Story and photography by Allison Jones
This weekend, Portland’s culinary A-team trucked their stretchy pants, game faces, and sausage grinders up to Mount Hood’s schmancy Resort At the Mountain for “alternative meat purveyor” Nicky USA'S 10th annual Wild About Game event. Nicky’s Geoff Latham emceed a meat-filled day of demonstrations, tastings, and an epic cook-off, complete with black boxes of secret game meat ingredients. Olympic Provisions’ Jason Barwikowski, Beast’s Naomi Pomeroy, Le Pigeon’s Gabe Rucker, Gilt Club's Chris Carriker, Fenouil’s Jake Martin, Metrovino's Greg Denton, Urban Farmer’s Matt Christianson, Serratto's Tony Meyers, and Seattle’s Seth Caswell of Emmer & Rye each selected a secret game ingredient at random and had two hours (and very little kitchen space) to make a mouth-watering dish for the star-studded panel of judges: Vitaly Paley (Paley’s Place), Philippe Boulot (the Heathman Restaurant and Bar), and Jonathon Sundstrom (Seattle’s Lark).
Gabe Rucker stole the show with his first-place crispy quail, Naomi Pomeroy (though, again, getting top marks for “tastiest” – See: Iron Chef judge fail) placed second with her pheasant pot pie, and Chris Carriker grabbed third with his caveman-sized venison rack and fresh sausage.
Attendees were treated to a room full of foie gras, grilled rabbit and venison, wagyu beef carpaccio, Viridian Farm’s legendary Padron peppers, cheese and charcuterie from PDX's Dream Team Steve Jones’ Cheese Bar and Olympic Provisions, as well as a show-stopping spread from Xocolatl de David (foie gras chocolate spread, anyone?). Morgan Brownlow of Tails & Trotters butchered a pig in front of a rapt and drooling audience, and plenty of Portland’s best chefs were also spotted sneaking bites, including Nostrana's Cathy Whims, Tabla’s Anthony Cafiero, Lincoln’s Jenn Louis, and Wildwood’s Dustin Clark. To top it all off, a buffet dinner featuring the best of the day’s game meats had everyone stuffed to the gills — er, antlers — for the drive back to the city.
· Wild About Game [Official site]
· All Previous Wild About Game Coverage [Eater PDX]