Help these Norfolk and Suffolk businesses get to the top in national awards
- Credit: Archant
East Anglian chefs and producers nominated in the new Eat Game Awards.
Alongside a plethora of vegetables, pork, wine, beer and spirits, one of the very best products to come out of the eastern region has got to be game.
And yet, from venison to partridge, it remains a largely untapped wild resource, with just a select few consumers choosing to put it on their plate week-in, week-out.
In a bid to highlight the deliciousness of wild food, this year Purdey, Boisdale and Taste of Game have come together to launch the national inaugural Eat Game Awards in 2018.
There's great news for our fine counties as seven businesses have been nominated in various categories.
Chris Lee, chef patron of The Bildeston Crown in Suffolk (a huge champion of game) is shortlisted for 'Best Chef Regularly Cooking Game'. And he's in good company, ranking alongside Fergus Henderson, Tom Kitchin and Richard Corrigan to name a few.
As well as Chris, flying the flag for Suffolk (and the only woman in this category) is The Gamekeeper's Daughter Jess Noy – winner of Young Chef of the Year in our very own food and drink awards.
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'I am absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted,' Jess says. 'To be named in a category amongst such well known chefs like Richard Corrigan who I've grown up watching and admiring feels somewhat surreal!
'As my father is a gamekeeper, I was introduced to eating game from a young age, often being sent off to school with a packed lunch of pheasant sandwiches - much to the amusement of my friends. Now I'm using it as part of my business's unique selling point, incorporating game into my menus wherever possible alongside foraged and local produce.
'Game has had a bad reputation in the past for being overly strong, difficult to cook with and only good thrown into a stew, so my mission is to create modern recipes that get people excited to try game.'
The already award-winning Lavenham Butchers in Suffolk is in the running for Best Butcher thanks to the team's passion for sourcing hyper-local seasonal game. The butchery has one of the best selections of venison in the east on its counters and three of the team are qualified deer stalkers – shooting, cutting and dressing the meat for the shop themselves.
In the Small Retailer category is The Wild Meat Co, which has long been known for championing game food and like to offer something a little bit different alongside the usual birds and venison, including squirrel and hare, as well as game charcuterie and their own roulades and sausages.
Also in this category is Maisebrook Farm Shop near Beccles. As well as selling a range of local goods such as pies, cakes, preserves and sweet treats, the farm shop produces its own rare breed free-range meat including pure wild boar, Boer goats, poultry and saddleback pigs, stocking all these and more in their on-site butchery.Field to Fork winner in the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2018, Truly Traceable directors Lyn and Steve Tricker are delighted to be shortlisted in the Best Added Value category.
Lyn said: 'As a small business whose whole range of products are made from Suffolk game and most predominantly our own shot wild venison, we're proud to recognised for our efforts to change people's thoughts about eating game. We've gathered many fans of our products since we first started in 2014 and everyone has their own favourite whether it's a game pie, sausage roll or scotch egg! We're hoping the people of Suffolk will support us and the other candidates by visiting the website and casting their votes.
'We feel it's also important to point out that the Eat Game Awards are supporting the Country Food Trust. Their aim is to feed people in need using game meat casseroles and curries packaged in ready to eat long life pouches.
'In the first two years, they have helped to feed over 125,000 people and their aim is to feed 1,000,000 people in their first five years.
All proceeds raised on the awards night will go to the charity.'
Also nominated in this category is Norfolk Charcuterie, run by butcher and charcuterie expert Lisa Wheeler.
Lisa learned artisan food production under River Cottage's Ray Smith and set-up her charcuterie on the north Norfolk coast. She is an accredited sausage and pie judge, member of the Institute of Meat and tutors at Borough Market Meat School.
Amongst Lisa's products are some incredible salamis, made with venison from the Holkham Estate, in flavours such as orange and juniper, and fennel and black pepper.
Finally, Country Box Norwich is shortlisted in the Best Farmers' Market category. The mobile street food business, headed up by Wayne Harvey, dares to be different.
'We deal mainly in game meat because there was a gap in the market when we were setting up,' says Wayne. 'Game's not used enough and we've got some amazing sustainable venison in Norfolk that needs to be culled, and game birds being thrown away which is madness.
'Game is becoming a bit of a dying thing for youngsters to be eating. I'm only 29 and I don't come from a country background but I wanted to use these amazing products. We buy a lot of our game meat from Harveys organic butchers in Norwich who have nearly 100 years of experience.'
Wayne says his biggest seller is the venison burger, but his partner's favourite dish is the rabbit and black pudding Scotch egg. 'They go down really well,' he adds, saying about the awards: 'It was a massive shock to find out we were shortlisted. And it's such a huge achievement!'
See all the nominees and vote here.
Recipe: Pan-fried venison with blackberries and bay
See just how simple it is to cook game by rustling up this recipe from The Gamekeeper's Daughter, Jess Noy.
The dish serves two.
2 venison medallions
50g blackberries (reserving 10g)
1 bay leaf, torn
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
2 tsps quince jelly
200ml red wine
200ml beef stock
Salt and pepper
Oil for cooking
1 knob butter
For the celeriac crisps:
20g celeriac thinly peeled into strips with a Y veg peeler
In a small frying pan, heat 1tbsp of oil over a high heat. Fry the celeriac in the oil for one minute on each side or until crisp.
Remove onto kitchen paper, then keep warm in a low oven.
Wipe out the pan, then heat 1tbsp of oil over a medium high heat. Season the venison steaks liberally and fry for two to three minutes on each side.
Set aside to rest while you make the sauce. Turn the heat down and gently sweat the shallot in the fat for five minutes, adding a knob of butter and a pinch of salt. Stir in the quince jelly and vinegar and bubble for one minute. Stir in the cornflour followed by the red wine and stock. Add the blackberries and bay leaf and reduce the sauce till thickened.
Serve alongside the venison with the remaining blackberries, celeriac crisps, some celeriac mash and greens.