The 12th Annual Wild About Game Festival hosted by Nicky USA was a Pacific Northwest competition this year – pitting celebrated chefs from Portland against beloved chefs from Seattle. Seattle nearly swept the competition, winning every category with exception to People’s Choice and battle rabbit. Each pair of chefs was given a mystery protein and they competed against each other impressively with their hometowns in mind. The line-up included Gregory Gourdet of Departure vs. Nathan Lockwood of Altura, Jenn Louis of Lincoln vs. Cormac Mahoney of Madison Park Conservancy, Chris Israel of Gruner vs. Johnathan Sundstrom of Lark, and Chris Carriker of the Gilt Club vs. Carrie Mashaney of Spinasse.

Altura’s Nathan Lockwood won the competition with his “Roosevelt Elk Crudo” complete with offal pasta and elk tartare. Elk was popular among the crowd as well, Chef Gregory Gourdet of Departure won the “People’s Choice” award with his slow cooked elk, smoked heart pie, parsnip, huckleberry, wasabi leaf and shiso dish.

The 2012 Wild About Game judges included Portland Monthly Magazine’s Ben Tepler, Seattle Met’s Allicia Vermillion, Wild About Game cookbook author Janie Hibler, and national freelance writer Amy Pennington. The 300 Wild About Game attendees also sampled each dish and voted for their favorite.
2012 Wild About Game Award-Winning Chefs:

  • Overall Winner – Nathan Lockwood, Altura, Seattle, WA – Cavatellie and “Roosevelt Elk Crudo”
  • People’s Choice – Gregory Gourdet, Departure, Portland, OR – Slow cooked Elk Tenderized in Orchard Milk, Fried Smoked Elk Heart Pie
  • Quail Winner – Cormac Mahoney, Madison Park Conservatory, Seattle, WA – Wood Roasted Quail on Autumn Hash of Tails and Trotters Pancetta Lobster Mushrooms,Yakima Sweet Cream and Olympic Huckleberries
  • Rabbit Winner – Chris Israel, Gruner, Portland, OR – Rabbit Choucroute: Rabbit Boudin Blanc, Speck Wrapped Rabbit Loin, Braised Hind quarter, Champagne braised Saurekraut
  • Pheasant Winner – Carrie Mashaney, Spinasse, Seattle, WA – Pheasant Capunet with sweetbreads and huckleberry
  • Elk Winner – Nathan Lockwood, Altura, Seattle, WA – Cavatellie and “Roosevelt Elk Crudo”

Chefs also demonstrated some impressive techniques using Nicky USA products.  Gregory Denton of OX wowed the crowd with his Foie Gras Marshmallow; Anthony Cafiero of Ración used Tails and Trotters to create a souvied cheek, a pickled tongue and a pork belly powder; and Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez prepared a dish with Nicky Farms Water Buffalo.

2012 Wild About Game Cook-Off Chefs:

·      Gregory Gourdet, Departure,

·      Nathan Lockwood, Altura,

·      Jenn Louis, Lincoln,

·      Cormac Mahoney, Madison Park Conservatory,

·      Chris Israel, Gruner,

·      Chris Carriker, Gilt Club,

·      Johnathan Sundstrom, Lark,

·       Carrie Mashaney, Spinasse,

Vendors and sponsors at this year’s Wild About Game included:

Anderson Ranch Lamb, Cheese Bar, Chop Butchery and Charcuterie, Fermin Iberico de Bellota, George Packaging Hazelnuts, Nicky Farms, Manchester Quail, Grimaud Farms, Manchester Quail, Grimaud Farms, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, The Meadow, Macfarlane Pheasant, Nueske’s Bacon, Olympic Provisions, Painted Hills Natural Beef, Portland Creamery, Salt and Straw, Snake River Farms, Tails and Trotters Hazelnut Finished Pig, Viridian Farms, Wapiti River Elk, Xocolatl de David, Beam Spirits, Burnside Brewery, Dry Soda, Double Mountain Brewery, Erath, Fausse Piste, House Spirits Distillery, Libra, Patton Valley Vineyards, Penner Ash, Stumptown Coffee, and Willamette Valley Vineyard.