Chef Cam Gets His Wild On
A few years back I was invited by the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance to be a guest chef at the Taber Pheasant Festival.
The gig was to show up in Taber, a town southeast of Calgary, observe a pheasant hunt and demonstrate how to prepare and cook the wild birds.
At first I wasn’t interested in the hunting part so much. But after watching the hunt I had to admit, it was pretty cool. Things really changed for me last year when I was invited to be part of the hunt itself and went through the process of getting my hunting license.
On that first hunt I meet some great people who took me under their wing (pun intended). They were happy to mentor me, not only on hunting, but also on animal and habitat conservation. I learned a lot about what we can do to minimize the impact on wildlife, even as industrialization of the land continues
Because of this experience hunting has kind of become a new passion for me.
When the festival rolled around again a couple of weekends back, not only was I a little more educated on conservation and hunting, I understood how closely they are intertwined. Real hunters care about the land and want animals to thrive.
At this year’s event our goal was to educate people on how to best use the animals we harvested. Cooking and hunting do go hand in hand, so there was a lot of interest in our demos.
I get that hunters aren’t chefs, although some of them are good cooks with great ideas. Taking the time to chat with hunters and have them understand what they’re cooking and how to cook it really opened some eyes.
Since I started hunting two years ago I have much greater appreciation when a slaughtered animal gets delivered to my restaurant door. I know what it feels like to sacrifice an animal and to thank it for supplying me with beautiful food and nutrition. I don’t love the killing of a creature, but I understand it, respect it and appreciate it.
I want to thank the landowners who care about Alberta’s habitat, and to acknowledge the efforts of biologists and conservationists and the hunters who respect the land and work to preserve it. The Taber Pheasant Festival was a great event to be part of and an amazing learning experience.
I’m already looking forward to next year.