A Big Adventure in Alaska!

Jetsetter Jenn1664 views

I held off on making this announcement on the blog, but now it’s time to let you know what’s in store for the next several months. Cue the trumpets, here’s a big announcement:

I am spending the summer in Alaska!

I am so excited to spend four whole months getting to know the 49th State more intimately. I am so excited that someone believes in my culinary prowess enough to hire me to cook food for paying guests. I am so excited to combine so many things I love in this world (traveling, eating, and cooking) into one incredible adventure.

Here’s a little background…

Back in late January, I was at a bit of a crossroads. I knew I needed to get back into earning cash (at least, more than the drips and drabs from odd jobs and the occasional freelance writing gig) because bills. But I was also in the conundrum of still being in a place of transition. The English Muffin (nickname for my fiance) was still in Sydney awaiting his visa for America. I was living with my family in SoCal awaiting his eventual arrival. We are planning to settle in San Francisco once he arrives. The questions in my head…

Should I just get a full-time job in San Francisco before the Muffin comes? Even though that means (guh) going back to a cubicle indoors all day again?

Should I find something down in SoCal, where I can live rent-free for a while? Even though finding temp work down here would be a royal pain in the arse and would pay peanuts?

Should I start the marketing consulting business I’ve been toying with? And continue to live in relative uncertainty regarding income?

Alaska Struggle

It wasn’t fun. But I had faith, because since I cast off the bowlines and sailed out of the safe harbor, the universe has been looking after me. Each time I was ready to pack it in and go back to my ‘real life’ (read: working for money instead of passion), some little pocket of cash would magically appear and buy me more time. I was sure my luck had run out. Until an email appeared in my inbox a couple of weeks after I arrived in Australia for a long visit with the Muffin Man.

Paraphrasing, it said this:

My name is Rob, and I’m the captain and owner of Classic Alaska Charters based in Ketchikan, Alaska. I’m looking for a chef for the upcoming 2016 season. I’m about to offer you the absolute perfect opportunity for where you are in your life. Are you ready for the universe to take care of you again? 

Okay, that wasn’t exactly what it said in black-and-white there on my computer screen. But that’s exactly what it said to my soul.

Alaska Inspiration

That soul of mine has gotten some good practice at recognizing life-changing moments, and I could feel it in this one. My heart raced, my palms got sweaty, and the arms of gratitude and wonder wrapped around me and gave me a solid squeeze. It was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it most. But enough about my wacky feelings, here are the cold, hard facts.

The Alaska Adventure FAQs

What exactly are you doing?

I am the chef for the 2016 summer season for Classic Alaska Charters. It is a well-respected business that has been operating fishing, wildlife, and sightseeing charters for over 20 years! When I was hired in March, they were already fully booked for the 2016 season and were already getting booking requests for 2017. If that’s not a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.

Jetsetter Jenn Cooking in Bali
Ehrmagerd! Cerking!

How did you hear about this?

When I took off for my travels in 2015, I signed up for a TON of different websites that let you travel inexpensively and in unique ways. One of those sites was Captain Rob found my profile on there and sent me an email, and the rest is history!

How can I see what you’re up to while you’re there?

So many ways… I will probably be offline for most of the weekdays, but I’ll be blogging, Facebooking, Instagramming, Tweeting, and Snapchatting whenever possible. If you haven’t already, follow me on those networks so you can see what’s happening!

How long are you up there, and are you on the water the whole time?

I leave this freaking weekend (yep, Sunday the 15th of May), and I’ll be a Ketchikanian (is that what they call it?) until September 16th. The chartered tours leave on a Monday and return on a Friday. This means my weekly schedule includes weekends docked in Ketchikan to restock the galley, menu-plan, and hang with the locals on terra firma. But Monday through Friday I’ll be out in the great wild yonder, spotting wildlife and cooking the freshest seafood in the USA.

Where are you living?

My home is called the Saltery C, a 40-foot Bayliner that is primarily docked in Ketchikan, Alaska. I’m staying in the converted Captain’s Quarters, which has been slightly modified to add more kitchen storage. I’ll be sure to Snapchat my new space once I’m up there!

Alaska Saltery C
Home Sweet Home, the Saltery C (Photo: Classic Alaska Charters)

Wait, when did you go to culinary school?

Shhh, this is a little secret: I never went! At least, not traditionally. But I’ve been cheffing it up at home for the past ten years, and I’ve taken formal cooking classes at regular enough intervals that you might be able to say I’ve gotten formal instruction. It’s just been really spread out. In the ‘old days’ there was no school to become a chef. You just started cooking, and someone paid you to do it. That made you a chef. Which makes me legit now that I have a paying gig, I suppose.

Do you have to cook to a set menu?

This is the best part: I have complete creative freedom to set the menu as I choose! That’s more than most line cooks can say, and I’m so stoked about it. I will have the experienced oversight of the boss and captain, Rob. After so many years on the water, he will be a wealth of knowledge. Plus, he’s a bona-fide foodie himself (we bonded over our love for PacNW legendary chef Tom Douglas), so he knows good food when he sees it. Much of my protein will be determined by the catch-of-the-day, which includes yumminess like halibut, salmon, shrimp, and crab. So I will have some guidelines, but I will be able to experiment til the cows come home (or moose?). So get ready for seafood recipes galore for each Foodie Friday this summer!

How many people do you cook for?

Here’s the second-best part: The boat never has more than six paying guests at a time. This means my max capacity for a meal is eight people, including crew. Totally manageable.

So that’s it! Any other questions?

That’s my exciting news, and it sets the tone for what you can expect coming up on this site and my social networks. There are a few fun freelance projects that I’m diversifying into (more news on that later) and of course I’ll keep up with posts about the rest of my travels. We’re just getting ready to head into Europe, so it will be super fun! Despite a busier week and less connectivity, I’m still committed to bringing you fresh content on the regular, so never fear.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Connect on any of the social networks or send me an email!

I’ll be chilin’ with these nuggets all summer long… (Photo: Classic Alaska Charters)

The title photo for this post is credited to Alan Wu under CC-BY-SA-2.o)