Sitka chef Colette Nelson to represent Alaska in Great American Seafood Cook-Off

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Ludvig’s Bistro owner and executive chef Colette Nelson garnishes rabbit thighs with beach asparagus for a special local foods dinner she prepared as a February 2015 fundraiser for The Sawmill Farm.

Next week, Sitka chef Colette Nelson will carry a special cargo in a violin case when she heads to New Orleans to represent Alaska in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off.

Nelson, the owner and executive chef of Ludvig’s Bistro, will be carrying a frozen white king salmon in her violin case, the fish she plans to cook for the annual contest. The white king salmon was caught July 4 by troller Lou Barr of Auke Bay (who Nelson used to commercial fish with) and flash-frozen earlier this month. Nelson doesn’t plan to let the fish out of her control as she travels to New Orleans.

“I’m going to hold that fish with me. I’m not going to let somebody put it under the plane because that’s our gold,” Nelson told the Juneau Empire in a July 25 article.

On Aug. 6, Nelson will compete against chefs from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. The Great American Seafood Cook-Off is sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, and focuses on domestic, sustainable seafood and local ingredients.

Nelson, who will compete with her sous chef Josh Miller, hopes to become the second straight Alaska chef to win the Best Seafood Chef title, joining Beau Schooler and Travis Hotch of The Rookery Café in Juneau who won last year with a sockeye salmon dish. Nelson was nominated for this year’s contest by Gov. Bill Walker.

Nelson hasn’t said exactly how she plans to cook her white king salmon, but did hint that it will have a Spanish theme in keeping with her restaurant’s use of Mediterranean flavors.

“For me this experience is not only about representing Alaska, but it’s about what Alaska has given to me,” Nelson told the Empire. “I came here to fish in college so that I could study abroad in Spain. I did that and had a great time fishing. I fished for three seasons, then went to Spain and fell in love with the cuisine and with Mediterranean food as a whole. So to go to this competition 25 years later — after being in both the seafood industry and the restaurant business — it feels complete to go there with Spanish ideas.”

The dish will feature a pan-seared fillet of the fish that includes the belly meat.

“For anybody that knows king salmon, the belly meat is where the best flavor is,” Nelson said. “We like it just perfectly cooked so it just starts to separate, when the flakes come off. You can feel the oil, get it on your lips and really taste it.”

Nelson opened Ludvig’s Bistro in 2002, and has been a big supporter of local foods in Sitka (including using her restaurant to host fundraisers for the Sitka Local Foods Network and developing recipes and lesson plans for Sitka’s Fish To Schools lunch program coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society). She grew up in Oregon and attended the University of Washington, where she trained under Seattle restauranteur Susan Kaufman, who also had a food cart and restaurants in Juneau. She moved to Alaska in 1998, working as chef for Kingfisher Charters & Lodge in Sitka before opening her restaurant.

During the competition, Nelson and sous chef Josh Miller will have an hour to prepare six plates for the judges and one for photos. Nelson and Miller have been practicing, and now feel they’re ready.

“We do this all the time. We cook under pressure,” Nelson said. “When we were practicing (Sunday) I said, ‘Look, we’re just having a dinner party for seven guests and let’s just make it in an hour. We got this.’”

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• Help the Sitka Local Foods Network ‘Fill the Bistro’ on Thursday, March 26

2015SLFNLudvigsBistroEvent The Sitka Local Foods Network will benefit from a “Fill the Bistro” fundraiser on Thursday, March 26, at Ludvig’s Bistro (256 Katlian St.). Fill the Bistro is a series of community fundraisers held on Thursdays this spring for local organizations working in Sitka (in previous years they were on Wednesdays). Ludvig’s Bistro is open from 5-9 p.m. serving traditional Mediterranean fare and seafood. The beneficiary organization for each Thursday’s Fill the Bistro event receives 10 percent of the night’s sales. Due to the small size of Ludvig’s Bistro, it is recommended that diners call 966-FOOD (966-3663) to make reservations. If the restaurant is closed, there is an answering machine to take reservations (please call in and don’t email the restaurant). The Sitka Local Foods Network thanks Ludvig’s Bistro owner/chef Colette Nelson for including us in this year’s series of Fill the Bistro fundraisers.

