Many people not from Alaska often find themselves here unexpectedly. Some followed careers or perhaps family members. Lamar Sloss followed his heart.
“I came up for a girl,” Lamar said. “I never planned on staying, but when life happens and good opportunities come, that’s just kind of how it works.”
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Lamar thought his Alaska adventure would last a year… Seven years, three children, and a cheese shop later, the chef finds himself enjoying life with his young family in the 49th State. Lamar would tell anyone who doubted his move to Alaska that he could always go back home if it didn’t work out.
“But it’s working out. So, I don’t know if I’ll ever go back,” Lamar said. “To visit, maybe. But this is home for sure.”
Just like his Alaska life, Lamar didn’t plan on cooking for a living either. He was a business student in college with hopes of working in finance. That changed when in Nashville and then in Anchorage, he found success as a chef making crepes.
Today, Lamar is the chef-owner of Fromagio’s, a beloved artisan cheese shop in Anchorage known for specialty cheeses, charcuterie plates and sandwiches.
“I’m still kind of taken aback sometimes that I’m in this world and people call me ‘chef,’” the 32-year-old said. “But I look back now, and I’ve always been cooking. From my grandmother to my mom cooking Sunday dinner or dinner throughout the week, food has always been a big part of my life.”
Lamar didn’t know what to expect when moving to Anchorage. Having grown up in a racially diverse suburb in Tennessee, he says he sees diversity in Alaska as well. The main difference he’s noticed is that racism in Tennessee can be more overt. For example, removal of a Confederate statue in 2021 drew attention to a Tennessee law protecting such statues.
“Up here, you’re a little more accepted just for being hardworking and what you do versus the color of your skin because it is so diverse up here with Alaska Natives and a lot of military presence. You got everybody up here,” he said.
Still, Lamar is getting used to being a representative and role model for people who don’t picture someone like him, a young Black man with dreads, holding his position.
“Most people don’t think that I am the owner of the shop,” Lamar said. “I can see myself being that example for my kids or other kids of color or anybody really. That’s a good position to be in.”
To Lamar, following your heart will always lead you to exactly where you’re supposed to be.