Eat like an Eagle

By / Photography By Susan Sommer | July 23, 2016
Share to printerest Share to fb Share to twitter Share to mail Share to print

Imagine eagerly doing something every day, several times a day, your entire life, that causes physical discomfort, chronic illness and even disease. David Chessik, physically fit when younger, caught a sideways profile of himself in the mirror one day while working as an attorney in Las Vegas. He was pushing 300 pounds. He decided he needed to make a change if he didn’t want to die young so he put his career on hold and together with his girlfriend, Daiva Gaulyte, moved to an Alaska wilderness island, where he had a small beach cabin. They collected herbs and seaweeds, grew a garden, fermented everything and adopted nose-to-tail eating.

Daiva, originally from Lithuania, had grown up eating wholesome food from the land. She was delighted upon arriving in Alaska that it offered abundant edible resources like wild fish, lean moose, a plethora of spring greens and a variety of berries, but she was surprised that most people didn’t take advantage of these treasures. She was also horrified to see people throw away the best, most nutritious parts of the fish—the heads and spines, much higher in collagen protein than is muscle meat. Collagen-dependent structures in the human body include skin, hair, nails, lining of the digestive tract, veins and arteries, fascia, bones, joints, cartilage, spine and organs.  

Daiva was used to cooking soup from pork, chicken and fish bones and started making Alaska salmon broth right away from the heads and spines. “It was so delicious,” she said. “I was very excited telling others about it, but not too many people were as excited as me. They just thought I was weird.”

She enrolled in the Nutritional Therapy Association’s training programs to become a nutritionist and her enthusiasm for a renatured diet grew. The couple’s new way of eating brought positive physical changes: David’s heartburn disappeared, he slimmed down, skin rashes cleared up and a dry eye issue resolved. Reading glasses became a relic. His transition, however, wasn’t easy. 

“Daiva developed an enthusiasm for the project that was unrelenting,” he said. “She could hear crinkling cellophane from an impossible distance, and always stood ready to redirect me to a fermented vegetable. There was no deceiving, the smell of my breath, the look on my face or some tiny crumb of food gave me away, until it was just easier to walk the straight and narrow.” 

Fish broth created the most immediate positive benefits in how they felt. David could feel his body thanking him when he had his morning cup; it brought a sense of calm and relief.  

King Salmon Head
Nettle Patch
Photo 1: Preparing king salmon heads for use in fish broth.
Photo 2: A patch of wild nettles.

Pay attention to what wild animals favor, counsels the pair: “fish heads and organs over the fillet, and when there is abundance they eat the heads, strip the skin and leave the muscle meat. Ask a bear, ask a seal, ask an eagle.”

David and Daiva have made their passion for natural eating into their livelihood. Daiva teaches classes on how to make broths, how to ferment vegetables and how to use Alaska’s abundant herbs. She also hosts week-long foraging boot camps at Further, they’ve turned their love for fish broths into a business called Alaska Broth Company. Their broths can be found nationwide at, and in Alaska at 3 Bears and Natural Pantry. David and Daiva make their broth as a joint venture with Copper River Seafoods.

For recipes, visit

Article from Edible Alaska at
Build your own subscription bundle.
Pick 3 regions for $60