Run by British Game Alliance (BGA), supported by some of the top names in game shooting and judged by Rachel Carrie, Mike Robinson and Liam Stokes, the Game Chef Hunt unearthed some genuine culinary talent.
Inspired by the plight of homeschooling parents and young people stuck at home during lockdown, the BGA organised a cooking competition throughout January and early February. Anyone aged 21 and under could enter, sharing a game dish they had cooked themselves. With prizes on offer from Fieldsports Journal, Schoffel, Pressendye, Dylan Williams and Rachel Carrie, everyone expected the competition to be fierce. Yet the quality and calibre of the entries defied even those high expectations.
Liam Stokes, Mike Robinson and Rachel Carrie met to select the winners, and unanimously settled upon Ellie Phillips and her outstanding warm pheasant salad with winter veg and pickled blackberries.
Commenting on the winning dish, Mike Robinson said:
“I was delighted to judge this inspirational competition. All the entrants’ food was amazing, but Ellie’s extraordinary dish really stands out with such amazing flavours.”
Ellie beats at Dallowgill, a BGA Member Shoot keepered by Will Watson. While it was her pheasant salad that secured top honours, the judges were also left salivating by her remarkable chinese banquet of pheasant chow mein, venison in black bean sauce & pheasant satay bao buns.
In second place came Harry Jakubowski-Birch. Harry stalked a roebuck with gamekeeper Sid Vincent, and prepared it into a beautifully-presented venison rack with chocolate espresso sauce, charred tender stem broccoli and dirty mash potato garnished with autumn blackberries and butter fried pears.
The judges were dreadfully torn over third place, until Mike rescued them from their indecision by offering a spectacular fourth prize of a meal at either The Elder or The Woodsman. So third prize went to Finley Kwiecien-Scully, who at 9 years old prepared a Polish spicy venison stew that stood out among the entries as a colourful example of a cuisine that uses a lot of game but is not often featured in game cookery here in the UK.
The specially created fourth prize was given to Tilly Brooker, our youngest entrant aged 8. Tilly cooked pan fried orange duck breast on a duck fat potato Rosti. The ducks were shot whilst she was out with her family on their local syndicate shoot, where Tilly follows enthusiastically in the footsteps of both parents, shooting pheasants and ducks with her daddy and shooting a camera with her mummy. The judges thought the dish looked hearty and delicious, and well-photographed by Tilly.
Following a tough round of judging, Rachel Carrie said:
“Wow! what a tough job to have to judge such a selection of top notch game cookery!! My mouth watered the whole way through the judging process! Well done to everyone, a really colourful, diverse and (had covid allowed taste testing) I don’t doubt extremely tasty game dishes! – I was really impressed with the use of not just game but the well thought out local produce used throughout including Locally foraged mushrooms, berries and herbs, home Grown veg and eggs from neighbours, it was wonderful to see such thought go into the provenance of all ingredients well done everyone!”
Ellie Phillips the competition winner said:
“I am so happy to have won the competition, I definitely have a new appreciation to eating game and have really enjoyed coming up with different recipes that promote the use of such a tasty, sustainable and under appreciated source of protein.”
Liam Stokes said:
“I was delighted at the diversity of the entries. We saw experienced shots and practiced young chefs producing some really lovely looking dishes, youngsters joining their parents getting stuck into cooking with game, and some experimenting with game for the first time. This was a wonderful celebration of game cookery and youthful talent. Congratulations to Ellie, Harry, Finley and Tilly, and thank you to everyone who took part. I can’t wait for the next one!”