Bristol Bay Bulletin
Posted by : Christine Chyko /
In 2002, Stephen Kurian, a young arborist, and his then-girlfriend, Jenn, were offered a unique opportunity to work during the Sockeye Salmon season in Bristol Bay, Alaska. With full enthusiasm, they joined their respective crews. The two learned quickly and were soon able to hold their own among their seasoned peers. During the second year, the couple began working within the same fishing vessel: the F/V RJ.
Returning home to Pennsylvania with coolers of salmon for their friends and family, the couple realized that this was truly a unique product with great potential.
With just a chest freezer and their pick-up truck, the Kurians were determined to make a salmon-based business a reality. Jenn, an elementary school teacher, and Steve continued working their day jobs and began packing salmon portions and making salmon burgers in the evening. Pound-by-pound and month-by-month, they were slowly building their dream into a concrete business.
Steve and Jenn brought on a close relative and began selling their salmon products direct to their new customer base via their very first market: Forks Farm Market.
Not only was this a rare commodity on the east coast, but the Kurians quickly learned the whole-food benefits of wild sockeye salmon. They could offer this natural, sustainably harvested protein of superior quality. And because they fished the salmon, transported and distributed it themselves, they could consistently offer their wild salmon products at a competitive price. Soon word spread and folks across the mid-Atlantic were interested in the Kurians and their hard-to-find Alaska salmon.
After a few seasons the Kurians purchased the salmon fishing vessel they learned the trade on, the F/V RJ, and set out to take on the salmon business with full force. More markets, their first retail outlets, and their first restaurant customers highlighted these early days.
In the next few years Wild For Salmon saw impressive growth. Year after year the Kurians brought home more salmon, hired more people, honed their business skills, and then did it all over again.
They soon added to their salmon line to include Alaska whitefish and shellfish from a small network of fishermen they had met over the years. Offering rare treats like Halibut, Sea Scallops, Pacific Cod and Black Cod elevated the Kurians and Wild For Salmon into a new realm: Sustainable Seafood Retailers.
Markets were added to their schedule, a truck with a small freezer unit was added to their fleet, more retailers wanted to get their hands on a local company’s wild caught seafood, and in 2010 The Wild For Salmon Store was opened in Bloomsburg, PA, the hometown of Jenn and Steve Kurian.
They now had a state of the art facility, a truck to transport it all, and a growing staff with impressive knowledge of cooking techniques, seafood, sustainable foods, and Alaska salmon.
Today Wild For Salmon is an impressive force! Our team, including five fishermen, sits around 16 employees with more than half of them fully employed by Wild For Salmon.
Our store is fully staffed six days a week, and our two freezer trucks are on the road almost every day making deliveries and attending markets in every corner of the state. Dry Ice shipping is also a new addition at Wild For Salmon. Through learning and perfecting this process, we now ship frozen, wild-seafood products every week to individuals, retailers, co ops, buying clubs, and restaurants up and down the east coast for a continuously competitive value.
Although our company and product list has grown, Wild For Salmon’s commitment to wild-caught, sustainable seafood has not changed. We now carry over 25 species of strictly wild-caught, North American species from Halibut, Octopus, Gulf Shrimp, Albacore Tuna, to Black Cod, Scallops, King Crab and more! No piece of fish goes overlooked-- our highly skilled crew is constantly looking at and asking questions about the state of fish we purchase and distribute to our customers. We promise our customers will receive a high quality, great tasting experience every time, guaranteed!
And Wild For Salmon is always exploring options to make wild-caught seafood more accessible to our customers. These days, our Salmon can be found through Buying Clubs, farmers markets, CSAs, Co Ops, natural food stores, and restaurants throughout the mid-Atlantic. Chefs at north east PA locations such as the Inn at Turkey Hill, Turkey Hill Brewing Company, Bullfrog Brewery, Blind Pig Kitchen, Selin’s Grove Brewery, The Peter Herdic House, and Emma’s Food For Life eagerly dish up a variety of Wild For Salmon salmon, whitefish, and shellfish products.
Providing our friends, family, and neighbors with flavorful seafood isn’t the only thing keeping our team of fish mongers thriving; the fact that we can provide ease-of-mind and high quality, sustainable proteins to seafood lovers across the region has grown into a true joy.
Owner Jenn Kurian says it best, “As Wild For Salmon grows, we are eager to spread our message to the public. We created this business to provide natural, sustainably-harvested high quality salmon. We are proud to offer our catch of wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon because of its superior quality and essential function in mind and body health.”