Brittany Dumag, Tamara Kyle, Abigail Ward win prizes in Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest

Brittany Dumag leans out one of the windows of her food trailer business, called Castaway, that will serve Cuban pork sandwiches with beans and rice.

One winner is opening a food cart so she can sell Alaska-raised pork sandwiches. Another will use her prize to jump start her sauerkraut business. And another is making seasoning mixes to sell at the Sitka Farmers Market and outside Harrigan Centennial Hall this summer.

Tamara Kyle of Sitka Sauers poses with some of her sauerkraut and her two children at a 2017 Sitka Farmers Market.

This year’s winners of the second annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest are Brittany Dumag and her food cart, Castaway, in the start-up business category (younger than two years); Tamara Kyle of Sitka Sauers in the established business division; and Abigail Ward, age 12, who won a special youth business award. The Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest awarded a $1,500 prize each to Dumag and Kyle, while Ward won $250.

The contest is sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network as a way to encourage Sitka entrepreneurs to start businesses using food from Sitka or Alaska. It also is meant to promote better food security with more locally made food products.

“We were pleased with the response this year, five times as many applications as last year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “We hope our prizes help these businesses grow and become successful and sustainable. We also want to see our other entrants come back for next year’s contest. And we hope all of our entrants have booths at this year’s Sitka Farmers Market.”

Dumag’s food cart is her first business venture, but others in her family have run businesses. Dumag, her husband, and others started with a bare trailer, and built it from a 4×8-foot flat trailer to a 6×12-foot trailer with walls, a kitchen, a skylight, and more. She plans to be at all of the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, and she is talking with a couple of places in town to park the trailer, which she hopes to open on June 1.

Even though she has yet to open, Dumag has had to change her plans. She originally planned to make rockfish tacos, but the cost was too high and she had difficulty finding rockfish. So she decided to start with Cuban pork sandwiches with rice and beans (the pork is from Dream Acres Farm in North Pole), and hopes to add the rockfish tacos after she has her business up and running.

“I want to feed local families,” Dumag said. “I want to source what I can locally.”

Tamara Kyle has been making sauerkraut for several years, but with two toddlers she hasn’t been able to make it on a consistent basis. Her sauerkraut takes five weeks to ferment, so she has to be thinking ahead about her plans when she makes it.

“This is going to jump-start it,” Kyle said. “I’m going to get the right machinery and get an apprentice, so my sauerkraut will be more consistently available.”

Abigail Ward sells cupcakes and herbs at her youth booth at a 2018 Sitka Farmers Market.

Kyle makes two types of sauerkraut — her classic with organic cabbage and pink Himalayan sea salt and another with caraway dill seasonings. Eventually, she’d like to add local beets, local carrots, and even local salt, if the price is right.

Ward has been a regular youth vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market for the past two years, selling a variety of products while her parents and sister ran a table next to her. Her business will be to make two seasoning mixes — one for red meat/venison and one for seafood — which she plans to sell at the farmers market and with the youth vendor tables in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall when cruise ships are in town.

“The contest prize money will help to improve and expand my business from a hobby to an official business,” Ward wrote on her entry form.

Ward, who splits time between Washington state and Sitka, was the only entrant to include product samples with her entry form. She said her spice mixes are meant to enhance locally harvested seafood and venison, and she hopes to eventually make her own sea salt and grow her own rosemary for the mixes.

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Scenes from the Sitka Kitch’s fourth Preserving the Harvest class — Simple Chutneys and Salsas

JillScheidtAndAnnetteBlankenshipStirPotsWhileLisaSadleirHartWatches

kitch_logo_mainStudents learned how to make pa variety of chutneys and salsas during the fourth Preserving the Harvest series class of the summer on Monday, Aug. 29, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The chutneys and salsas class was taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, with assistance from Betsy Decker. It is one of six classes in the Preserving the Harvest class series, which will teach people how to safely preserve the summer’s bounty so it can be eaten in the summer.

Other classes in the series will include simple pickles and sauerkraut, low-sugar jams and jellies, canning salmon, chutneys and salsas, apple and fruit butters, and a community kale celebration. More details can be found at this link.

The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch.

