The Eat Game Awards 2019 are out. They include best shop, chef, pub and famers’ market.
Among them, judges from gunmaker Purdey and BASC’s Taste of Game initiative voted game chef Mike Robinson their champion of champions. Head of Taste of Game Annette Woolcock comments: “Mike, with his immense passion for wild game, makes for a great ambassador for this produce. He excels as a chef and is well known for his wild food cooking.”
Mike is executive chef at The Woodsman in Stratford-upon-Avon, and will soon join up with the Elder and the Jib Door Members Club, both in Bath. His new venture, the Owl Barn Larder, was also the winner of the best small retailer. During the coronavirus lockdown, Mike has been offering game recipes via Facebook, including this one, spring fallow venison with ratatouille:
The awards, now in their second year, include 13 categories. The ‘Champion of Champions’ award is voted on by a panel of judges, the ‘Best Teacher’ award is voted on by BASC Schools’ Changer project. The other categories are decided by a public vote.
Best Restaurant and Scottish Champion – The Caddy Mann, Jedburgh
The Caddy Mann is situated in the Scottish Borders. Owners, Ross, who heads up the kitchen, and Lynne offer seasonal ingredients from surrounding farms and local suppliers. Game dishes include wild rabbit confit with smoked partridge, Borders roe deer, game pie, seared Borders wood pigeon or Lammermuir grouse breast.
Best Pub – The Pheasant, Newbury
The Pheasant is a 17th-century coaching inn in the village of Highclere on the Hampshire and Berkshire border. Ryan and Billy Stacey took over the pub in July 2019 and have made it a favourite for shoot parties in the area. Head chef Ryan draws inspiration for his menus from high-quality local ingredients. Menu includes smoked pheasant, bacon, chicory and apple salad.
Best Chef – Tom Kitchin, Edinburgh
Tom is a Scottish chef and the youngest Michelin star winner. Together with his wife Michaela, he owns The Kitchin in Edinburgh. Tom’s dishes include roasted loin and braised haunch of roe deer from the Borders and a Borders game pithivier. Tom’s Meat and Game cookery book shows how to get the best out of game. He pairs the beautiful game flavours with seasonal vegetables to create simple dishes. Tom has a new YouTube channel.
Best Farmers Market – Hadrian’s Game Larder, Hexham
Hadrian’s Game Larder owner, Silver Sheldon, has been working in the game industry for over 20 years as a butcher, game farmer, baker and small-scale processor. She has been attending farmers’ markets with her ‘For the love of game’ brand for seven years. Silver is a great supporter of local businesses, using as much local produce as possible. On her stall you will find a wide range of fresh game, sausages, burgers, Scotch eggs, pies and terrines. Silver has a personal mission to educate people about game and regularly attends school education days.
Best Added Value Product – Wild Meat Company, Woodbridge
The Wild Meat Company have joined the winners’ podium for the second year. Last year, they won the Best Small Retailer category. The company, established in 1999, supplies healthy, natural meat from the Suffolk countryside – including venison, game birds, rabbit and squirrel. Their products include, boned and stuffed partridge and pheasant, pigeon ballotine, two- and three- bird roasts, game roulade, venison wellington, mallard ballotine, sausages and burgers. Owners Robert Gooch and Paul Denny are proud of sourcing venison, game birds, rabbit and even squirrel entirely from farms and estates in east Suffolk.
Best Large Retailer – Waitrose
For Waitrose and Partners, quality food is a way of life and it does not get any better than game. A wide range of game is marketed seasonally including pheasant strips, pheasant breasts, whole pheasants and partridge, and venison. Also, the Christmas range last year included partridge canapes.
Best Small Retailer – Owl Barn Larder
The Owl Barn Larder is part of Robinson Wild Foods owned by Mike Robinson. It specialises in producing the finest roe, fallow and muntjac deer for top restaurants and the public. They state: “sustainability and wild go together hand in hand, we work with nature, keeping the balance between man, environment and nature”. They sell £50 venison boxes, which include pave steaks, shoulder, striploin, mince, diced cuts and fillets.
Best Butcher – Hank’s Meat and Game
This is a family-run business with a simple ethos of providing good quality meats, from local suppliers. Their animals are sourced locally from selected farms. The welfare, texture and flavour of the meat give customers the confidence that their food will be delicious every time and more importantly where it comes from. Butcher, Tim Hanks, grew up as a gamekeeper’s son and has always been interested in processing wild game. In season, they offer stuffed partridge, wild boar sausages and pheasant cushions, alongside a wide range of game including pigeon, venison, rabbit and mallard.
Game Hero – Keith Watson, ‘Game for the table’
Keith Watson is the founder of the Facebook page ‘Game for the table’. It’s a public group which promotes the use of game meat in today’s modern kitchen. It features photographs of prepared meals, recipes and videos of game meat dishes posted by game enthusiasts. The page showcases recipes and answers questions posed by the members. The page has over 22,000 followers from all over the world. Keith’s passion is deer management and he owns Keith’s High Seats.
Winner of Winners 2018 – Tristan Prudden
Tristan was winner of 2018 Champion of Champions and has proved a popular winner by receiving the most votes over all the winners in 2018. Tristan is Head Chef at Constable Burton Hall in North Yorkshire. He aims to find new ways to cook and present game. He also shares ideas on how to use game at home with all visitors to Constable Burton Hall.
Best Teacher – Sue Verspyck
Sue was awarded the Best Teacher award by Taste of Game for excelling at the challenge to get her students cooking game through the Schools Game Changer Project. Sue is an assistant faculty leader design at Harrogate Grammar. Going that extra mile, she inspires her students to push themselves outside of the school curriculum. Her hard work has been truly rewarded with three of her pupils winning 2019 Game with a Modern Twist competition.
Dan Jago, Chairman of Purdey says: “Purdey and Taste of Game received an incredible number of nominations this year and those that went through to the final fully deserve their success and recognition. The Awards acknowledge wild game as a part of our heritage and there could not be a better time to support our small businesses; butchers, farm shops and game producers who are creating new ways for us all to enjoy wild game, particularly in these difficult times. Congratulations should go to everyone who was nominated.”