By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, MN Dassel may be about 3,000 miles from Alaska, but healthy Alaskan seafood is close to home.
Brandon Grochow, a 1997 graduate of Dassel Cokato High School, has a small business called My Alaska Seafood Connection, which allows customers to purchase salmon, cod, shrimp, and other tasty food directly from commercial fishermen.
“Seafood derived from Alaska comes from clean waters and sustainable fisheries,” Grochow noted.
Grochow currently has two store locations 431 2nd St. in Dassel, and 224 N. River St. in Delano.
“The Delano location is also the home of Crow Valley Market, owned by my sister, Melanie Gross,” Grochow said.
A native of Dassel, Grochow graduated from St. John’s University in 2001 with a degree in business management and a minor in environmental studies. After working at Wells Fargo in the Twin Cities for five years, he decided to explore a new area.
“I was looking to move out of Minnesota for new experiences and fell in love with Alaska not only the beauty, but the people and the lifestyle,” he said.
Alaska gave Grochow plenty of opportunities to hike, camp, and cross country ski with friends and his dog, Cash. He also volunteered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska program, and served as a board member for the ice rink and the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area. Another favorite pastime was taking his boat on the ocean to fish, sightsee, and whale watch.
At first, Grochow thought his Alaskan adventure would only be for one year, but it ended up being his home the next nine years. Grochow resided in Homer, a small community on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula that is centered around tourism and commercial fishing.
“My job as a business relationship manager introduced me to the commercial fishing industry, and I dedicated much of my time to learning how the industry worked and how I could help fishermen succeed financially,” he said.
Grochow quickly became an advocate for commercial fishermen, and developed relationships with fish processors.
When Grochow returned to Dassel in 2015 to be closer to family, he wanted to keep his Alaskan experiences alive. He also wanted to build an ethically-responsible business that provides something “good and healthy” for others to enjoy.
“High quality, wild-caught, healthy seafood was definitely lacking in this area,” Grochow noted.
Seeing an opportunity, Grochow began connecting consumers with fishermen. He also helps people learn about their food sources.
“One misconception consumers sometimes have is that all ‘fresh’ seafood is better than ‘frozen’ products,” he noted. “If seafood is properly handled, flash freezing at the docks ensures a consistent quality, which you can’t always find elsewhere.”
Most of Grochow’s customers are health conscious and/or “just love eating wild-caught delicious seafood.” Grochow stated that a minimum of two servings of seafood per week is recommended for health.
“Someone recently told me their philosophy of investing in good, healthy food now, in order to save on medical expenses later on,” he said. “Seafood can be intimidating to prepare, but I do my best to share great recipes and preparation techniques.”
Depending on the season, My Alaska Seafood Connection offers sockeye salmon, coho salmon, king salmon, black cod (sable fish), halibut, smoked coho salmon, smoked black cod, smoked and canned silver salmon, side-stripe shrimp, spot prawns, and rockfish.
For store hours and other information, find “My Alaska Seafood Connection” on Facebook or call Grochow at (907) 299-6057.