Owners Nathanael and Sarah Ferguson started their business, Savory Alaska, in 2018 to give their friends and family in Texas a taste of Alaska.
When cooking they would often hear comments on how good their salmon dinner tasted.
“I’m not particularly a good cook, so it’s not me—it’s the fish,” Nathanael said. “We have such a direct connection to some of the best seafood in the world, and it’s really difficult to get that experience in a grocery store.”
Fish from Savory Alaska taste like the ocean, the owners said, and lack the “fishy” taste that customers often avoid. Unlike large fisheries, the Fergusons’ fish are humanely processed with sustainability in mind. The fishermen who work with Savory Alaska are from small, independent businesses, which creates a ripple effect of support. Because of that, Sarah said, they are thankful for their regular customers.
“They’re not just helping our business grow; [they’re] helping multiple small businesses grow in Alaska as well,” Sarah said. “I don’t know if our customers always see the bigger picture, but that means a lot.”
Nathanael and Sarah said they have close relationships with the fishermen and companies they work with in Alaska. Nathanael, a native Alaskan, said he grew up on a fishing boat in a 60-person Alaskan fishing village. Many are childhood friends of Nathanael’s, and the close connections allow customers to request certain fish or specialty fish products, such as salmon collars, fish heads, halibut cheeks and white-fleshed salmon. Each fish has a label that gives details down to the name of the boat that caught the fish.
The pandemic brought some logistical challenges to the business, including shipment delays and relocations to Houston. The Fergusons chose to absorb much of the excess costs because their goal, they said, is to offer uniquely Alaskan fish to budget-minded customers. When grocery stores sold out of meat at the beginning of the pandemic, many customers sought out fish from Savory Alaska and other farmers market sellers, which led the business to sell out faster than expected.
Amid the pandemic, the Fergusons took on a new business venture: They opened Savory Farmers Market in June inside the Travisso community. Products include meats, crafts, plants, vegetables and more.
Many vendors lost business during the pandemic because restaurants needed less supply and many local festivals and events were canceled, Sarah said. Some vendors found the farmers market as a new output for sales while their regular customers were on hold.
"This provided another opportunity for not just us but for all of the vendors too," Sarah said.
From sea to market
Here's how Savory Alaska's products often take just two days to travel from Alaskan fishing boats to farmers markets in Texas:
1. Hook-and-line caught fish are hand processed on a boat and flash frozen.
2. Packaged fish travel by boat to Juneau, Alaska.
3. Fish are flown on Alaska Airlines to Austin.
4. Products are sold at weekly farmers markets in Georgetown and Leander.
Where to find them:
Sun City Farmers Market
9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays
Savory Farmers Market at Travisso
3-7 p.m. Wednesdays
Wolf Ranch Farmers Market
8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays
Old Town Leander Farmers Market
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays