|“Finest Dinner House in Alaska” (Alaska Magazine, 1989)|
Back in 1983 an original homestead was converted into a gourmet restaurant, Two Rivers Lodge, sixteen miles out on Chena Hot Springs Road. I was a waiter there for a couple of years, when it was arguably at the height of its reputation and one of the only three or four top eating establishments in the city (the others being the Bear & Seal, the Chena Pumphouse and A Moveable Feast).
In 1989, Head chef Tony Marsico put out a cookbook of his top fifty recipes, including his signature soups like Bisque of Smoked Salmon and Two Rivers Bouillabaisse with Rouille. He commissioned me to do a series of spot illustrations based on my previous moonlighting (in knickers no less) doing the menus and monthly Pub calendars for the old Clinkerdagger, Bickerstaff & Petts.
Though the Freeze-Frame cartoon feature had been running in the Fairbanks newspaper for a couple years I still wasn’t taking art seriously yet, basically only as a half-assed hobby. As awkwardly evident from these posted sample drawings, I was marginally better than high-school skill level, and using Flair pens, Xerox paper and Zip-A-Tone shading. But hey, the only thing to ever be ashamed about is if you haven't gotten any better.
|Creative Convergence: High & Low Art that's filling and satisfies.|
Still, it was good experience, and a small step along the meandering path into where I'm at today. Probably the most enduring lesson from this chapter was instilling a passion for baking cheesecakes at the feet of a master, Lodge co-owner and dessert maker extraordinaire Stasha Troutman. That and I took more damn art classes.