BruceSkis – Turkish Food in Girdwood
By Emily Maxwell
With the long days of Alaskan summertime comes outdoor adventure, music festivals and, of course, food trucks. This season, Girdwood’s local food truck scene boasts a new addition with BruceSkis, Bruce Ranke’s Turkish cuisine truck.
“I’ve been cooking for many, many years, and it seemed like the right time to start a food truck and the right place to do it here in Girdwood,” said Ranke.
After graduating from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 1998, Ranke spent the better part of a decade cooking in fine dining restaurants around Big Sky, Mont. While there, he fell in love with skiing and has been an avid skier ever since. This love was the inspiration for the food truck’s name, which for Ranke combines work and play.
“I want to work hard but still be able to get out and experience Alaska the way everybody should be able to. I like to be out in the wilderness.”
After leaving Montana, Ranke, who is also a fisherman, found himself in Cooper Landing and took a job cooking at Gwin’s Lodge. While there, he met his wife and BruceSkis co-owner Hayden. The pair settled in Girdwood and began a family. Ranke spent the next 12 years cooking at The Double Musky, an experience that he says taught him a lot about efficiency.
“I learned a lot about how to rapidly produce food that was good quality.”
While Ranke’s culinary repertoire casts a wide net, when it came time to decide on a particular cuisine to offer in his food truck, he saw Turkish cuisine as a yet-to-be-satisfied niche. Inspired by his sister-in-law Burcu, who grew up in Adana and Istanbul, Ranke developed a small but representative Turkish menu.
Adana, one of the most agriculturally rich areas in the world, is famed for its cuisine, with bright and fresh flavors, savory spices and its signature dish, Adana Kebab. “She influenced me a lot, I could contact her for questions about recipes. The chicken recipe I got was right from her.”
Authenticity and quality are important to BruceSkis, with Ranke putting in the extra effort to smoke his own eggplant for Baba Ganoush or to marinate chicken for two days for Sis Tavuk, BruceSkis’ signature dish.
“There’s quite a lot of prep work involved. It’s definitely not just fly-by-night Turkish food, I’m taking the time and effort to make a quality and authentic meal.”
This Saturday, BruceSkis will get its first taste of festival life at Anchorage Pride Fest. Look for them in front of the Crow Creek Mercantile during Forest Fair. The next festival event for the food truck will be the Seward Music and Arts Festival in late September.
BruceSkis made its Girdwood debut in early June at Girdwood Brewing Company, where it will serve vegetarians and meat eaters alike, every Thursday throughout the summer. s
“Next year I’ll be pushing to hit more of the festivals. This year I’m just feeling things out, seeing what works, mixing things up with the cuisine.”