RhubarbJalapenoChutneyOnStoveThe next class in the series will be apple and fruit butters, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12, at the Sitka Kitch. To register for classes, go to our online registration page at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ and click on the class name.

We now have a PayPal option so people can pay the registration fees before the class. There are food/supply fees for most of the classes, which are split between the students, and those are paid by cash or check (made out to the Sitka Conservation Society) at the class. Other than for the Kale Celebration event, each class has a limited number of spots available, so register early. Registration for each class closes at 11:55 p.m. on the Friday before the class.

If you have any questions about the class series, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org. A slideshow of images from the chutneys and salsas class is posted below.

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Scenes from the Sitka Kitch’s first Preserving the Harvest class — Simple Pickles and Sauerkraut

LisaSadleirHartDiscussesProperHeadSpace

kitch_logo_mainStudents learned how to make pickles from squash and small-batch sauerkraut at the first Preserving the Harvest series class of the summer on Monday, July 18, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Simple Pickles and Sauerkraut class was taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, with assistance from Jasmine Shaw. It is one of six classes in the Preserving the Harvest class series, which will teach people how to safely preserve the summer’s bounty so it can be eaten in the summer.

Other classes in the series will include low-sugar jams and jellies, canning salmon, chutneys and salsas, apple and fruit butters, and a community kale celebration. More details can be found at this link.

JarsPackedWithSquashThe Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch.

To register for classes, go to our online registration page at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ and click on the class name. We now have a PayPal option so people can pay the registration fees before the class. There are food/supply fees for most of the classes, which are split between the students, and those are paid by cash or check (made out to the Sitka Conservation Society) at the class. Other than for the Kale Celebration event, each class has a limited number of spots available, so register early. Registration for each class closes at 11:55 p.m. on the Friday before the class.

If you have any questions about the class series, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org. A slideshow of images from the simple pickles and sauerkraut class is posted below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sitka Kitch to offer Preserving the Harvest class series this summer

 

PreservingTheHarvestFlier

kitch_logo_mainYou grew it, harvested it and/or caught it, so now what do you do? The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen will be offering the Preserving the Harvest class series to teach Sitkans how to store the summer’s bounty so they can use it during the winter.

This class series features six classes covering a variety of food preservation methods. Students will learn how to safely preserve their food, so it won’t spoil or cause illness. The classes on schedule are:

  • Simple Pickles and Sauerkraut 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, July 18, taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and assisted by Jasmine Shaw, $20, plus food/supply fee
  • Low-Sugar Jams and Jellies 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 1, taught by Jasmine Shaw and assisted by Callie Simmons, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Canning Salmon6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22, taught by Ellen Ruhle and assisted by Jasmine Shaw, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Chutneys and Salsas6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 29, taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and assisted by Betsy Decker, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Apple and Fruit Butters6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 12, taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and assisted by Betsy Decker, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Community Kale Celebration6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 26, Cooking demonstrations featuring kale recipes by chefs Kathy Jones and Barbara Palacios (not a class), entrance fee $10.

The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch.

To register for classes, go to our online registration page at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ and click on the class name. We now have a PayPal option so people can pay the registration fees before the class. There are food/supply fees for most of the classes, which are split between the students, and those are paid by cash or check (made out to the Sitka Conservation Society) at the class. Other than for the Kale Celebration event, each class has a limited number of spots available, so register early. Registration for each class closes at 11:55 p.m. on the Friday before the class.

If you have any questions about the class series, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

Sitka Kitch to offer Preserving the Harvest: Pickles and Sauerkraut class

Sauerkraut

kitch_logo_mainWant to learn how to make a simple pickle using a vinegar brine? What about the art of fermentation, and making homemade sauerkraut filled with probiotics to go with reindeer dogs and sausages?

Lisa Sadleir-Hart, RDN, MPH will teach Simple Pickles and Sauerkraut at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 18, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, located at First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road). This is part of a new Preserving the Harvest series of classes that will be held throughout the summer. The other classes in the series will be announced once details are finalized.

jar-pickles-prepared-salt-vinegar-glass-35566465The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch.

The class cost is $20, plus a food and supply fee that will be divided among the number of registered students. Registration is capped at 10 students, so sign up early to secure your space in this first food preservation class of the season. Registration closes at 10:55 p.m. on Friday, July 15.

