors, we may add additional prizes and categories (such as fish or farm). Depending on the number of entries and interest of the participants, we may host a reception where contestants can demonstrate their products to Sitka residents. If the reception happens, there will be a chance for people to vote on their favorite products with the winner receiving the People’s Choice Award (this will be separate than the two main prizes selected by our judging panel). We are hoping to find a sponsor for the People’s Choice Award. Note, if our panel of judges determine there isn’t a worthy entrant in one or both categories, then the Sitka Local Foods Network reserves the right not to award a prize. Marijuana edibles are not eligible for the contest.

• Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest Entry Form 2020

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch’s Winter Baking Series class Sourdough Bread With Carolyn Rice

Students learned how to bake sourdough bread using a sourdough starter named Xavier during the first class of the Sitka Kitch‘s Winner Baking Series, Sourdough Bread With Carolyn Rice on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Sitka Kitch rental commercial kitchen.

Carolyn is an Alaska Fellow working with the Sitka Conservation Society and USDA Forest Service, and her class taught how to create and feed a sourdough starter, as well as how to bake sourdough bread using a variety of bread flours. She also explained why she named her sourdough starter Xavier and why others should give their starters a name. Students were able to take home a small bit of Xavier so they could build their own sourdough starters, and they each took home a ball of bread dough to proof overnight and bake the next day.

The next class in the Winter Baking Series is Bagels With Robin Sherman, which takes place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the Sitka Kitch (note the earlier starting time than our usual evening classes). This class costs $40 ($30 for Sitka Food Co-op members who are current on their dues), and the registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25. More classes in the series will be announced as their information is finalized.

A slideshow of scenes from the sourdough bread class is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to host Winter Baking Series: Bagels With Robin Sherman class on Jan. 28

Learn how to make bagels in the second class of the new Winter Baking Series at the Sitka Kitch. The Bagels With Robin Sherman class takes place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the Sitka Kitch community commercial kitchen. Please note this is an earlier starting time than our usual night classes, since bagels can take three hours to make.

Robin Sherman grew up in New York City and started baking as a kid. She is enthusiastically pro-gluten and enjoys exploring new bakeries whenever she travels. Warning: she has strong opinions about appropriate flavors and ingredients for bagels. Fruit does not even belong in the same sentence with this authentically chewy, round, boiled New York bread specialty.

The registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25. Space is limited, so register early to secure your place in the class. We need at least eight students to register and pre-pay to make this class happen. The class costs $40, which is part of our new all-inclusive fee system (you no longer have to pay a class fee to register, then a separate food/supply fee). You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on our EventSmart page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Chandler O’Connell or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment.

Current (paid) members of the Sitka Food Co-op are now able to attend the classes for $30 each (the co-op will cover the other $10 of your class fee). Please use the Sitka Food Co-Op ticket when you register and send an email to sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com letting them know you’re in the class.

For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we have enough students registered to make the class happen. Contact Chandler at SCS for more details about the scholarship. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Also, the registration deadline for the first class  in the Winter Baking Series, Sourdough Bread With Carolyn Rice, is 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11. The sourdough bread class takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Sitka Kitch. Details on other classes in the series will be posted as they become available.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by the old Bev’s Flowers and Gifts location). The door on the right should be open for students to enter. Please do not park in the church’s back parking lot. Please use the public parking lots off Harbor Drive.

The Sitka Kitch also has a new class cancelation policy. If you register for a class, then find out you can’t attend, please email us at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org and we may be able to help fill your slot through our waiting list. If you cancel from the class at least five days in advance (eg, by Wednesday the week before for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.