Armed with a crossbow and leather apron, the ‘Hunter Chef’ serves foraged and wild game meals in Toronto.
Chef Michael Hunter, (aka, the ‘Hunter Chef‘) seeks to open the eyes of Toronto residents to the wild delicacies of the woods and fields.
Squirrel, pigeons, duck, Canada goose, and whitetail deer are served alongside maple sap to drink, morel soup, cedar-infused ice, and maple syrup pie. If this isn’t wild enough, the decorations include arrows and deer skulls.
The Hunter Chef forages or hunts nearly everything he serves to his guests.
This is how I live my life and how I like to eat…I feel very passionate about wild over farm or factory-raised meat…People seem to want local, healthy, organic food…It doesn’t get more organic than wild.
Hunter grew up on a Toronto horse farm, hunting foxes and turkey with his family. Now 30, he hunts with friends and family and forages with his kids.
READ MORE: Holiday Wild Game Recipe
Wild game cannot usually be sold in Ontario, or at Red’s Wine Tavern where Hunter is currently executive chef. However, he does hold events and charges guests for event rentals and labor costs. Guests at these events include other chefs, filmmakers, businesspeople, and food adventurers, and they can expect to pay $200 to participate.
For this particular gathering, the menu is varied. There’s wild duck prosciutto and whitetail deer bresaola, pickled wild leeks and pickled wild mushrooms, cedar jelly and maple mustard. Squirrel rillettes are slow cooked in fat and turned into a cold spread. Mushroom soup is served in a cappuccino mug with a truffle parmesan crema, made with dried and frozen morels foraged locally.
Nuisance pigeons from a friend’s barn and Canada geese are served two ways with ricotta cavatelli — sliced breast and as ragout in a dish rounded out by British Columbia fiddleheads.
The final and most prominent part of the meal includes racks of whitetail deer that have been crusted with a spice “ash” creatively made by burning and grinding cinnamon, star anise, clove, juniper berries, and cardamon.
The Hunter Chef believes the laws should be changed to allow permits to serve wild game.
Everyone has the right to eat natural food the way nature intended it be…I am concerned about where our food culture is going and I want to inspire others to take a natural approach to how we feed our families.
Cedar-Infused Ice with Pine Needle Dust
7 cups water
4 handfuls cedar leaves pulled from branch (about 2 cups), rinsed
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Finely grated zest + juice of 1 lemon
Pine Needle Dust:
About 1/2 cup pine needles, pulled from branch, rinsed, finely chopped
In large saucepan, combine water and cedar leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, discarding cedar.
Return cedar-infused water to pot. Add sugar; whisk until dissolved. (If needed, return to medium heat to help sugar dissolve.) Stir in lemon zest and juice.
Transfer to measuring cup or container. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
Add to ice cream maker; process as per your machine’s instructions. Freeze until ready to eat.
Meanwhile, for Pine Needle Dust, place finely chopped pine needles in coffee grinder reserved for spices or mini food processor. Process as finely as possible into “dust.” Transfer to small bowl. If time allows, let stand on counter for several hours to dry.
Serve Cedar-Infused Ice in small bowls garnished with Pine Needle Dust.
Makes about 8 servings.
Check out the Hunter Chef on Twitter @thehunterchef
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