Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 6:50 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Anchorage restaurant battles Seattle for first fish of season



By Rachel D'oro
The Associated Press


 

Michael Dinnene

Chef Al Levinsohn gets a sniff of one of the the season's first Copper River King Salmon Friday, May 18, 2012 at his Anchorage, Alaska restaurant. The 30-pound king, along with a seven-pound sockeye were flown from the fishing grounds of Cordova, Alaska where they were caught the night before. "When you can't smell anything, you know it's fresh", Levinsohn said. AP Photo / Michael Dinneen

ANCHORAGE — An Anchorage seafood restaurant heralded its grand opening Friday by mimicking Alaska Airlines' splashy salmon show in Seattle.

The Seattle-based airline makes a big production each year of delivering the first-of-the-season Copper River king salmon from Alaska to Seattle for preparation by top chefs, who got their celebrated bounty earlier Friday.

Hours later, an Anchorage-based seafood processor delivered a 30-pound king and a seven-pound sockeye salmon with much fanfare to The Bridge Seafood Restaurant, which was set for its grand opening later in the day.

"The Copper River's first king of the year," proclaimed delivery van driver Billy Green, vice president of production for Copper River Seafoods, as he presented a large box before restaurant owners Patrick Hoogerhyde and Al Levinson, who are both chefs.

Out came the prized catch from the shaved ice as cameras clicked all around in front of the downtown area restaurant, which sits on an old bridge over an urban salmon stream.

Hoogerhyde held the king up.

"Gorgeous," he said. "Gorgeous, my friend."

The flashy delivery was a re-enactment of sorts of the famous king toss at Pike's Market in Seattle.

Hoogerhyde was quick to admit feeling a bit of rivalry with Seattle for first fish.

"The thing is, it's our fish, OK?" he said as he waited for the salmon to arrive. "I'm an Alaskan. That's the way it is. And for Seattle to get the first one, yeah, that's a little pinch now and then."

After bringing the salmon inside the restaurant, Hoogerhyde said the fish would be cut up into nice steaks and fillets.

Hoogerhyde then asked if anyone knew if the fish had first reached Seattle. Someone said yes.

"Oh, those (bleeps)!" he said.

Even as chefs compete for first fish, wild salmon lovers everywhere will be heartened to know the Copper River fishing season opened late Thursday near Cordova.

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