• Rabbit, goat highlight Sawmill Farm’s farm-to-table dinner at Ludvig’s Bistro

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Locally raised rabbit and goat meat from Ketchikan were the highlights of a fundraising farm-to-table dinner for the Sawmill Farm on Jan. 31 at Ludvig’s Bistro.

In an effort to raise seed money for her Sawmill Farm project, Bobbi Daniels worked with Ludvig’s Bistro owner/chef Colette Nelson to create a five-course meal featuring locally sourced food from Sitka and Southeast Alaska. Tickets were $75 per plate for the function.

Bobbi already is raising rabbits in town, and she said goats also do well in Sitka. Bobbi hopes to find a large enough lot so she can grow enough rabbits to supply local stores with meat. She said rabbit meat is one of the cleanest meats as far as toxins, and it only takes 10 weeks to raise a rabbit to harvest size. The Sawmill Farm was one of 12 semifinalists in the recent Path to Prosperity economic development contest sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, and now is competing for the people’s choice award.

Working with local farmers and gardeners, Bobbi and Colette created five-course meal that featured:

  • rabbit terrine with farm egg, beach asparagus and mustard;
  • leek, heirloom tomato, zucchini and rabbit consommé with sprouted wheat bread;
  • Moroccan goat stew with ginger, preserved lemons, potatoes, dates and almonds, served with white satin carrot salad and balsamic beets;
  • grilled rabbit thigh served with aioli, Inca Bella potato purée and sautéed garlic kale; and
  • Russian pavlova with huckleberry, rhubarb, currants and Sitka rose sugar.

A variety of gardens and farms provided the food used for the meal. The Sawmill Farm supplied the rabbits and wheat berries, Sivertsen Farm in Ketchikan provided the goat, Lori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden supplied winter kale, Sara Taranof provided farm eggs, Linda Walker provided garlic, huckleberries, rhubarb and currants, and Florence Welsh of Forget-Me-Not Garden supplied white satin and orange carrots, heirloom tomatoes, red rose potatoes, Inca Bella potatoes, leeks, zucchini, beets, raspberry preserves and beach asparagus.

Scenes from the meal are in a slideshow below:

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• The Sawmill Farm to host Farm-to-Table Dinner on Jan. 31 at Ludvig’s Bistro

Bobbi Daniels of The Sawmill Farm grooms a rabbit at The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber store on Katlian Street. Bobbi raises some rabbits for their hair (to make yarn) and others for meat.

Bobbi Daniels of The Sawmill Farm grooms a rabbit at The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber store on Katlian Street. Bobbi raises some rabbits for their hair (to make yarn) and others for meat.

Want to see and taste some of the local food possibilities in Sitka? The Sawmill Farm will host a Farm-to-Table Dinner with two seatings (at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) on Saturday, Jan. 31, at Ludvig’s Bistro (256 Katlian St.). Ludvig’s Bistro owner/chef Colette Nelson will be preparing the meals.

“We will be featuring locally grown foods as much as possible,” said Bobbi Daniels, co-owner of The Sawmill Farm. “This will include rabbit, eggs and vegetables, among other things.”

Tickets are $75 each, and seating is limited with only 25 people per session. To make reservations, call Bobbi at 738-4481 or send a message to The Sawmill Farm’s Facebook page.

p2p-bobbi-daniels-560x400The Sawmill Farm is bringing commercial agriculture to Sitka, and supporting Sitkans who are maintaining their own backyard operations. The farm will raise rabbits, chickens, goats, pigs, and more. It also has a feed store. The Sawmill Farm is one of 12 semifinalists for fledgling Southeast Alaska businesses in the Path to Prosperity contest sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and Haa Aaní LLC (the economic development arm of Sealaska). The three winners, which will be announced in late January, will each receive $40,000 to help their businesses grow.

