Alaska Traditional Kitchen

The alaska traditional kitchen

The Alaska Traditional Kitchen (AKTK) is a project that originated within the National Resource Center for Alaska Native Elders (NRC-ANE) with the purpose of promoting traditional foods, stories, and Alaska Native ways of knowing. The kitchen's main goal is to provide a space where people can learn about and share traditional foods and the stories behind them, as well as the knowledge and wisdom of Alaska Native elders.

To ensure that the project is grounded in Alaska Native culture, it was essential that an Alaska Native chef be a part of this vision, and Chef Flora Deacon was chosen as the culinary and traditional foods expert. Flora is a skilled chef and a respected member of the Alaska Native community, and she provides valuable insight and instruction on traditional food preparation, as well as personal stories about each traditional food.

In 2024, the University of Alaska Anchorage's Dietetics and Nutrition department took over the project, recognizing its importance in promoting traditional foods, health, and wellness throughout Alaska Native communities. Assistant Professor Melissa Chlupach was appointed as the project manager for the kitchen. Melissa is a registered dietitian with a passion for Alaska Native traditional foods, nutrition, and health, and she is dedicated to bringing people together to share and learn from each other. Her primary goal is to promote traditional foods and their health benefits while preserving the cultural heritage of Alaska Native communities.


Melissa Chlupach

Melissa Chlupach
As a non-Indigenous person who grew up in Alaska on Native land, Melissa's work is part of a personal commitment to reconciliation. She strives to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to improve health through access to traditional and Indigenous foods.

She attended the University of Idaho and worked as a Regional Healthcare Dietitian at NANA Management Services for 12 years, where she supported food service contracts in Alaska and Arizona. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in UAA's Dietetics and Nutrition department and also serves on the Alaska Food Policy Council board. Melissa teaches a variety of courses, including Alaska Native Nutrition and Nutrition Through the Life Cycle.

Her most significant project is the traditional foods initiative in Alaska, where she collaborates with organizations such as the Alaska Native Medical Center and the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation to implement traditional food programs.

Flora Deacon

Flora Deacon
Flora is an Athabascan chef from Grayling, Alaska. Her late father, Wilson Deacon, was from Holikachuk, and her mother, Edna, was from Shageluk. Flora attended elementary school in Shageluk and Grayling before graduating from Chemawa Indian High School in Salem, Oregon. After working in accounting for some time, Flora decided to pursue her passion for cooking and earned an Associate in Occupational Studies from the New England Culinary School in Montpelier, Vermont.

Flora's interest in food as medicine led her to earn a certificate from the UAF Troth Yeddha’ Nutrition project in 2010. She later collaborated with Sarah McConnell to create an associate interdisciplinary degree in rural nutrition through UAF in 2013, which she completed in December 2018. Flora's current goal is to establish contacts and build relationships to promote traditional and local food through classes and recipe demonstrations.