The much anticipated first run of Copper River salmon touched down at Sea-Tac Airport Tuesday morning. At approximately 7 o'clock this morning, a 45 pound salmon emerged from the Alaska Airlines cockpit, signaling the beginning of the summer salmon season.
"The big deal today is the first wild salmon of the season. What makes it unique is the length of the river system and the distance the fish has to travel. It has to store up fat to make that journey because it doesn't eat on the way up. Like a piece of Kobe beef, the marbling in the fish gives it that extra flavor," said Frankie Ragusa, General Manager of Ocean Beauty Seafoods.
Executive chefs from Anthony's Restaurants, Elliott's Oyster House and SkyCity at the Space Needle were on hand to compete in the 2nd Annual "Copper Chef Cook-off," judged by celebrities including Jay Buhner and Mike Fourtner.
"I'm just looking forward to getting a big hunk of king salmon," said Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer.
Judge Fourtner joked that he has been preparing for this moment for months.
"I've been eating salmon every morning at 5:30 a.m. I'm mentally prepared today. I'm here, I'm ready to go," said Mike Fourtner from the show The Deadliest Catch.
Executive Chef, Pat Donahue, of Anthony's Restaurants took top honors in the cook-off for the second year in a row.
Five more Alaskan Airlines flights totaling almost 100,000 pounds of salmon are expected to arrive at Sea-Tac Airport Tuesday.