“The Sawmill Farm is working to produce locally and humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free livestock and poultry in Sitka using the cast-off food from the grocery stores and restaurants,” Bobbi said. “Currently the city is paying highest disposal rate that is charged to have this food barged as ‘non-recyclable garbage’ to a landfill in eastern Washington. The bottom line is Sitka pays out a fortune to barge perfect pig food to Washington and then we barge corporate factory farmed pork chops back to Sitka. The Sawmill Farm wants to stop the insanity, keep that food and money local, create jobs and produce healthy meat.

“The Sawmill Farm also will support Sitkans who have their own backyard poultry and livestock. We will be selling feed, hay and straw, along with poultry chicks, and baby and adult rabbits. We have started carrying Scratch and Peck organic poultry and goat feeds, and will shortly be adding hay and straw.”

The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber store opened in August 2014, on Katlian Street, across from the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. A photo slideshow of The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber Store is posted below.

“The feed store is stocked with assorted organic poultry and goat feeds, and straight grains for mixing feeds, to supplement livestock diets or for growing fodder,” Bobbi said. “We also have non-organic rabbit feed, hay and straw, and supplemental products such as poultry grit and diatomaceous earth (DE). We still do not have any set retail hours so, again, message us on Facebook or call 738-4481 and we’ll meet the customer there and get them taken care of.”

• The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber price list from August 2014

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• Kathy Hope Erickson’s salmon/potato patties win top honors in Fish To Schools recipe contest

Members of the panel of judges sample one of the recipes in the Fish To Schools Recipe Contest at the Sitka Seafood Festival on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at the Sheldon Jackson Campus/Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

Members of the panel of judges sample one of the recipes in the Fish To Schools Recipe Contest at the Sitka Seafood Festival on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at the Sheldon Jackson Campus/Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

Recipe Contest FinalKathy Hope Erickson claimed top honors in the Fish To Schools recipe contest during the Sitka Seafood Festival, and two younger chefs tied for second place.

Kathy submitted a recipe for salmon and potato patties, which she served with a special chili ketchup, and won a gift certificate to Ludvig’s Bistro for her efforts. Tying for second place were Zoe Trafton, age 8, with her recipe for salmon mac and cheese, and Ava Newell (with her father Mike), age 8, with her recipe for coconut pecan rockfish with a blueberry dipping sauce. Zoe and Ava both won t-shirts. A panel of nine judges, including a couple of students, rated the recipes.

In all, eight local chefs submitted recipes for the contest, which was hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, which coordinates the Sitka Fish To Schools Program to put more healthy local seafood into school lunches. The other recipes included sesame-veggie salmon cakes with tangy apple slaw by Beth Short-Rhoads and her daughter Kat Rhoads, age 6; salmon pinwheels from Judi Ozment; healthy salmon fish fingers from Anna Bisaro; baked salmon with dill from Matt Jones; and salmon-veggie wraps from Charles Bingham.

The purpose of the contest was to collect kid-friendly fish entree recipes that can be made for school lunches as part of the Fish to Schools program. The dishes should be healthy and easy to make (no special appliances). Baking the fish is preferred over frying, and recipes should be low in sodium and fat. The top seafood dishes will be used in school lunches at the Sitka School District, the state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School, and the private SEER School.

The top three recipes are posted below, and all eight recipes can be found in the attachment. For more information about the recipe contest and the Sitka Fish To Schools Program, click this link or call Sophie Nethercut or Tracy Gagnon of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509.

• 2014 Fish To Schools Recipe Contest Submissions (attachment includes all eight recipes)

School Lunch Salmon Patties With Chili Ketchup (Makes 12)

Winning Recipe submitted by Kathy Hope Erickson, Sitka

  • KathyHopeErickson1 pint jar salmon
  • 2 cups cooked potatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon garlic seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salad herbs – dried
  • 12 Ritz crackers

Mix all, form into patties, fry in heated vegetable oil, or alternatively, spray with cooking spray and bake in 400-degree oven.

Chili Ketchup

For dipping fish patties: Combine 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 4 1/2 teaspoon onion, and 3/4 cup ketchup.

