Kinfood & Friends: Nelly & Michael Hand of Drifters Fish

Kinfood & Friends: Nelly & Michael Hand of Drifters Fish

Nelly & Michael Hand are husband and wife commercial fishermen who work together onboard a small boat sustainably harvesting wild Alaska salmon and sharing it directly to customers and chefs. 


What brought you into the world of food? How has this changed over time?

I grew up working every summer salmon season on my family’s fishing boat in Alaska. Michael and I started fishing together on a boat of our own about 8 years ago and started Drifters Fish shortly after. We were intrigued and inspired to be hands on in the full supply chain of providing the fish that we were catching direct to the consumers and chefs serving it at their table.

Over the past few years, it’s been a wild adventure figuring out all the pieces of the puzzle and feeling overwhelming gratitude at the hard work and dedication it takes to feed people wild fish. There is so much good that happens around a table or a smoky campfire and we’re honored to be a part of it. 


What does kinship in the context of food mean to you? How has food served as a connector for you? 

I think the thing I love most about being a commercial fisherman is the connection to wild places and a kinship with the ocean. I deeply appreciate the way the ocean provides wild food to nourish our bodies. 

What would you like consumers to know about ocean sustainability?  How can we eat fish in an ethical and sustainable way?  

When choosing salmon for home cooked meals, support your local fisherman and responsible fishing practices by asking for wild caught fish. Find good fish from a carefully harvested, sustainably fishery.

Cautiously managed for the protection and health of the wild surrounding ecosystem, I’m proud to work in a fishery anchored in stewardship and respect for its rich fishing waters. 

What is your favorite fruit and/or vegetable? And/or ideal meal?

My ideal meal is a piece of wild salmon, sprinkled with sea salt and dressed with a squeeze of meyer lemon, slow cooked over a fire outside. 


all photos by Camrin Dengel


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