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Market Fresh: Chef at Market program helps with Alaska-grown meals

Steve Edwards

Not sure what to do with arugula? How about some kohlrabi? Or maybe you’re looking for a new spin on sockeye salmon?

The local farmers markets are full of fabulous Alaska foods. And the Chef at the Market program sponsored by the Alaska Division of Agriculture can help you put together the perfect meal.

Chef at the Market has been around since 2011 and has evolved over time. On trips to various markets this year, you can see chefs take items available at the market that week and turn them into something delicious.

“The program began as a way to try and introduce restaurant chefs to local producers but it became so much more,” says Jacquelyn Schade, program assistant with the Division of Agriculture. “In chefs’ final reports, it has been stated multiple times that market attendees who saw the demonstrations will go back to the producers where the chef bought the specialty crop and buy all the farmer’s specialty crop that was featured. People want to cook with Alaska grown, but sometimes they just don’t know how. These demonstrations give people the skills and confidence to cook with specialty crops, such as kale or kohlrabi.

“Market goers can expect to view a cooking demonstration that features an Alaska grown specialty crop. The recipes are created by the chefs and are meant to be easily replicated at home.”

This year, six chefs are performing 39 cooking demonstrations this summer in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Glennallen, Soldotna and Homer.

Here is the upcoming schedule: South Anchorage Wednesday Market (Wednesday); South Anchorage Farmers Market (Aug. 16 and 30, and Sept. 13 and 27); Anchorage Farmers Market (Saturday and July 26, and Sept. 6 and 20); the Spenard Farmers Market (Aug. 30 and Sept. 13); the Homer Farmers Market (Aug. 16 and 30, and Sept. 6 and 20); the Central Kenai Peninsula Farmers Market (Aug. and 16). The program also will provide chef cooking demonstrations at the Glennallen Wednesday Market, the Tanana Valley Farmers Market and the Downtown Market in Fairbanks.

Center Market

Look for the regular vendors at the market inside the Mall at Sears.

A.D. Farm will have a wide variety of lettuces, kale, beet greens, potatoes, fresh eggs, pork products and barley items. Duane Clark’s Country Health Foods will have Alaska grass-fed beef, Alaska Sprouts items, jams, salsa and honey.

Alaska Vegan and Gluten Free will be back this week with a menu that includes red lentil dahl, carrot ginger soup, red beans and rice topped with pico de gallo, lemon garlic hemp seed salad dressing, homemade tortilla chips and other items.

Anchorage Farmers Market

Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics says the market will have the following list of vendors: Arctic Organics, Stockwell Farm, Bushes Bunches, VanderWeele Farms, Northern Flowers, Vang Family Home Garden, The Magpie and Turkey Red baked goods.

Arctic Organics will be featuring broccoli, broccoli rabe, baby lettuce mix, mustard greens, fresh-cut flowers, kales, collard greens, snow apple turnips, other vegetable crops, a few hanging baskets and apple trees.

South Anchorage Farmers Market

Look for several regular vendors at the market, including the Rempel Family Farm, Arctic Choice Seafood and Earthworks Farm.

New this week for Rempel Family Farm will be cabbage, broccoli, basil and golden beets. Earthworks Farm will have honey, vegetables, natural cosmetics made with beeswax and honey, and the first flower bouquets of the season. “The bouquets will be creative, colorful compositions with stock as a centerpiece flower with accents of yarrow, orlaya and green oats,” says co-owner Dee Barker. “Stock is a popular flower at the market and relished for its sweet cinnamon-like scent.”

Kristy Schenk of Arctic Choice says there are plenty of seafood treats, including oysters and mussels from Kachemak Bay. “The side-stripe shrimp have been very popular the last two weeks, so be sure to arrive early,” she says. “Seldovia Point sockeyes are still running and prices are maintaining, so it might be a good time to stock up the freezer.”

South Anchorage Wednesday Market

Five vendors are lined up for this midweek market at the Dimond Center.

Here is a report from Carol Kenley of Kenley’s Alaskan Vegetables on what to expect: “As the season progresses, we continue to add new vegetables to our tables. This week, for the lucky early few, we will have our first sugar snap peas and new potatoes! The supply is extremely limited but next week promises an abundance of these. … If you haven’t tried kohlrabi yet, you should definitely add this wonderful vegetable to your shopping list this week.”

Northway Mall Farmers Market

Dinkel’s Veggies will have new potatoes and cabbage at the market this week. They will also have green beans, strawberries, vine-ripened tomatoes, leaf lettuce, broccoli and other items. They will also sell produce at the Wasilla Wednesday Market and at three locations on Saturday, including the Anchorage Market and Festival.

Papa B’s Fruit will have organic plums and apricots, along with first-of-the-season hybrid melons.

Spenard Farmers Market

Highlights from the market under the windmill include fresh crab from Alaska Gourmet; Capriccio Specialties with a variety of wild Alaska mushrooms, including fresh or dried morels, shiitake, oyster and a wild Alaska chaga mushroom tincture; Ba-Lescas Brothers with Mexican bread, coconut macaroons, peas, watercress, red garlic and gourmet onions; and Glacier Valley Farm with fresh produce and baked goods, including cinnamon rolls and breads.

Local farmers’ markets

Monday: Mat-Su Farm Market, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Palmer Depot

Wednesday: APU Farmers Market, 1:30-6:30 p.m., 4101 University Drive; Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Northway Mall Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Northway Mall; South Anchorage Wednesday Market, Dimond Center, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wasilla Farmers Market, near Wasilla Wonderland Park, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Thursday: Peters Creek American Legion Post 33 Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m., 21643 Old Glenn Highway

Saturday: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at 15th Avenue and Cordova Street in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot; Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Subway/Cellular One Sports Center at the corner of Old Seward Highway and O’Malley Road; Saturday Eagle River Farmers Market, Mike’s Meats in Eagle River, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Spenard Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Spenard Road and 26th Avenue

Sunday: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets

Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at sedwards@adn.com.