Food Network series focuses on Juneau, Sitka and Haines

Posted: Friday, August 08, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Staring at her face in the mirror of a small makeup compact while sitting in The Alaskan Hotel and Bar on Wednesday, Sandra Pinckney could have been one of the regulars. Could have been, except for the lights, the video camera panned close on her face and the script proclaiming the merits of Alaskan Smoked Porter sitting on the bar next to her.

''I love my job,'' said Pinckney, as the bartender slid a pint of a dark beer next to her.

The beer was not Alaskan Smoked Porter. The bar at The Alaskan doesn't carry the award-winning brew on tap. But the beer was dark enough to pose for the Juneau brew on television.

Pinckney, the host of the Food Network's ''Food Finds'' series, travels once or twice a month to destinations across the United States searching for high-quality regional food products that viewers can mail-order. Earlier this week, she came with the ''Food Finds'' crew to Southeast Alaska. On the agenda were visits to Juneau, Sitka and Haines.

''We've wanted to come here for many years,'' said the show's executive producer, Barry Gribbon. His staff proposed Southeast Alaska as a destination for ''Food Finds'' to the Food Network last year and began researching businesses here several months ago.

The show chose to highlight Horst Seafood and the Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau. On Sunday, the crew filmed at Theobroma Chocolates in Sitka. Thursday, the crew left for Haines, where they planned to highlight Birch Boy Alaskan Syrups.

''They filmed all day, my facility and myself,'' said Horst Schramm, owner of Horst Seafood. A German immigrant, Schramm worked as a Volkswagen mechanic before opening his seafood company in 1994.

''Food Finds'' contacted Schramm a few months ago.

''I was excited. Wouldn't you be?'' said Schramm. ''I'm just a normal person it was nice that they picked me from all the other people.''

The crew filmed Schramm and his employees buying fish from fishermen, then filleting the fish and smoking it at the company's plant.

On Wednesday, when host Pinckney joined the crew in Juneau from her home in Charlotte, N.C., they filmed at the Timberline Restaurant at the top of the Mount Roberts Tram. They took advantage of the sunny weather to get some scenic footage of Juneau.

Following the tram shoot, the crew filmed at The Alaskan Hotel and Bar, then at the Mendenhall Glacier.

''The glacier may look better to us in cloudy weather, but to the camera it looks better with blue skies,'' said Gribbon, grateful for the clear weather. He had checked Juneau's weather online for several weeks and was nervous that all of the shots for the segment would have to be indoors.

On Thursday, the crew headed to the Alaskan Brewing Co. to film the brewing process and interview Geoff and Marcy Larson, the company's founders.

''It's a very well-respected show, and they've done a lot of wonderful things for a lot of businesses,'' said Kristi Monroe, public relations director for the brewery.

''Food Finds'' airs its 30-minute show on the Food Network. The Juneau segment likely will air next spring, when people are making their summer travel plans, Gribbon said.

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