Mother-and-daughter chefs Kirsten and Mandy Dixon cater to a crowd that loves a little something wild. Wild as in the Alaskan countryside, where the Dixon family’s seaside Tutka Bay Lodge (about 200 miles from Anchorage) and secluded backcountry Winterlake Lodge (at Rainy Pass, along the Iditarod Trail) serve up outdoor adventure along with meals highlighting local Alaskan produce. Salmon, halibut, rockfish, Dungeness crab, and Kachemak Bay oysters, as well as berries, honey, and mushrooms are inspirations for the Dixons’ menus, as well as for their two cookbooks, the Winterlake Lodge Cookbook and the Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook (the latter a winner of a 2015 award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals).
With her husband, Carl, Kirsten launched their Alaskan adventure-lodge business more than 30 years ago. “He was the guide and I was the cook,” says Kirsten, a former nurse who was inspired while running the lodge to take a break to pursue serious culinary studies at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Later she earned a master’s degree in gastronomy from the University of Adelaide, in Australia.
While Kirsten is mostly at the stove at Tutka Bay and Mandy runs the Winterlake kitchen, they both take part in the lodges’ cooking school, launched in 2010 and based on a repurposed crabbing boat moored in a lagoon outside the Tutka Bay Lodge. They also host informal pre-dinner culinary sessions in the respective kitchens.