For the third year the Alaska State Dutch Oven championships were held in conjunction with Soldotna Progress Days. The annual event is a qualifier for the World Dutch Oven Championships held in Salt Lake City. The last two years Alaska Champion Carla Anderson has competed at the World Dutch Oven Cook-Off, but this year she focused on helping organize the Alaska event and encouraging others to participate. They even held local classes in Dutch oven cooking leading up to the state competition last week. “When you see others get involved and become successful, especially the youth it’s truly a thrill,” says Anderson. This year’s Junior Champions John Vinzant and Dillon Hutchings are a perfect example, “I’ve never done it before and I’ve never won anything before, I just did it last night because Dillon needed a partner and someone to cook with him,” an excited Vinzant told the Dispatch in an interview. “Nope me either,” agreed Dillon, “I did it for the first time two days ago and that’s all,” said the new Junior State Champions. Starting from scratch the team cooked up a Black Forest cake for their desert and a sweet salsa chicken for their main dish. Finishing second in the junior division was the team of Cajewl Musgrave and Savannah Kreider and in third were Michael and his 10-year-old brother Matthew Lewis. “We used a recipe that came out of the World Championship cook book, but next time I just might create my own,” said Michael. Winning the Novice division was “Buns in the Oven” the team of Molly Noyes, Stephanie Ferguson and Jamie Doremire.
In the adult division when the final morsel was scored it was revealed that the 2012 Alaska State Champion Dutch Oven Cook was none other than Dr. Nels Anderson. Anderson and his wife Carla are responsible for bringing the state championship event to Soldotna and he is currently the president of the Last Frontier chapter of the International Dutch Oven Society (IDOS). “It’s the first year I’ve competed for the Alaska championship and I guess I’ll be going to the World Cook-Off. I’ve been there with Carla and it’s a lot of fun, but the competition is really stiff,” said Anderson. His partner Lane Kreiger was also pretty excited about winning, “We cooked up a rhubarb cream pie for dessert, garlic rolls for our bread, and a pork loin wrapped in bacon with an apple cranberry mushroom sauce was our main dish,” said Kreiger. According to Anderson they will have to create or have six recipes ready to turn in for the world competition by the end of December those recipes will them be made into the 2013 world championship cook book. “We’ll be doing some serious planning in the next few months, we’re going to go for it and give it our best. I’m happy to have won today because at least I maintained my reputation with my boy scouts,” laughed Anderson.
The Dutch oven tradition started with the Western pioneers and was an essential of any covered wagon party heading west. Anderson has been around Dutch oven cooking since he was young boy, “We’d go out camping in Utah and stick a Dutch oven full of potatoes and onions and cook it over a sage brush fire. I thought that was the best meal anyone could ever eat out camping. It’s an American pioneer tradition that is really gaining in popularity around the world and it’s going to be an honor to represent Alaska at the world cook-off,” he said. For more information check out IDOS on Facebook.