July 1, 2013
AURORA, Ore.—Top Portland and Seattle chefs--including Greg Denton ( OX, PDX), Chris Carriker (The Gilt Club, PDX), Jenn Louis (Lincoln/Sunshine Tavern, PDX), Gregory Gourdet (Departure, PDX), Phillipe Thomelin (Olivar, Seattle) and Jonathan Sundstrom (Lark, Seattle)—shot shotguns and archery equipment and learned about hunting and fishing opportunities in Oregon yesterday at the Nicky USA Farm in Aurora, Ore. The “Meat, Greet and Skeet” event kicked off a new effort by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) to introduce foodies to hunting and fishing.
The event marked the grand opening of Nicky USA’s new farm in Aurora, which will raise rabbits and specialty poultry and game birds. The chefs shot skeet with 20-gauge firearms, got familiar with archery equipment, and also shot traditional blackpowder muzzleloaders with the Willamette Long Rifles Blackpowder Target & Shooting Club. ODFW began the event with an overview of firearm safety and provided the 20-gauge firearms and bows and arrows that chefs used.
For many of the chefs, yesterday was their first time shooting a firearm or using a bow. ODFW regularly teaches newcomers how to hunt and fish through its ODFW Outdoors program. Hundreds of adults get their first hunting or fishing experience, in a safe environment designed for beginners, by taking one of its classes. Each year, 6,000 kids also learn to safely handle firearms by taking its Hunter Education class.
More and more, adults coming to these classes are citing their desire for local, organic meat and a DIY (Do-it-Yourself) ethos as their reason. “It doesn’t get any more free range than wild game meat, or more personal than when you hunt for your dinner yourself,” said ODFW Outdoor Skills Coordinator Mark Newell. “More and more people at our clinics are telling us they want to kill their own meat and be a part of every step until it gets to their table. They want a personal connection with their food.”
Portland chefs are already known for their attention to ingredients and for serving food from local sources. The city and Oregon have become known worldwide for gastronomy that insists on local ingredients and a personal eating experience.
Nicky USA supports this community by connecting chefs with local farms and with meat that has been raised in a humane, environmentally-friendly way. With the grand opening of their farm, Nicky USA will be the only Pacific Northwest meat distributor to raise its own meat, a business model that fits Portland’s food ethos.
Besides distributing farmed game meats to some of Portland’s top restaurants, Nicky USA also sells to customers at its butcher shop in Southeast Portland and hosts an annual “Wild About Game” cooking event at Timberline Lodge, pitting chefs from Portland and Seattle in a cooking competition. “Hunters come to my shop for meat when one got away that season, or to learn how to prepare and cook their meat,” explains Latham.
Under laws meant to conserve wildlife for the long term, hunters are not allowed to sell the meat they harvest. So Nicky USA distributes (and restaurants serve) game meat from farmed animals. But Latham says his business wouldn’t be here without hunting and fishing. “This Meat, Greet and Skeet event, along with the opening of Nicky Farm, are my attempts to connect chefs even more deeply with the source of their protein,” he said.
Yesterday chefs also heard how by hunting and fishing, they can also support Oregon’s fish, wildlife and their habitats. Hunters and anglers are major financial supporters of fish and wildlife conservation in Oregon and across North America, thanks to the money they spend on licenses, tags and equipment, These dollars fund the monitoring of fish and wildlife populations, improve thousands of acres of habitat each year, and help sustain the tens of thousands of acres of wildlife areas and refuges that provide a home for Oregon’s fish and wildlife and a place for everyone to enjoy the outdoors.
Sunday’s event kicks off additional programs targeted at foodies, DIY types, and “locavores” (people who want food from local sources). ODFW will be a bronze level sponsor at Feast Portland, a Sept. 19-22 food festival with top chefs and culinary stars, with staff on hand to talk about hunting and fishing opportunities. Later in the year, ODFW will co-host several hunting/butchery clinics with the Portland Meat Collective, and organization that teaches butchery classes.
Registration is open now for several hunting and fishing classes scheduled for summer and fall of this year and ODFW’s “how-to” information- can help you get started hunting and fishing right away. See the ODFW Outdoors website for more information http://www.dfw.state.or.us/education/index.asp
Chefs at the Meat, Greet and Skeet event (Portland restaurants unless otherwise noted)
Ben Bettinger- Imperial
Andrew Biggs- Hunt and Gather Catering
Phillipe Boulot- Multnomah Athletic Club
Chris Carriker- Gilt Club
Anthony Cafiero- Racion
Matt Christiansen- Urban Farmer (at The Nines Hotel)
Camas Davis- Portland Meat Collective
Greg Denton- OX Restaurant
Erik Erikson- Stumbling Goat
Gregory Gourdert- Departure Restaurant and Lounge
Kimber Hoang- Magenta (Corvallis)
Michael Hoffman- Matchbox Lounge
Jenn Louis- Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern Restaurants
Damian Magista, Bee Local
Patrick McKee- Paley’s Place
Tony Meyers- Serratto
Rodney Muirhead- Podnah’s BBQ
Josh Scofield- Toro Bravo
John Sundstrom- Lark (Seattle)
Philippe Thomelin- Olivar (Seattle)
PJ Vang, Bamboo Sushi
Rianna McKay- Friend of Nicky
Ruby Nichols- Friend of Nicky
Molly Preist- Friend of Nicky