We recently won the 2015 Symphony Of Seafood’s with our new shelf-stable Ruby Red Sockeye Chips. We took second place with our Ruby Red Sockeye Candy refrigerated jerky.
Startup smokes the competition – ExpoNeWS
Tilgner’s Specialized Smoked Seafood Products in Ninilchik, Alaska, took the grand prize for its Ruby Red Ole World Scottish Style Cold Smoked Sockeye, as well as first place in the smoked category and Anchorage People’s Choice award. Other first-place winners at the annual contest for new products made from Alaska sea food, and presented by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, include Ocean Beauty’s Salmon Jerky for retail, Trident Seafoods’ Redi Grilled Pollock for food service and Orca Bay Seafoods’ Cod Fillets with Sundried Tomato Pesto, which won the Seattle People’s Choice award.
Even though Tilgner’s began operations officially this past year, the story of its cold smoked salmon really began 35 years ago. Art Tilgner’s day job is as a physician specializing in aviation medicine and airmen certification, but he has also worked as a salmon gill-netter and oyster farmer. One day he read a magazine article about Scottish cold smoked salmon and decided to do some experimenting.
“I think our stuff is really unique,” he says. “I tell people all the time, you can write about it, talk about it, take pictures all you want. My motto is they need to smell it, they need to feel it and they need to taste it, and that’s what sells the fish every time.”
It’s not hard to tell the difference between Tilgner’s Ruby Red Olde World Scottish Style cold-smoked salmon ($85 a pound at Shelsky’s Smoked Fish, 251 Smith St., nr. Douglass St., Boerum Hill; 718-855-8817) and your everyday lox. There’s the striking hue, the lean but succulent flesh, and the assertive flavor, a result of dry salt-brining and then cold-smoking the wild sockeye over alder wood. When a customer of Peter Shelsky’s brought him a sample after an Alaskan fishing trip, the appetizing-shop owner promptly placed an order, making him New York’s exclusive retailer. Local aficionados are already calling it the Benton’s bacon of smoked salmon, and that might be an understatement.
Tilgner’s Ruby Red Ole World Scottish Style Cold Smoked Sockeye Salmon captured the grand prize, first place in smoked products competition and the Anchorage People’s Choice award, voted on by participants in the gala soiree earlier this month.
Art Tilgner, who had a family medical practice in Cordova, and his wife, Jo Ann Tilgner, born and raised in Cordova but living in Ninilchik these days, and the succulent cold smoked salmon they produce already has a steady customer base, from a gourmet restaurant at the Alyeska Ski Resort south of Anchorage to a deli in Brooklyn, N.Y. On tap, said Art Tilgner, are possible sales to a major national retail box store and a natural food store in Anchorage, plus wholesale opportunities throughout the New York metropolitan area.
The event attracts more than 1,000 exhibitors. With more than 19,000 attendees, it is the largest seafood trade show in North America.
Written by Cordova Times reporter Margaret Bauman at mbauman(at)thecordovatimes.com.
Recently, JoAnn and her family walked away from the 2014 Symphony of Seafood with a hat trick of accolades. The Symphony is an annual showcase hosted in both Seattle and Anchorage. Events are open to the public, and judged by a team of restaurateurs, chefs, caterers, and, according to Art, “people intimately involved in the seafood business.” The judging panel crowns a winner in three categories: retail, food service and smoked products. Since the competition is open to anyone, mom-and-pop operations like the Tilgners are stacked up against well-established billion-dollar seafood suppliers.
“We’ve been making this recipe now for 35 years,” said Jo Ann, a native of Cordova, and an oncology nurse at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. She was an employee at Tilgner’s medical practice for 14 years, during which time when the couple fell in love and married. Eventually Jo Ann earned a degree in nursing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Now she has a combined career as office manager for Tilgner Smoked Fish and as an oncology nurse at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer.
The family already has plans for a second seafood symphony next year. According to Art, they’re busy perfecting a dried salmon jerky “that is just going to be delicious.”
Written by J. Besl, UAA Office of University Advancement.