When talking about the local Pennsylvania food scene, one can understand how Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon might not initially enter into the conversation. And yet, while this sought after seafood is shipped in from over 3,000 miles away, the founders and owners of Wild for Salmon reside and run their business just 91 miles away in Bloomsburg, PA.
Pennsylvania natives Steve & Jenn Kurian didn’t initially set out to start a business. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in Forestry, Steve accepted a job in commercial fishing, and the two set out on what was meant to be no more than an exciting Alaskan adventure. For two years Jenn & Steve enjoyed an unconventional Alaskan way of life, before first shipping some of their salmon back to Pennsylvania as gifts for friends and family. Not long after doing so, their neighbors at Forks Farm sought out their salmon to sell at their Farmers Market. It was then that the Kurians first recognized the demand that existed for their product, right here in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Since 2004 the Kurians have spent 7-8 weeks a year on their boat in Bristol Bay, tirelessly working to bring the highest quality sockeye salmon to our area. The average fishing cycle runs 8-10 hours at a time, with short 2-4 hour bouts of sleep in between. Sustainability is important to Steve & Jenn, and they are proud to fish the waters of Bristol Bay, where there is strict enforcement of proper escapement, in order to ensure a sufficient salmon population year after year. Due in large part to the careful monitoring of these waters, there have been record runs of salmon in Bristol Bay over the past 2 years.
The day-to-day execution of business has changed significantly over the past several years, as Steve and Jenn added two children to their family. After 8 years of fishing side-by-side on the boat, Steve now leads a crew of 5 fisherman, and Jenn stays at home in Pennsylvania with Ava Jane (their fishing boat’s namesake) and Tommy, focusing her efforts on Wild for Salmon’s sales and marketing. Five fisherman is a larger crew than you’ll find on the average boat, but because Wild for Salmon is committed to producing the highest quality product, they have extra hands on deck to expedite the process of bleeding and counting the fish and getting them quickly into the holds. Approximately every 8-10 hours the fish are offloaded onto another boat which transports them for processing. There the fish are filleted, flash frozen and vacuum sealed to bring you the freshest flavor possible.
Back at home in Bloomsburg, Wild for Salmon maintains a staff of 13, who keep sales and distribution running smoothly. From their storefront to Farmers Markets, online sales to wholesale, Wild for Salmon has expanded to meet the ever-increasing demands of the market. While Alaskan sockeye salmon, revered for its outstanding flavor and health benefits, remains the Kurian’s primary product, recent years have seen the expansion of their seafood offerings. Due to the strong relationships that have been built with other fisherman, Jenn & Steve partner with their friends to bring new products to the local market as well. And because they skip the middleman and work directly with the fisherman, Wild for Salmon can bring high quality products to their customers in Pennsylvania while keeping overhead low and offering competitive pricing. Some of the more popular products that Jenn & Steve import from other Alaskan fisherman are Black cod, Halibut, Pacific cod, Weathervane scallops and King & Coho salmon. Their personal favorite, however, are Halibut Cheeks, a rare delicacy that sells out quickly.
To try some of these newer offerings, visit Jenn & Steve’s website or their storefront in Bloomsburg. And for their signature Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, stop in to Kimberton Whole Foods today.