 

Coconut Pecan Rockfish With Blueberry Dipping Sauce

2nd place: Submitted by Mike and Ava Newell (age 8), Sitka

  • MikeAndAvaNewel1 lb. rockfish fillets
  • 1 T coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut
  • 2 T plain breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place rockfish on baking sheet. Pour coconut milk over fish. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Combine pecans, coconut, and bread crumbs in a bowl. Press coconut mixture onto top of fish fillets. Bake for 15-20 minutes, just until fish is opaque throughout

Blueberry Dipping Sauce

  • 1 C wild blueberries, rinsed
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/4 C coconut milk
  • 1/2 T cornstarch
  • salt

Place blueberries and water in small saucepan. Simmer until berries burst. Strain berries through fine mesh sieve into small bowl. Add coconut milk to bowl. Pour sauce back into saucepan. Mix cornstarch with a little bit of cold water until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce. Stir and heat until boiling. Continue to boil until desired thickness. Serve with rockfish

 

Salmon Mac ‘n Cheese
2nd place: Submitted by Zoe Trafton (age 8), Sitka

  • ZoeTrafton1 cup cooked salmon, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar and jack recommended)
  • 2 cups shell pasta
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • ½ cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ cup Alfredo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Boil shells in medium pot. Sauté onions and mushrooms for three minutes. Add salmon to mushrooms and onions. Drain water and add pasta. Add cheese. Add Alfredo sauce and hot sauce. Mix carefully. Add spices and serve.

• Fish to Schools seafood recipe contest seeks kid-friendly dishes at Sitka Seafood Festival

Recipe Contest FinalDo you have a favorite kid-friendly and healthy fish entree recipe that uses local seafood? The program wants you to enter your dish in its recipe contest at the .

Do you have a favorite kid-friendly and healthy fish entree recipe that uses local seafood? The Fish to Schools program wants you to enter your dish in its recipe contest at the Sitka Seafood Festival.

The contest is free, just type up your recipe and email it to Sophie Nethercut of the Sitka Conservation Society at sophie@sitkawild.org. You also will be asked to make up a batch for sampling. A panel of local residents will judge the recipes at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Sitka Seafood Festival’s main tent on the Sheldon Jackson Campus, and the winners receive prizes (including a gift certificate for Ludvig’s Bistro for the grand prize).

2014SSFSchedule5The purpose of the contest is to collect kid-friendly fish entree recipes that can be made for school lunches as part of the Fish to Schools program. The dishes should be healthy and easy to make (no special appliances). Baking the fish is preferred over frying, and recipes should be low in sodium and fat. The top seafood dishes will be used in school lunches at the Sitka School District, the state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School, and the private SEER School.

Samples of the dish (enough for at least 15 people to nibble) should be brought by 4:15 p.m. on Saturday to the Sitka Seafood Festival main tent at Sheldon Jackson Campus for judging. Entrants are encouraged to print out a copy of the recipe to include with your samples, and bring a photo of you making the dish (if possible).

For more information, click this link or call Sophie at 747-7509. This is one of many events as part of this year’s Sitka Seafood Festival, which has events on July 31-Aug. 2 at various locations around Sitka. Additional info about the Sitka Seafood Festival can be found here.

 

• Help the Sitka Local Foods Network ‘Fill the Bistro’ on Wednesday, March 26

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The Sitka Local Foods Network will benefit from a “Fill the Bistro” fundraiser on Wednesday, March 26, at Ludvig’s Bistro (256 Katlian St.).

Fill the Bistro is a series of community fundraisers held on Wednesdays each spring for local organizations working in Sitka. Ludvig’s Bistro is open from 5-9 p.m. serving traditional Mediterranean fare and seafood. The beneficiary organization for each Wednesday’s Fill the Bistro event receives 10 percent of the night’s sales.

Due to the small size of Ludvig’s Bistro, it is recommended that diners call 966-FOOD (966-3663) to make reservations. If the restaurant is closed, there is an answering machine to take reservations (please call in and don’t email the restaurant). Ludvig’s Bistro’s companion restaurant Rio’s is not open on March 26, so is not included in the promotion.

The Sitka Local Foods Network thanks Ludvig’s Bistro owner/chef Colette Nelson for including us in this year’s series of Fill the Bistro fundraisers.