You will use our online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/, to sign up for the class, but you’ll pay by cash or check (made out to Sitka Conservation Society) at the beginning of the class. To avoid a no-show fee, we ask for 48-hour notice if you can’t attend the class.

If you have any questions, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

• Meet your vendors: Allison Sayer of Hearts and Flowers

TODAllisonSayerHeartsAndFlowers

Allison Sayer of Hearts and Flowers (with certificate) won the Table of the Day Award at this summer’s second Sitka Farmers Market on July 12.

SitkaFarmersMarketSign(This is part of a new series of “Meet your vendors” articles, where Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel is writing features about our regular Sitka Farmers Market vendors.) 

Have you been smelling something funny at this summer’s farmer’s markets? Maybe something a bit sour and overdue? Local resident Allison Sayer has been producing and selling her own live-fermented creations to curious consumers at the market, as well as experienced fermenters.

Born and raised in New York City, Allison Sayer graduated high school there and went straight into AmeriCorps on the West Coast. Later, she studied biology at Smith College, and then went to graduate school at the University of Alaska Anchorage pursuing the same track. She was attracted to the major, because she is passionate about landscape ecology, as well as salmon’s relationship with nature. However, she soon realized that the career (where much of her time would have been spent in a lab) was not quite as fun as the ideas behind it.

AllisonSayerTalksToCustomerSayer then pursued other opportunities that aligned closer with what she really connected with. She worked in Homer, at the Center for Alaskan Studies, and then at many different cooperatives in Santa Cruz, Calif., including a bike co-op, homeless gardener project, and a chicken sanctuary. Then she returned to Alaska, and worked in McCarthy at the Wrangell Mountains Center as a kitchen manager for three years. There she worked in the garden, held workshops, and served meals to participants. Sayer and the facility manager Jim experimented with varying fermented products. There in the Wrangell kitchen, Sayer discovered her passion for live-fermented foods.

At the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 9, you may have noticed the fermentation demonstration booth run by Sitka Local Foods Network intern McLane Ritzel. Live fermentation is an ancient practice, but more recently, it has gained a huge following around the world of interested individuals who want to produce their own food following traditional methods. The practice is communal and artisanal, and when consumed, encourages a healthy gut.

AllisonSayerKittySopowIn Sitka, this will be her third year working at Mount Edgecumbe High School, running extracurricular activities after school for the students. She loves her job, and says, “High school students are just so cute!” This summer, she has been working at the Baranof Island Brewing Company brewery.

At home, Sayer spends her time fermenting with produce from her own garden, playing the guitar, reading “too many books at once,” and hiking with her 4-year-old Karellian bear dog, a husky named Tulip.

Come out to this summer’s last Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at ANB Hall to pick up some of Allison Sayer’s creatively edgy and uniquely delicious homemade Alaskan kimchi, sauerkraut made with varied ingredients, and kombucha, a fermented tea.

• Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel to host fermentation demo at Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market

FermentationDemo

At this Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market, Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel will host a live fermentation booth where she will give out samples of locally made sauerkraut and information on how to ferment at home.

Fermentation is an ancient process where microorganisms in our food extend their usefulness and enhance flavor. Fermentation is used in a wide variety of food from around the world, including the yeast that helps make bread, wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, coffee, soy sauce, and more. Sandor Katz, who wrote The Art of Fermentation, calls it “the flavorful space between fresh and rotten.”

Another advantage to fermentation is it can extend the shelf life of many foods. “It’s not forever, like canned foods that you can put into a pantry or storm cellar and forget about for 10 years and still eat it,” Katz said. “These foods are alive, they’re dynamic, but they’re extremely effective strategies for preserving food through a few seasons, which is really the point.”

Recently, one of the big discussions about fermentation is how it can help replenish healthy gut bacteria, especially when items are fermented by lactic acid bacteria. These helpful probiotics are essential in an age where so many of our foods include chlorine in the water, antibiotic drugs, antibacterial cleaning products, and other sanitizing methods that kill healthy bacteria with the bad.

In addition to learning how simple it is to make sauerkraut, visitors to the booth will be able to learn about and taste kombucha. Bring a small jar to the market so you can take a kombucha starter home with you.  This week’s Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the market.