Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted preview: Alaska’s Panhandle boasts perfect cocktail glacial ice, seal bits, and amazing King Salmon

Gordon Ramsay and Chef Lionel Uddipa
Gordon Ramsay and chef Lionel Uddipa create a sumptuous feast for lucky local fishermen with salmon, seal, halibut, and spruce tips. Pic credit: National Geographic Channel

The finale of National Geographic Channel’s Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted airs this Sunday, as Gordon journeys to the southeast Alaskan panhandle. This resource-rich narrow strip of islands is exposed to all the elements, and it is a sea whipped expanse and a brutal environment that Gordon calls “bloody cold” with apex predators all about.

But with great risks comes rewards as the entire area is a bounty of incredible ingredients for a savvy chef.

Ramsay journeys to the rugged Panhandle to learn survival skills and discover regional Alaskan cuisine. He gleans a lot of intel from the locals and then applies this knowledge for a feast with legendary local chef Lionel Uddipa.

The intrepid chef and Scotsman is game for it all. In this episode, he will hunt grouse, scale cliffs for a special fungus, fish for King Salmon, and learn the art of serving seal guts. It’s a great all-American wilderness finale for a run that took us from Morocco to Laos.

Gordon meets with Lionel Uddipa, an executive chef in Juneau who is a master of Alaskan ingredients. “Lionel lured me up here with the promise of an incredible meal…” says Gordon, who keels over in the snow on their initial hike.

Gordon is fit, mind you, but then there’s Alaska fit, and Ramsay needs a bit more training.

Some salmon belly, mushroom tea, and moose sticks to replenish, and Gordon and Lionel will hatch a plan to have Gordon cook for local fishermen. Lionel also cautions Gordon about the bears. It’s Alaska and there are always bears.

Juneau (pronounced Hoo-nah) is home base as Gordon meets with local fisherman Josh and learns brown bears outnumber people in the immediate area. More on him after the first physical challenge for Gordon.

Old man’s beard (Chaga mushroom) is a fungus up in a tree on a cliff and it’s the first scavenger task for Gordon.

Local Alaskan forager Alan Gordon takes Gordon to Chimney Rock, where they scale 60 feet of sheer rock face during a snowstorm to harvest this delicacy.

The volatile chef is pretty strapping and he climbs the rock pillar at the edge of a rough sea to fetch this tea delicacy. “If you are not prepared, boy, it’s going to take you down,” he says about navigating America’s wildest state.

Gordon scaled a 60 foot cliff above a roiling sea to get this fungus for tea! Pic credit: National Geographic Channel
Gordon scaled a 60-foot cliff above a roiling sea to get this fungus for tea! Pic credit: National Geographic Channel

Juneau is home to a large indigenous native Alaskan population, and only native Alaskans can hunt certain mammals, like seal.

One of the most eye-popping things you will witness in this finale is Gordon blowing into the bronchial tubes of a seal’s lungs to inflate them so they are more tender to eat.

He also gets a lesson in seal intestine braiding.

The locals say it tastes goo, but it was not part of the final menu we notices... Pic credit: National Geographic Channel
The locals say it tastes good, but it was not part of the final menu we noticed. Pic credit: National Geographic Channel

These native people have a special recipe for the flippers too.

Have I lost you?

Come back, there’s so much deliciousness in this episode. We promise! Let’s talk King Salmon. More appealing than an inflated seal’s lung, right?

Gordon heads out to fish with Josh and learns how to properly bait a sharp hook. He casts a line and learns a terrible lyric set to the music of rock classic Wild Thing from Josh. “Wild King, you make my heart sing…” sings Josh. Then he shares his special bear mauling story and Gordon turns grey.

The guys catch no fish, but luckily Josh has a spare King in the cooler. Gordon scales and guts the fish and tells him they’d be selling it for up to 90 pounds a serving, and over 500 pounds just for one fish. Of the prized King Salmon, Gordon says: “It’s that rare.” Gordon tasks Josh to catch another King Salmon to be the centerpiece for his planned feast.

My favorite part of this episode?

The hunt for the perfect cocktail ice cube from a glacier on an Alaskan fjord.

The glaciers have the purest ice imaginable and it is simply perfect for a craft cocktail.  My new spirit animal is Michelle Costello who is known as “The Ice Queen”  as she mines local glaciers for this crystal-like pristine cocktail ice. The two set out to lasso a free-floating iceberg and turn it to jagged diamond-like ice cubes for cocktails.

“This is the most work for a f****** ice cube I have ever done in my entire life,” jokes Gordon. We appreciate his efforts.

The stunning menu includes Gravlax served with a honey mustard sauce, cured with a compound of mashed Juniper berries, gin, and spruce tips. A chowder with octopus, halibut cheeks and pork fat, and an Alaskan board of smoked black cod served with creme fraiche, horseradish and pumpernickel toast grilled and potatoes roasted in seal fat. The main dish is salmon fillets cooked in beurre blanc with a bit of seal bacon and a side dish of potatoes.

The chefs get the highest marks for not overcooking the salmon which is why these local fishermen refuse to order salmon in restaurant noting the two men did it just right. Cue the smiles.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted finale airs this Sunday, August 25 at 10/9c on National Geographic Channel.

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