Professor Kellie Puff cooks her way to the top of Alaska’s culinary scene
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Ever since Anchorage chef Kellie Puff was a little girl, baking was in her blood.
“I always wanted an easy-bake oven, it was the thing back in the day,” she said.
It wasn’t until her late 20s that she really started to develop a passion for it.
Then, one summer, Puff said she made some desserts for a high school reunion that everyone gushed over and asked where she bought them from.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I made them.’ I was so excited,” she said.
That same summer, the University of Alaska Anchorage sent out a catalog for its culinary arts program. Puff didn’t know the university had a program, but she took a tour and was hooked.
From there, Puff’s cooking career took off, landing her at places like Orso, Glacier Brewhouse and Kincaid Grill. She also ran the cooking school at Allen & Peterson and worked at the King Career Center for 11 years.
Now, serving as UAA culinary department chair and assistant professor, Puff splits her time between the classroom and kitchen. She enjoys helping her students connect the dots.
“I often get students who walk in on the first day and say, ‘I don’t bake, I don’t like to bake. It’s not my thing,’ and then by the end of the semester, they’re like, ‘Man, that was so much fun. I can’t believe it’s over,’” she explained.
Many still can’t believe — or even know — that UAA’s culinary program has been around for 50 years.
“We like to think of it as Anchorage’s best-kept secret,” Puff said.
Half a century later, Alaska’s culinary scene continues to fill up with students turned local chefs.
The culinary arts program at UAA is the only accredited culinary program in the state.
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