Suzanna Caldwell

Fairbanks teen Nick Prayner had a simple question last year: How could he bake bread to donate to the local food bank? "I just wanted to do something to help the community," he said. The answer, it turns out, was a little more complicated than he expected. But after asking a few questions and working with local agencies, the Fairbanks Community Food Bank is bursting with fresh-baked bread from the community. Kim Prayner, Nick’s mom, collected over 700 loaves of fresh-baked bread from Fairbanks schools this week. Each family receiving assistance from the food bank gets one loaf. The idea for the bread drive came a year after the family collected more than 1,000 pounds of regular food for the food bank in 2013. Nick wanted to keep doing more, so last year he and his mom decided he was going...Suzanna Caldwell
A parking problem shut down the Fireweed Take In last month, adding to the latest woes of the Anchorage food truck scene. In October the food truck meet-up -- designed to offer a winter gathering spot for mobile food trucks in Anchorage -- was shut down by the city over a lack of parking spots. The take-in didn’t last long. It opened Oct. 1 and by Oct. 26 had been closed by the city. Event organizer Darrin Huycke said it’s just the latest challenge Anchorage food trucks have faced in the effort to expand their presence. “We've had a dark cloud kind of following us each time we try to expand and evolve the food truck idea,” Huycke said Monday. The idea for the take-in was people could buy meals from the two or three trucks parked outside, then bring it into the building that used to house...Suzanna Caldwell
Independent power producers are celebrating a Regulatory Commission of Alaska decision that will grant them competitive access to electrical transmission, saying it will spur investment in renewable energy projects. The commission voted four to one Wednesday to adopt new regulations, which dictate a number of cost factors used in negotiating with independent power producers. The decision updates a series of complex electrical utility regulations from 1982. Independent power producers said those rules made it difficult to develop renewable and alternative energy sources by creating high cost barriers for small electrical generators to sell wholesale power and access state-owned or -subsidized transmission systems. Non-utility power producers -- generally, small-scale renewable energy...Suzanna Caldwell
John Fox is a plumber by day and a cookie baker by night. While it might sound like an odd U-turn for the longtime Anchorage resident, Fox, who held a soft opening for the first Nestle Toll House Café on Tuesday, said the two aren’t totally independent. “I’m a people person,” he said in his cafe Tuesday. The cafe is the first of its kind in Alaska and the latest chain restaurant to hit the state. Fox said the cafe focuses on cookies, noting that’s what the Toll House brand is known for. If you forget, just walk inside. With bright golden yellow and brown walls, entering the cafe is a bit like walking inside a bag of chocolate chips. There are plenty of cookies -- from classic chocolate chip to white chocolate macadamia nut and beyond -- plus an array of other desserts, including ice cream...Suzanna Caldwell
The Food Bank of Alaska's Ship Creek warehouse is filled with more than 11,000 frozen turkeys, along with thousands of pounds of apples, potatoes and canned vegetables this week, all in preparation for the annual Thanksgiving Blessing grocery distribution. It's the culmination of a year of planning for the Food Bank, which will provide meals for about 10,000 families in Anchorage and the Mat-Su. While food pantries across the state are in charge of fundraising and collecting food for their Thanksgiving Blessing -- an annual meal distribution for families in need -- the Food Bank coordinates some of the most in-demand items: specifically the turkeys, potatoes and apples. The Food Bank doesn't serve the food directly. Instead, the group collects donations for local organizations, like...Suzanna Caldwell
An Anchorage restaurant has found itself overwhelmed with support after its owner shared a Facebook post standing up to mistreatment of an employee with developmental disabilities. It all started with a customer calling to complain to Little Italy Restaurante on Saturday night. On the phone was an irate customer complaining about one of the restaurant’s delivery drivers. According to restaurant owner P.J. Gialopsos, the customer was ranting, using foul language and accusing the driver of using drugs when he brought him the wrong container of food. Gialopsos said her daughter, Emily, took the call and tried to explain to the man that he was mistaken. She told him that the delivery driver, who has worked at the restaurant for the past two years, has autism and a speech impediment. She...Suzanna Caldwell
Private pilot Michael Mackowiak, 56, was so sure his Cessna's fuel tanks were nearly full when he left Juneau for the short hop to Haines Nov. 4 that when his gauges suddenly pointed to zero in midair, he thought they were broken. Mackowiak checked the circuit breakers to make sure there was still power to the gauges, but the breakers were fine, according to a U.S. National Transportation Safety Board report released Tuesday. His engine was still running normally, he told the NTSB, and instead of looking for an emergency place to land, Mackowiak took his plane, with its three passengers, up to 2,500 feet. He tapped the gauges and one jumped to a quarter-tank. Then the engine died. The NTSB report, a preliminary look into the eventual crash, said Mackowiak used the primer control to try to...Suzanna Caldwell
Restaurant owner Christopher Quist does things a little differently at his Fairbanks restaurant, LUNCH Café and Eatery . The cafe uses mostly organic and locally sourced items and has an extensive gluten-free menu. It doesn’t serve any mammal products, including dairy. And, in what is likely an Alaska restaurant first, it doesn’t accept tips. “I think it's the future,” Quist said in a phone interview in Fairbanks on Wednesday. Quist has been going “service compris” (using the French pronunciation) at the restaurant since July. Quist, also a Fairbanks North Star Borough assemblyman, said he introduced the idea of eliminating tips in an effort to create a more “egalitarian” work environment. Any tips left behind are donated to Stone Soup Café , a local soup kitchen. “The dishwasher is...Suzanna Caldwell
After years of back and forth, the clock is ticking for the Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage Plant. Southcentral Alaska’s only USDA-certified meat processing facility will close at the end of June, when the state’s fiscal year ends. One-time operational funding from the state Legislature earlier in the year has kept the plant going. But with no state funding in place after that, farmers are trying to figure out ways to keep the plant open, starting with Facebook. Heated discussions within the Alaska Farm and Food page rose to such a level that Division of Agriculture Director Franci Havemeister hosted a one-hour teleconference Wednesday updating members of the group on the status of the plant and answering questions about what they could do. Without USDA certification, farmers raising red-...Suzanna Caldwell
Behind any steaming bowl of pho soup or fried rice at Pho Vietnam 8, a new Fireweed Lane restaurant, is Linda La, the mastermind behind the chain of Anchorage’s Pho Vietnam restaurants . Pho Vietnam 8 is actually the fifth venture, despite the name. In Vietnamese culture, the number eight is associated with wealth and prosperity. What about five, six and seven? “Not so good,” La said in her latest restaurant in early October. La, 47, has founded about a half-dozen pho restaurants in Anchorage. While she no longer operates them all -- passing ownership of all but one off to members of her family -- the recipes, style and design are all hers. The chefs are all closely trained under her supervision and the sauces she developed, used for everything from pad Thai to spring roll dipping sauce,...Suzanna Caldwell