Alaska Culinary Schools & Institutes
Alaska is one of the last untamed places in the country. It is home to wild salmon, summer nights that seem to last forever, harsh winters, wide open spaces and abundant wildlife. Students considering heading to culinary school in Alaska will surely become familiar with the fresh salmon and other fish native to these northern waters. After all, more fish are caught in Alaska than in any other state, according to data from the Resource Development Council. Alaska, the very last frontier in the country, and it might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of culinary school. But just like all states, Alaska has some large cities with plenty of restaurants and opportunities for those seeking a career in the culinary industry. In fact, according to data from the National Restaurant Association, 27,700 Alaskans worked in the restaurant industry in 2013, which accounts for 8% of jobs in the state.
Famous Alaskan food and restaurants
Alaska may not be known for its fancy high-end restaurants or famous chefs, but it does have the basic elements that really matter to a good culinary scene: solid cooking with fresh ingredients, minus the fuss, the pretension, and the fusion craze. And there are definitely a few outstanding restaurants in Alaska.
The nation's least-populated state boasts a total of 1,332 eating and drinking places, which generated $1.3 billion in sales in 2013, according to data from the National Restaurant Association. Not surprisingly, the state's largest city Anchorage is home to most restaurants in the state, which feature mostly American and traditional Alaskan cooking with some ethnic restaurants to round out the offerings, such as Hawaiian, Mexican, Himalayan, Cajun and yes, German. Some popular Anchorage-based restaurants include:
- Kincaid Grill: This New-American restaurant focuses on fresh seafood and regional specialties, including a variety of wild game native to the area.
- Chena's Alaskan Grill: Located right on the river it was named for, and Chena's boasts spectacular outdoor seating in the summer months and a variety of traditional Alaskan dishes with an international touch.
Culinary students in Alaska will also get to know traditional Alaskan food. And this is one part of the country that still has very distinctive cuisine (reindeer, anyone?). Alaskan cuisine revolves around one of its most abundant natural resources: cold-water seafood. Salmon is frequently served in all shapes and forms, including grilled and smoked, and there's even sweetened Indian salmon candy. As the name implies, Alaskan king crabs are huge, and one is oftentimes enough to satisfy a whole family. The game that is oftentimes served in Alaska includes elk, caribou and moose. These meats are usually low in fat and readily available, especially for residents of remote areas.
Beer is also pretty serious business in Alaska, as evidenced by the annual Great Alaska Beer & Barley Festival, which is held in Anchorage in January and features beers from the Northwest, with a special focus on state-produced beers. And finally, akutaq, also known as Eskimo ice cream, isn't ice cream at all. This true Alaskan state specialty goes back centuries, and it consists of a variety of fats (reindeer, seal or bears) mixed together with wild native berries, which are widely available, and snow. The more modern version is made with Crisco and mixed with berries, vegetables, or dried meat. Students at culinary arts schools in Alaska might enjoy learning to prepare these traditional dishes -- and sampling them, too!
Alaska culinary arts schools & career outlook
Now, for some good job outlook news: the projected growth rates for many professions that usually require a culinary arts degree in Alaska are quite good. Here's an overview of statewide employment, salary and job growth data as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Occupation||Total Employment in Alaska (2014)||Average Salary in Alaska (2014)||% Job Growth in Alaska (2012-2022)|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||350||$45,870||13.5%|
|Food Service Managers||310||$54,510||14.2%|
|Butchers and meat cutters||270||$41,700||20.7%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
These food service jobs have excellent growth potential when compared to the 11% growth of all jobs nationwide in the same decade. And in terms of opportunities, culinary arts professionals might consider Alaska's largest city:
|Location||Occupations||Total Employed (2014)||Average Salary (2014)|
|Butchers and meat cutters||150||$40,700|
|Food Service Managers||200||$57,170|
Students considering heading to one of the culinary schools in Alaska should research the schools to make sure they find the right fit. We know it can be overwhelming, but to make it a bit easier we've listed some handy links below.
- Alaska: Restaurant Industry at a Glance, National Restaurant Association, https://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/alaska
- Alaska's Fishing Industry, Resource Development Council for Alaska, http://www.akrdc.org/issues/fisheries/overview.html
- Mountain View revitalization continues with another new restaurant, KTVA Alaska, October 29, 2014, http://www.ktva.com/mountain-view-revitalization-continues-with-new-restaurant-708/
- Akutaq Recipe, http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/npe/culturalatlases/virtualmuseum/writings/native%20food/098d22f2-9971-4588-9a87-680b4fe88955.html
- Chena's Alaskan Grill, http://www.riversedge.net/fairbanks-restaurants/
- Great Alaska Beer and Barley Festival, http://auroraproductions.net/beer-barley.html
- Kincaid Grill, http://www.kincaidgrill.com/
- May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Anchorage, AK, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_11260.htm
- May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Alaska, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm