Alaska Collection

Almost a decade ago, the beauty and adventure of the last frontier turned a short sojourn into a permanent stay for Chef Wes Choy. We had the opportunity to speak with Chef Choy to learn about his commitment to community, collaboration and culinary innovation in Alaska.

What does it mean to be a Director of Food and Beverage at Pursuit?

I like to think of myself as kind of a guide. We are really trying to not only be a company that's bringing these amazing, iconic, memorable experiences to folks with our hotels and operations and attractions, we also want to be a place that's known for our food and beverage. We want each restaurant and each food and beverage outlet we own to be unique. We want them to have a real unique identity. All our directors throughout Pursuit are well rounded and well versed in a multitude of cuisines, so we can assist in each journey.

Chef Wes Choy posing in a kitchen holding a dish.

What is your culinary philosophy?

I think I can only describe myself as being adventurous but approachable, with an Alaskan, Pacific Northwestern flair.

How does your philosophy influence your menu creations, flavor profiles and those creative aspects?

It influences every menu item, and ultimately, the overall creation of that menu. For example, good friends of mine have an oyster farm and they also catch kelp. So, we get the kelp, dehydrate it and make an Alaskan kelp chili crisp. Up here in Alaska, the black cod is amazing, I use my culinary philosophy to create an amazing Cantonese Alaskan black cod dish — but in Alaska, we serve a lot of reindeer, so we use a reindeer consommé with that.

Does your philosophy affect the overall experience of your guests?

Yeah, absolutely. There's lots of Michelin star chefs out there really pushing the envelope, but for me and what we do at Pursuit, I don't want to alienate anyone. I want them to have an experience, but I don't want to scare them away.

A group of friends dine inside a wooden cabin.

What are some of the key benefits to sourcing your ingredients locally?

When we talk about local, we always have the advantage of freshness, never more so for Alaska because of our short growing season and location. What's happening now is so exciting because there are more farmers popping up and more land dedicated to growing local products. The money spent is staying in the state with the local farmers and growers to enable them to continue to innovate and grow the group of businesses and community members that are providing local food. Also, for our guests to be able to not just come to Alaska but to taste Alaska. The other thing is safety. Being able to source locally, we have more control, more knowledge of where that food comes from, who produces that food and in turn we get to share that story with everyone.

Two dishes being served at a restaurant in close up.

Can you give me an example of one of your innovative collaborations?

In Talkeetna, there’s a lovely farming couple who got into growing microgreens a few years ago who approached me. I tried the microgreens at a local farmers market and I thought, ‘This is amazing, we need to find a way to feature these in our menus if that's possible.’ We talked for a long time as to how they could help us and how we could help them and we ended up putting a greenhouse on the property at Talkeetna, and they helped us curate our own microgreen program in that greenhouse. So, all our guests get to see our chef go out there everyday, trimming microgreens for service.

Do you have any dishes from Alaska or that are indigenous to Alaska?

There's definitely exploration and discussions on what native Alaska dishes are and I think we do use a lot of the ingredients. In terms of culinary technique, those are things worth exploring. What really is at the forefront of a lot of modern cuisine is trying to take a look at what was native and traditional to the areas that we operate and ask how we bring that into the restaurant. And now, the next step in that process of being adventurous is to bring some of those techniques back and see how we can utilize those today.

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