ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A pop-up dining experience is coming to Anchorage, but it's not just about bringing people together at the table.
During the first week of December, Celebrity Chef Aarón Sánchez is making a pit stop in the state’s largest city to host two nights of dinners and demos at South Restaurant.
Sánchez is recognizable from his time on the Food Network’s Chopped and Chopped Junior. He has also authored two cookbooks.
Traditionally, the chef is known for his Mexican cuisine, but he's going to be combining flavors and plating up local staples.
“We’re going to utilize Alaskan ingredients by way of game. We’ll probably try to use some caribou or some elk. We’ll use some local fish and really try to integrate those ingredients into our menu and I think that’s the only way to do it well,” Sánchez said in a phone interview with KTUU Thursday.
Proceeds from the night will benefit the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, which allows honorees to attend a 10-month course at the International Culinary Center in New York City and once completed, begin a paid internship in New Orleans, where the chef's restaurant is based.
Sánchez says mentoring is one of the biggest gifts he can give to aspiring chefs. “The idea being that they’re mentored by myself and other chefs and peers and friends of mine so they can start to form their own culinary identity.”
Sánchez, along with Charity Blanchett, who grew up in Alaska and is developing the Dipping Spoon Foundation, say Anchorage’s food scene is a great place for young chefs to kick off a career.
“I think it’s a really emerging food scene. I think everybody there is interested in food and it’s a matter of being able to source local ingredients and make it something that needs to be improved a little bit,” Sánchez said, “it’s challenging to get ingredients up there at times because of the weather and how far you guys are but I think it’s on its way to becoming a powerhouse culinary city.”
“If we’re going to continue to build the emerging culinary scene in Anchorage it needs to be infused with culture because that’s at the heart and helm of who we are as a state especially with Alaska Native people,” Blanchett said.
“We live off the land, we’ve lived off the land for years. We hunt, we fish we gather and I think culture should be at the forefront of what we’re doing and also what the restaurant scene in Alaska is doing as well, we should have culture at its heart.”
While in Anchorage, Sánchez is scheduled to appear at the Anchorage Museum on Monday December 3. While the first two dinners have sold out, a third event has been added for December 4. Tickets will go on sale next Wednesday, November 14 at 2:00pm.