RECAP: A Wild Gourmet Experience

19 Nov

Gourmet Gone Wild logo

Our society enjoys plenty of meats and foods that come from animals, but a surprising number of individuals would tell you they have never tasted wild game. By wild game, I’m talking about food from deer, elk, grouse, pheasant or even local fish, among many others animal species, that aren’t your typical grocery store commodity.

Several weeks ago, regional young professional groups, including your very own MYPros, teamed up to bring Gourmet Gone Wild to Saginaw, and I had the pleasure of attending.

Gourmet Gone Wild is a Michigan-specific traveling event that aims to introduce young people to wild game, conservation and outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing. Backed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan United Conservation Club and Pheasants Forever, among other organizations, these events not only prove that wild game can be delicious, but also that eating wild game is a healthy and sustainable practice for local communities around the state.

Pour the wine! Gourmet Gone Wild staff serve Michigan beers and wines while regional young professionals enjoy food in the background. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood

Pour the wine! Gourmet Gone Wild staff serve Michigan beers and wines while regional young professionals enjoy food and socializing in the background. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

The menu for our event included:

– Mozzarella-stuffed venison (deer meat) meatballs
– Spicy curried pheasant wontons
– Salmon cakes
– Paw paw fruit panna cotta

One neat thing about this event was in knowing that all the food was harvested locally to our region or state. This idea of eating locally-produced food is known as the ‘locavore movement,’ which Gourmet Gone Wild exemplifies. The deer and pheasants were harvested locally, the salmon was fresh caught from Lake Michigan and I know nothing about paw paw fruit other than it is native to Michigan (and that it was pretty tasty in a panna cotta dessert). I’m no food critic, so I won’t try and explain how each food “interacted with my palate.” I will say that I went back for seconds on all the items…and maybe thirds.

Tasty tasty! The menu was a delicious combination of Michigan-harvested wild game and fish. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Tasty tasty! The menu was a delicious combination of Michigan-harvested wild game, fish and fruit. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

In addition, the wild game menu is paired with Michigan beers and wines. Most of the area’s young professionals can already attest to the deliciousness of Michigan-made adult refreshments, so I won’t go into details here either, other than to say they were tasty, of course.

To top off the night, wild game chef Dan Nelsen gave a quick presentation on how to prepare the venison meat ball recipe, including some tips/tricks for cooking venison, since the meat is leaner and dries out quicker than normal beef.

Wild game chef Dan Nelson gives a presentation on how to prepare venison meatballs. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Wild game chef Dan Nelson gives a presentation on how to prepare venison meatballs. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Being a hunter and fisherman myself, I appreciate Gourmet Gone Wild and their mission to introduce individuals to the outdoors and the eating of wild game. One thing about harvesting food myself, whether from Michigan’s woods, lakes or rivers, is that I have a greater appreciation about the food I eat and where it comes from. No, hunting isn’t for everyone. But I do believe that seeing the process through, from the woods to the dinner plate, is a rewarding experience and I encourage everyone to try it.

Are there any hunters or fisherman in MYPros that will be enjoying the woods or water this year? If you don’t hunt or fish, would you be willing to try it? Comment below!

If you are interested in Gourmet Gone Wild or the introductory hunting programs they offer to harvest food for their events, visit www.gourmetgonewild.org.

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