Renowned Alaska chef returns to Cordova

Owner and Head Chef of 229 Parks, Laura Cole, focuses on Alaska ingredients

Laura Cole, owner and head chef of 229 Parks in Denali National Park & Preserve will return to Cordova as guest chef for the Cordova Fungus Festival Wild Harvest Feast. Cole was previously a guest chef for Prince William Sound Science Center’s Copper River Nouveau and she was featured in PWSSC’s Chefs of the Copper River Nouveau Cookbook in 2014. Photo courtesy Ash Adams

Laura Cole, owner and head chef of 229 Parks in Denali National Park & Preserve, will prepare a special menu for the Wild Harvest Feast during the Cordova Fungus Festival on Sept. 1.

Twice nominated as a James Beard Foundation Best Chef Northwest, Cole is passionate about incorporating Alaska ingredients into her work.

“I love to cook from ‘the store outside your door’,” she said. “We have such amazing, unique foods that we raise, harvest and forage for here.”

Cole was also a recent competitor on the Bravo show Top Chef, where she became known as a “fierce competitor and huge personality,” according to Food and Wine Magazine.

Her favorite dish from cooking on the Top Chef show was the “potluck dish.”

Cole’s visit is sponsored by the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association as part of its fall media tour. Since food food trends are driven by chefs and what they serve on their menus, inviting chefs to tour the Copper River fishery is one way of making sure that they are familiar with wild Copper River salmon, its fishermen quality handling practices, and its management for sustainable yield.

On an earlier visit to Cordova, Cole prepared a meal for the Prince William Sound Science Center’s Copper River Nouveau. This time, she is cooking for the Copper River Watershed Project’s Wild Harvest Feast, which will be held at the Cordova Center. Cole herself is a key sponsor of this event; not only is she donating her cooking skills, she is contributing all the other ingredients (aside from salmon) from the sources and providers she uses for 229 Parks. A generous donation of fall Coho salmon for this special menu is being made by Copper River Seafoods.

This year marks the CRWP’s 20th anniversary. Proceeds from the event will support its work to keep the Copper River drainage the intact, thriving watershed system that it is today. The evening will also feature a silent auction table of artisan wares, mushroom-dyed silks and yarns, and preserves donated by Cordova’s foragers and berry pickers.

Kristin Carpenter is the executive director of the Copper River Watershed Project.