The Fiddlehead Restaurant & Bakery, which used to be in this building now occupied by the Sandpiper Cafe, is the inspiration for a pop-up restaurant fundraiser scheduled Oct. 21 on behalf of the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The Fiddlehead Restaurant & Bakery, which used to be in this building now occupied by the Sandpiper Cafe, is the inspiration for a pop-up restaurant fundraiser scheduled Oct. 21 on behalf of the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Fiddlehead Restaurant & Bakery to return as pop-up for SEALT anniversary

All money raised will go to the land trust’s Acquisition Fund.

This story has been updated to correct the names of the restaurant’s founding partners.

The sold-out Southeast Alaska Land Trust fundraising event on Oct. 21 will honor 28 years of land conservation, community and local culinary history, thanks to a pop- up of the former Fiddlehead Restaurant & Bakery.

It’s been a long time coming, according to organizers.

“We planned it for March of 2020, and it’s been rescheduled and rescheduled,” said Deborah Marshall, who started the land trust with a 501(c)3 in 1995 with a group of volunteers. The main culprit for the delay was COVID-19, which took SEALT’s 25th anniversary completely off the stove.

But they always planned to tie it to a pop-up of the former Fiddlehead Restaurant. Marshall, the link to both restaurant and land trust, said it was someone else’s idea when they were looking at hosting a 25-year milestone event. This year’s dinner and auction, with 300 attendees, will be held at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.

Marshall opened the restaurant with partners Lydia Marshall and Scott Miller in 1978 and sold it in 1999, although it continued in operation until 2004. The Sandpiper Cafe has occupied the space since then.

The cookbook, “Fiddlehead Cookbook: Recipes from Alaska’s Most Celebrated Restaurant and Bakery,” in print 32 years, has lived on. Its authors are Marshall, Nancy and John DeCherney, and Susan Brook.

“It was definitely a team effort,” said Marshall, noting all four of the authors were chefs in the restaurant.

Attendees of the dinner and silent auction on Saturday will be served spinach cashew raisin salad, salmon veronique, and brown rice salad — all recipes from the cookbook. Sunflower-millet bread baked by Breeze Inn also will be featured, Marshall said.

The cookbook was first published in 1991 by St. Martin’s Press, which reissued it for the 10-year anniversary in 2001, with one important update. More about the change in a minute.

The first property conserved by SEALT, in 1998, was the Jensen-Olsen Arboretum. Since then the group has permanently conserved 23 sites throughout Southeast Alaska, a total of 3,600 acres. In the mix are wetlands, recreation lands, wildlife habitats, open space, and subsistence lands, said Ceona Koch, outreach and development specialist with the organization.

While the organization’s reach is throughout Southeast Alaska, it is highly visible here.

“Juneau residents will be familiar with several areas close to home where SEALT has parcels, including the Mendenhall Wetlands, Vanderbilt Creek, Auk Nu Cove, and Montana Creek,” Koch said.

The funds raised from the Oct. 21 event will go to the conservancy’s Acquisition Fund, which was established in August 2022. The goal announced at the time was $250,000, and as of Wednesday it was at $135,699, Koch said.

“That’s about 54% percent,” she said.

But it doesn’t include proceeds from tickets, which were $125 each, or whatever is generated from the auction. Desserts, also out of the cookbook, will be auctioned off, along with a couple of other non-edible items. Asked whether they anticipate reaching the goal, Koch said, “that’s the plan.”

About 30 people are contributing desserts to the auction, including former Fiddlerhead bakers, Marshall said. “It’s baker’s choice.” The highlight of desserts is the North Douglas Chocolate Cake, which over the years has become the best known of the Fiddlehead confections. There are likely to be four of them available to the highest bidder.

A carving done by Matt Robus, a SEALT board member, will also be auctioned off. It is of the lesser yellowlegs, a grayish-brown shore bird with bright yellow legs. “It is an important water bird, and a ton of our properties conserve wetlands and intertidal zones,” said Koch.

The other items to be auctioned off are first edition hardback copies of the cookbook, which leads back to the one change made when the book was reissued.

“That these are original can be confirmed by an error that came out when the book was reissued in 2001,” Marshall said.

“It’s on page 74 in the recipe for salmon mushroom quiche,” said Marshall. “The recipe tells you to put in 12 cups of half and half, instead of half a cup.” The slash between the 1 and 2 was missing. “When we were selling the books in the restaurant, they had a paper insert with the errata,” she said.

That makes the first edition books more valuable, she said, adding that she has seen them online for $50. Ten of the books, signed by all four authors, will be available.

For more information about Southeast Alaska Land Trust visit https://www.southeastalaskalandtrust.org. People interested in adding their name to the waitlist for the fundraiser can contact info@sealt.org or (907) 586-3100.

• Contact Meredith Jordan at meredith.jordan@juneauempire.com or (907) 615-3190.

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