The last month has been incredibly exciting for me. As most of you know, it has always been my goal to obtain the freshest ingredients possible in the most sustainable ways possible. Recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to do this with a truly unique program of which I’m extremely proud.
I’ll start from the beginning. For the past years, I’ve been fishing off the cost of Yakutat Bay with my family. It has become a tradition that I treasure dearly, and the trips give me a chance to catch up with my brother, whom I unfortunately just don’t get to see often enough. We always stay at the Icy Bay Lodge with our friend and owner Todd Robertnson and Devon Fernandez.
During these excursions, I began to build a relationship with a local fishing guide. After getting to know him, I began to really appreciate and respect his attention to sustainability and care for the environment. Each fishing trip was so much more than simply participating in the sport. Each time we would fish with this particular guide, I felt like I was learning so much about the area, the ecosystem, and the entire outlook on salmon as it relates to the Alaskan economy.
After many conversations, we determined that we could work together to build a truly unique program that benefits both of us. The guide agreed to begin fishing for king salmon exclusively for Wild Standard on a regular basis. The salmon is sustainably caught with a hook and line in Yukutat Bay (about 100 miles north of Juneau in the panhandle). The fish are then gilled and gutted in Alaska and placed in cold packs that replicate the temperature of the waters in Yukutat Bay. These packages are overnighted to the restaurant and used in our daily king salmon specials.
The program achieves my goal of bringing the freshest possible products to my guests while taking humane and sustainable sourcing practices to another level. The fish are so incredibly fresh that they’re actually in rigor mortis when the restaurant receives them! This is unheard of in a landlocked state like Colorado. It tastes like the salmon you would eat at a restaurant right off the coast!
The goal is to bring in 150 to 200 pounds of salmon per week. We’re selling out of every shipment, which leads me to believe that our guests can really taste and appreciate the difference. Hearing the words, “This is the best salmon I’ve ever had,” never gets old.
Salmon itself is also so much fun to cook. The fish is extremely versatile, so we’re having fun in the kitchen with it as well. Most recently, we served the salmon crusted with horseradish and celery root, dill, crème fraiche and roasted local turnips or potatoes. Wild Standard’s Executive Chef, Derek Baril has done a fantastic job using seasonal ingredients that really bring out the true flavor of the fish.
On the more difficult side of the program, we’re also learning that our offerings are completely dependent on the success of the fishing guide and Alaskan weather. If there is rough weather in Alaska, the fishing is tough, to say the least. This results in smaller shipments (or lack of shipment) for the restaurant. For those of you that plan to come try the salmon, I’d always recommend calling ahead first to ensure that we have received a recent shipment and haven’t sold out.
Overall, I’m thrilled to share this incredibly fresh salmon with the Boulder and Denver communities. My hope is to bring a taste of Alaska to the heart of Boulder in a way that doesn’t compromise flavor or sustainability. I sincerely hope you find time to check it out.