Mandy Dixon, 36, is the executive chef at Within the Wild adventure lodges. Dixon grew up on the Yentna River cooking with her mom in a lodge her family started in the early 1980s. She studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles and worked with renowned chef Thomas Keller before returning home.
“After about five years of living in California I kind of realized how much I missed Alaska and how special Alaska really is. The cuisine in Alaska really means a lot to me. Alaskan cuisine, to me, means growing food yourself, foraging, and buying from local farmers. Alaskan cuisine is a really unique blend of Asian, Russian, Alaska Native, and sourdough cuisine. A lot of people don’t realize what Alaskan cuisine is. They kind of think of Pacific Northwest cuisine. So, when I was thinking about all this I was like, I really need to get back to Alaska, get back to my family business, and pursue diving more into Alaskan cuisine and the history of cooking techniques from Alaska Natives and gardening techniques that we learned from Russians who were here before us. It’s all very interesting to me.”