The busiest week of my year is when my job annually brings up food writers for 5 days to experience the Copper River Salmon fishery. This year we decided to do things a little differently; we aligned the tour with the Copper River Wild Salmon Festival and took over the planning for the Taste of Cordova. The Taste of Cordova kicks off the weekend festival on Thursday night. It usually includes a display of local dishes, a salmon dinner, filet demonstration, and music.
We didn’t want to change any of the fundamental elements of the event, just wanted to crank it up a notch. The venue, Orca Adventure Lodge is a retired cannery (one of the first in Cordova) turned resort. Resort, in the rural Alaskan sense of the word means you won’t find infinity pools or margaritas, but you will find instead a historical setting to use as a home base for many outdoors activities including fishing and heli-skiing. You’ll also find an AWESOME place to hold an event. Not only is there natural beauty all around (hard not to find that in Cordova), Orca has a lot of room to create a campus event. We had dinner in the cook house, music and dancing outside, the filet demonstration took place on the heli-pad, and the cook-off occupied it’s own space for the first time in the neighboring building.
Months of work went into the facilitating and decorating of the event. Thank god for Pinterest! Check out the pinterest board we made to help with planning. Beginning with a peacock color theme, we wanted it to be elegant with a nautical feeling. Nautical being the feeling instead of the theme. I think it turned out splendidly! I wouldn’t change a thing! The kitchen staff enjoyed it so much they requested we leave up the lanterns and tissue paper pom poms, one less thing to clean up that evening!
The night began with fabulous appetizers. In my opinion the best was the deviled eggs, salty and delicious. I definitely had more than my fair share. Plate Magazine (the editor, Chandra Ram was our guest that week) featured two of the other appetizers in their Bite of the Week column, the halibut bites and the crispy salmon skins. The appetizers and the filet demonstration occupied people while the cook-off was set-up and judged.
It was hard to keep everyone away from the entries, but we managed to get the judges in before the doors were broken down by the enthusiastic Cordovans. The judges this year were the food writers we brought up to check out Cordova. From left to right: Daniel Klein from Perennial Plate, Chandra Ram with Plate Magazine, Ivy Manning of Farm to Table Cookbook, Hank Shaw from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and Kate Parham a freelance writer. They seemed to enjoy the judging portion of the evening as much as the rest of Cordova enjoyed finally digging into the entries.
Then it was dinner time. It’s always hard when you’re planning and running an event, everything seems so chaotic and stressed. I was glad to hear those emotions were only seen by the coordinators, Beth, Erica and I. Everyone else I talked to said the evening flowed easily and a good time was had by all. Excellent! Just what we were going for!
Copper River Salmon was of course the highlight of the dinner. Chef Jeremy Storm outdid himself. The plates looked so great on the elegantly decorated tables. In the end, it was a highly successful event. Congrats Erica and Beth! Can’t wait to plan and execute more shin-digs with you!