Joshua Slaughter: Chef in Wild Alaska

Gourmet dining around the bend from vast glaciers and tumbling icefalls? Sure, if you're at McCarthy Lodge near Wrangell–St. Elias National Park.

Joshua Slaughter, McCarthy Lodge, McCarthy Alaska near Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, image

Summer is McCarthy Lodge season for chef Slaughter. In winter, he migrates south.

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McCarthy, Alaska, is home to just a few hundred people in summer. But what a home! In its backyard are the glaciers of vast Wrangell–St. Elias National Park. Chef Joshua Slaughter spends his summers cooking at McCarthy Lodge, a magnet for park visitors. (907) 554-4402, mccarthylodge.com.

Q Why McCarthy?
A It’s such an isolated and unique location. Not everyone gets to wake up every morning to a view of stairway icefalls on the Root and Kennicott glaciers.

Q You were at Bouchon Bistro in California. What’s different here?
A With Thomas Keller, a top chef in the Napa Valley, I could use just about any ingredient from anywhere. Here, our diners are interested in the local seafood, game, and produce. It’s part of the Alaska experience.

Q Your approach in the kitchen?
A We focus on using local products at the height of their season. We actually go out and pick high bush cranberries.

Q Favorite ingredient?
A Copper River red salmon. In my opinion that’s the best fish in the world. It’s really rich and its flavor is the true essence of Alaska. We only buy it from our neighbor Ralph Lohse, a commercial fisherman.

Q Compromises you’re forced to make?
A If anything is missing from the weekly food delivery, we have to be creative. There are just a handful of us in the kitchen. It’s not like we can run around the corner to the grocery store.

Q How do you spend your spare time?
A There are endless hiking trails, and we love to go foraging for wild berries, morels, and herbs.

Photography by Kim Hummel

This article was first published in July 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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