SEATTLE - About 10,000 pounds of fresh Copper River salmon arrived in Seattle on a fish-filled Alaska Airlines plane touching down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shortly after 6:30 a.m. this morning. Today officially marks the beginning of the summer salmon grilling season that is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. By noon, Alaska Air Cargo will deliver a total of 32,000 pounds of salmon to market with more scheduled on later flights.

UPDATE: The total amount of Copper River salmon being delivered today was updated to 32,000 based on a reduction in the actual shipment weight of the deliveries today. 

"Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices," said Jason Berry, managing director at Alaska Air Cargo. "Our Cargo employees are working around the clock to ensure we deliver the first catch of the coveted wild Copper River salmon to market, often within 24 hours of being pulled from the water."

Every year Alaska Air Cargo partners with the state of Alaska's three largest seafood processors, Trident Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, and Copper River Seafoods to bring the coveted fish to Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, where it will then be delivered to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest, and across the country.

Ninth annual Copper Chef Cook-off
The season's first fish, a 31-pound king salmon donated by Trident Seafoods, will become the catch of the day for three Seattle chefs competing for the best salmon recipe in the ninth annual "Copper Chef Cook-off." The chefs competing this year includes defending champion John Sundstrom, chef-owner, Lark, Slab Sandwiches + Pie, Southpaw Pizza, Executive Chef Paul Duncan of Ray's Boathouse and Executive Chef Chris Bryant of Wildfin American Grill. In an "Iron Chef" type competition, the three culinary elites will have 30 minutes to prepare and serve the freshly caught salmon to an audience of Alaska Airlines customers. Oregon winery Erath will provide wine pairings to accompany the dishes prepared during the cook-off. Seattle culinary giant and competition veteran John Howie and Ken Carson, the field announcer for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders, will co-emcee the early morning event.

The winning Copper River salmon recipe will be announced on the airline's Twitter account @AlaskaAir. Salmon lovers are encouraged to share their favorite ways to eat Copper River salmon by tagging @AlaskaAir and using the hashtag #iflyalaska.

Fish fanatics who want to recreate the dishes can download the chef's recipes at https://blog.alaskaair.com/2018-copper-river-salmon-recipes-copper-chef-cook-off and can learn more about some of the people of Cordova, Alaska that help to power the Alaskan fishing industry on the Alaska blog at blog.alaskaair.com/alaska-airlines/copper-river-salmon-2018.

Editor's note:
Photos from the event will be available for download on the Alaska Airlines blog: blog.alaskaair.com.