Current Residency: Denali National Park, AK
Occupation: Owner/Chef, 229 Parks Restaurant
Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Laura Cole found her passion for cooking when she moved to Alaska after graduating college. Working in the kitchen of a lodge at Denali National Park, she immediately fell in love with the creative energy, humor and satisfying hard work found in kitchens. Laura then pursued advanced placement culinary programs at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, and the Escoffier Institute in Paris, before traveling the world working in kitchens all over the globe including Antarctica. When she was the Head Chef at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, she had to pull a sled to get ingredients with outside temperatures often reaching 50 below zero and colder. Laura ultimately decided to settle down in Alaska and fulfill her dream of owning a restaurant. In 2005, she opened 229 Parks Restaurant and Tavern, at the entrance to Denali National Park.Over the years as owner and executive chef, she has had the fortune and pleasure of developing fantastic relationships with small-scale farmers, ranchers, fishermen and women, beekeepers, and an assortment of artisans of Alaska's natural bounty. Between fishing, ranching, farming and foraging, she continues to push the boundaries to help identify a true Alaskan Cuisine. She has twice been nominated in 2016 and 2017 for Best Chef Northwest with the James Beard Foundation. Chef Laura hopes her time on Top Chef will give her the opportunity to collaborate with an amazing group of chefs and share some of what Alaska has to offer.