The Fantastic Mr. Feedbag

A website celebrating and enumerating Juneau, Alaska's food culture

Posts Tagged ‘subsistence lifestyle

Pesto Rockfish with Rebecca

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For just over a year, I was in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program in secondary education. The experience was incredible. I loved student teaching at Floyd Dryden with my awesome host teacher, and peer learning community. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve missed my students this summer, and I know that they’ll all go on to do some great things with their lives.

The MAT program is only a year long, and so the course work is intense. The summer session has classes that span about three weeks long. One of my favorite people to work with in the MAT program has been my friend, Rebecca. I made a lot of friends in the program who are going all around the world, and state to teach. I’ll miss them all – especially old Jim-Bob, Chris, Nick, Mara, and Abe. I’ll be thinking good thoughts for Summer and Jennie as they go on into the next two quarters of the program, and finish up their student teaching.

A difficult thing for me during my Master’s program was not having enough time to prepare good food, and not getting enough sleep. I worked part-time during the program, an average of three evenings a week at two different local restaurants. It was difficult, but the reward of not having a student loan payment makes me feel like it was worth it. My friend Rebecca and I bonded the last couple of weeks of class. During our break we’d work on course work, and share our lunches. Often we had strangely constructed salads, made from random scraps we grabbed from our kitchens in the morning mad dash to school.

Last week we got together a couple of times to work on our Teacher Work Samples and portfolios, and ate decent food. Rebecca has a pretty good line of fresh local fish, and this fresh rockfish was fabulous.

We prepared the rockfish by baking it in an iron skillet with a simple rub of pesto, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Fresh fish doesn’t need much to be delicious, but it’s easily dried out if you bake it without a source of moisture. This iron skillet recipe could accommodate many kinds of fish.


Rebecca and I talked about how rockfish is often called a poor man’s version of halibut. We decided that this particular rockfish was actually just as flavorful, if not better than halibut that we’d both had this summer. Rockfish can be rad!

– Three to four filets of fresh rockfish (or whatever fish you have available)
– Two tablespoons of olive oil
– Fresh ground pepper & sea salt to lightly coat the filets
– One to two tablespoons of pesto (freshly made, or store bought: Costco brand is good & affordable) to coat each filet

– Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
– Coat the pan in one to two tablespoons of olive oil
– Grind fresh pepper & sprinkle sea salt liberally on each side of your filets
– Rub a tablespoon or two of pesto into each side of your filets
– Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes (check on your filets at 20 minutes, or so to see if the fish is flaking – a good indication that it’s done)

Serving Suggestion:
We made an awesome fresh green salad with pine nuts and feta cheese to accompany our pesto rockfish filets. I’d suggest serving this fish with a Pinot Grigio, or an Alaskan Pale Ale.


Chef Joël Chenet

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Chef Joel Chenet
Chef Chenet constructs a display for his dessert kebobs, which included a few of his speciality desserts.

A few memorable times in my life I’ve had the honor of meeting a person who has truly mastered their craft. There are people who devote their life’s work to creating beauty out of some facet of the human experience. I have had the good fortune to cross paths with incredible writers, poets, song writers, painters, sculptors, and photographers. Whatever title these artists may hold, they embody and dedicate themselves to their creative expression with a discipline and spark that others lack.


Chef Joël Chenet is the first person I’ve met in my limited life experience that I would call a true “chef”. Chenet is a classically trained and devoted culinary master who has cooked for a French president, hunted and shared wine with Chef Jacques Pépin, and now lives in Alaska. Talking with Chef Chenet and having the chance to watch him work, peeling a few potatoes for him, and taking photographs while he was in Juneau last week was an incredible experience.

Please visit Laurie Constantino’s article about Chef Joël Chenet and Bristol Bay that include a few of the photographs I shot from that day. The most delicious part of Laurie Constantino’s article has to be Chef Chenet’s recipe for Salmon Rumaki, which I had the good fortune to eat. It was one of the most incredible and delightfully crafted pieces of food I’ve held in my grubby little hands.

Bristol Bay Kids oogle dessert display
Student leaders from Alaska Youth for Environmental Action admire Chef Chenet’s artful display.

Zucchini Roulade with Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese, Lox, & Micro Greens

Chef Chenet and his wife Martine, who also has a strong culinary background, own Mill Bay Coffee & Pastries in Kodiak, Alaska. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Kodiak, be sure to make a special visit to their coffee shop, although I’ve never been – I’m sure it’s amazing.

Special thanks to Laurie Constantino, Trout Unlimited, Lindsey Bloom, fine folks from Bristol Bay, student leaders, and of course Chef Joël Chenet for organizing and making such an incredible event possible in Juneau.

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