SEATTLE — On a sunny Tuesday morning in the Emerald City, Alaska Airlines delivered the year’s first Wild Copper River Salmon and hosted its seventh annual Copper Chef Cook-off.

More than 20,000 pounds of Wild Copper River Salmon made its way down from Cordova to Seattle on Alaska Airlines Flight 9230, flown on the carrier’s Boeing 737-400 Combi. The flight departed just after 03:00 and arrived into Seattle at 07:00 local.

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In total, Alaska Airlines had three scheduled flights for Tuesday to bring down approximately 60,000 additional pounds following the opening day for Copper River Salmon fishing season in Alaska. Alaska Air Cargo said it expected 80,000 total pounds of Copper River Salmon to make its way to Seattle on Tuesday alone.

Captain Jeff Latta and First Officer Melissa Van Dyke emerged from aircraft hosting up the season’s first Copper River Salmon. (Credits: Author)
Captain Jeff Latta and First Officer Melissa Van Dyke emerged from the aircraft, hosting up the season’s first Copper River Salmon. (Credits: Author)

“Employees work round the clock to ensure Alaska Air Cargo can deliver the first catch of the coveted wild Copper River salmon from the state of Alaska to Seattle and on to points across the country within 24 hours of being caught,” said Jason Berry, Alaska Air Cargo managing director. “As the salmon season gets into full swing, our team is standing by to transport fresh Alaska salmon to restaurants and consumers throughout the US.”

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After the plane pulled into the gate and parked, Alaska Airlines Captain Jeff Latta and First Officer Melissa Van Dyke emerged from the aircraft, hosting up the season’s first fish, which was a 40-pound king salmon donated by Copper River Seafoods for the Cook-off.

Alaska Airlines Seventh Annual Copper River Salmon Cook-off

Three chefs faced off in Alaska Airlines’ seventh annual cook-off, including defending champion Ethan Stowell, who is the executive chef and owner of Travolta, Anchovies & Olive. He was facing off against John Howie, executive chef and owner of Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar & John Howie Steakhouse, along with chef Sam Burkhart. The chefs were given 30 minutes to prepare their best salmon dishes for the four celebrity judges to select the best dish from.

This year’s judges included Seattle Seahawks wide-receiver Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer Jay Buhner, Alaska Airlines flight attendant and winner of ABC’s “The Bachelor” Lauren Bushnell and Mike “Totality” Kentrianakis who was the astronomer and creator of the viral Solar Eclipse video, taken in March on an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Honolulu.

Let the cook-off commence! (Credits: Author)
Let the cook-off commence! (Credits: Author)

The aroma during the cook-off was overwhelming good, and managed to overpower the Jet-A1 smell. The chefs also made additional samples for media and other observers, who were on hand to try and to enjoy a tasty salmon that literally melted in their mouths.

Ethan Stowell collects his trophy for his team. (Credits: Author)
Ethan Stowell collects his trophy for his team. (Credits: Author)

After the three dishes were tasted by the judges, they got together and selected Ethan Stowell as the winner, thus defending his title with a delicious and special-effect filled smoked salmon.