"Will you come to moose camp with us?"

Bob Hallinen

From Casey Grove in Ruby --

The Iditarod leaders moved so fast down the trail, it was a bit of a scramble to get everything in place for the five-course gourmet meal served to the first musher to reach the Yukon River.

That proved to be Jeff King, who arrived  at 6:41 a.m. Thursday. But it wasn’t dinnertime, of course, so it wasn’t until a little after 5 p.m. that Chef Bobby Sidro, with race sponsor Millenium Alaskan Hotel, served up dinner for King and former Iditarod executive director and former Ruby resident Raine Hall.

On the menu, along with wine and champagne pairings:

- Sablefish and blue mussel stew and king crab Cajun bruschetta with cream cheese, chives, shallots, garlic and seasonings

- Baby arugula and smoked spotted shrimp salad with toasted pine nuts, sliced avocado, grated parmesan, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts and champagne vinaigrette dressing

- Peppercorn-crusted filet mignon and fried oysters on a Cabernet sauce, with sockeye salmon lox and caviar potato pancakes, baby carrots and zucchini flowers

- Roasted pear crème brulee tart

As King and Hall finished the filet, they applauded Chef Sidro.

“Where did you go to school?” King asked.

“Nowhere,” Sidro said, adding that he started with Chef Al Levinsohn of the Kincaid Grill in Anchorage.

“Will you come to moose camp with us?” King asked.

Later, Sidro said he’d worked for the Millenium for about 20 years “on and off.” It was his first time in Ruby, said Sidro, who flew to Anvik for the Iditarod last year. Flying in small planes has made him nervous, though, to the point he passes out, Sidro said.

"It's been a great experience,” he said. “The only thing is flying, for me. It's not fun, flying with the little ones."

The TV cameras and onlookers, including his boss, put a little extra pressure on creating an extravagant meal, Sidro said.

“It scares me more than the plane.”