Alaska Select Seafood: Sea-to-(Quaran)Table
Alaska Select Seafood, a Moab-based Business, is on Track to Stock Home Fridges with Pristine Protein
Strange times indeed leave many small businesses shuffling to consider not only how they can stay afloat, but how they can adjust to serve their local community, if possible. The COVID-19 pandemic has fallen on the Moab area like an invisible fog, presenting the social paradox of isolation and unity. Personal and economic sacrifices are being made for the greater health of our community as we try to navigate uncertain times. Social distancing and quarantining make food and shelter our collective priorities.
Alaska Select Seafood representative Jenna Talbott says their sea-to-table business is on track to distribute flash-frozen sustainably-caught wild Alaskan seafood to their club members in the Moab area in May.
“Hopefully things will be calming down by then,” Talbott says. “But either way we are going to keep on track taking seafood orders and providing a convenient and quality source of omega-3s and protein for households.”
Marcia Tendick, board president of the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, is an avid supporter of Alaska Select Seafood and says she made a phone call to owner Nick Lee in mid-March to report her empty freezer and to express her hope that orders would still open this spring.
Alaska Select traditionally distributes bulk orders of seafood to individuals in Moab twice a year, in May and again in October/November. Club members (join for free here) generally pick up their orders at the South Side Gym Parking lot, which will take place this May on Thursday the 14th between 5-6:30pm.
However, Lee says that due to the present circumstances, the small company is offering home deliveries to those who are immunocompromised or under quarantine.
“We will encourage those who are able to please come and pick up their orders while still practicing social distancing as necessary,” he says. “We will do our best to responsibly manage the distributions. We are taking this opportunity to maintain services for our customers very seriously.”
Talbott says if Alaska Select was generally “about” anything (besides quality, she notes), it would be responsibility. The company uses its income and resources to fund educational projects about the seafood industry so that consumers can make responsible choices, whether it’s with Alaska Select Seafood or in the seafood isle of their local market.
“I first got involved with Nick on his passion-project side of things,” Talbott says. “We put together a presentation sort of decoding the intentionally misleading language used in the seafood industry, so that consumers can understand what story they are buying into. Nick is very passionate about empowering people because he really understands what is at stake with our oceans.”
Talbott is heading into her third season working in the Bristol Bay fishery in Alaska, where Lee has fished for 35 years. As a Quality Control personnel, Talbott saw first hand how the fishery has upped its standards to produce the catch that Alaska Select proudly represents. Lee and Talbott are working on a book that delves into how these practices revolutionized and saved the Bristol Bay industry, which now steadily provides over half the world’s sockeye salmon.
Over the years, Lee grew his personal distributions of Bristol Bay’s sockeye salmon from family and friends into Alaska Select Seafood. He began networking with other responsibly-sourcing fishermen and small fisheries in Alaska to provide a variety of wild caught options for seafood lovers to order in bulk.
Lee’s sockeye salmon is available for order in 10 or 20 pound boxes of flash frozen fillets or portions. Alaska Select also offers black cod, Pacific cod, smoked sockeye salmon, halibut, spot prawns and bairdi snow crab--some available in 5 lb boxes. The company’s website has detailed information on the background and sourcing of each product.
Nick Lee hangs his captains hat all but two months of the year, yet his whole life is dedicated to sharing his insight into the seafood industry. The following clip highlights the beginning of Lee’s journey down a path that ultimately leads to a full-length documentary in the works:
Tendick says she and her husband first met Lee at a Canyonlands Field Institute fundraiser at Whispering Oaks in 2015, where they struck up a conversation at the dinner table.
“We found out he was a fisherman up in those pristine Alaskan waters and we got hooked into it,” Tendick says. “I had given up on eating much fish because I didn’t know where to get it from a pure source.”
Tendick says they were eager to place an order of salmon and halibut, which they still order twice a year, 5 years later. Somewhere along the line they asked Lee for his personal recommendation and black cod earned its regular place in their freezer.
“Our neighbors like to order the smoked salmon,” she says. “Sometimes we order that too--we especially like to have it on hand for our grandkids.”
Tendick says her advice to prospecting customers is to simply browse the website, make sure they’re available on the distribution date, and to clear space in their freezer ahead of time.
“Nick makes it pretty easy,” she says. “It’s an excellent product from start to finish.”
Tendick also says she utilizes the resources on the Alaska Select website on occasion, where there can be found an array of recipes to guide and inspire home cooking--something it seems we are all becoming more accustomed to of late.
To join the Moab club, go to www.alaskaselectseafood.com and place your order by May 4th. Pick up will be at the South Side Gym Parkinglot on Thursday, May 14th between 5-6:30pm.
To set up a special request home delivery after placing your order, email Nick Lee at email@example.com. Home deliveries are reserved for those who are immunocompromised, unwell, or under implemented quarantine.