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During the days I planned to stay in the Homer, Alaska, area, my lodging of choice — Tutka Bay Lodge — was booked.
With a little digging, I discovered that a VIP guest booked the entire lodge for himself.
I wasn’t even mad. Rather, I was impressed. After all, a three-night stay at Tutka Bay — inclusive of gourmet meals and superlative tailored heli-excursions ranging from bear viewing to private guided fishing — costs a whopping $5,695 per person.
But, fortunately for unlikely would-be guests such as me, there is another way to get a taste of the remote nature lodge, thanks to the owners’ serious interest in world-class gastronomy.
Housed in a rehabilitated World War II ship, The Cooking School at Tutka Bay welcomes guests, as well as the public, onto the property for weekend culinary classes. Leading the afternoon is a highly qualified culinary instructor, such as Mandy Dixon, who also happens to be the daughter of chef Kirsten Dixon, the owner of Tutka Bay Lodge and sister property Winterlake Lodge.
Participants take an escorted water taxi from Homer’s pier to the lodge, where they’ll watch a cooking demonstration before trying their hand at making a portion of their own lunch.
There was a lot of oohing and aahing once inside the one-of-a-kind, old-timey vessel. The property has successfully elevated the experience with a set table filled with takeaway recipe cards, notepads and snacks that included a lovely assortment of shortbread cookies topped with edible Alaskan wildflowers.
Moroccan fare was on the menu during my course, though all classes utilize the best Alaskan ingredients when possible. Taking a cue from a member of the lodge’s kitchen staff, we flipped and fried fresh dough for our very own semolina-encrusted msemen (square pancake).
The best part of the half-day experience was sharing a multicourse meal with fellow classmates, who included a group of Californians and two pairs of locals. Happily full and downright giddy, our group was an example of how good food and few distractions turns strangers into friends, which — apart from buyouts — is what Tutka Bay is all about.
The DetailsThe Cooking School at Tutka Baywww.withinthewild.com