Game and the way it is reared has been getting a lot of bad press recently. Now 101 of the country’s top chefs have come together in a new cookery book, made in Yorkshire, which aims to challenge that and celebrate ‘Glorious Game’. Catherine Scott reports.
What happens when an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a top chef get together to talk about their love of game? A cookery book featuring 101 of the country’s top chefs celebrating everything from rabbit and hare, to pheasant and partridge, that’s what.
The chef, Ben Tish, and the very private entrepreneur, David Ross, who owns a grouse moor in Yorkshire, were concerned about the increasing amount of bad press surrounding game and the way it is reared and killed, but also the lack of knowledge of how to cook it properly.
“People are scared of game,” says Tish. “But we all need to open up to eating game. Eating it could actually end up saving the planet in more ways than one. In an age of climate change, sustainability, dwindling food sources and obesity, game could be responsible for helping to tackle these problems.”
So armed with an idea, funding from the David Ross Foundation, and a contact book full of the UK’s most talented chefs, Tish approached Pool in Wharfedale-based Face Publications – the publishers behind such books as Michelin-starred Andrew Pern’s Black Pudding and Foie Gras.
Anthony Hodgson, owner of Face Publications, and Tish started to reach out to the chefs asking if they would give a game dish to the book, which sees all proceeds go to the Moorland Communities Trust and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. Both organisations exist to promote and protect the rural way of life that enables game to thrive.
The Moorland Communities Trust, in particular, works with rural communities including those on the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales. Many of the stunning pictures which adorn the gilded-edged pages of Glorious Game are of the Yorkshire countryside.
Initially, Hodgson was slightly over-awed by the task, not only of securing the support of more than 100 very busy chefs, but then the logistics of getting them to send in their recipes accompanied by equally beautiful photographs suitable for a high- end coffee table book.
The labour of love has taken two years, but Hodgson and Tish are very pleased with the result. “We had such a really lovely response from everyone we asked,” says Hodgson. “It has been really heart-warming that such chefs took the time and wanted to be involved. Brain Turner has been amazing.”
Although the book includes a lot of one and two Michelin-starred chefs, Hodgson says they were also keen to make sure accessible recipes were included in the book.
“We wanted it to look amazing of course and be aspirational, but we wanted to make sure that there were enough recipes in there that people could actually recreate at home.”
He cites Angela Hartnett’s wild boar fettuccine, Andrew Pern’s Shooter’s Game Pie and Tom Kerridge’s venison chilli.
As well as Pern, Yorkshire chefs include Frances Atkins, Josh Overington, Neil Bentinck, Simon Gueller, James Mackenzie, Michael Wignall, Brian Turner, Luke French and Murray Wilson.
There is also a recipe from the late Andrew Fairlie who died in January, before the book, which is dedicated to him, was published.
“Andrew was one of the nicest guys in the industry. We wanted to do a book together, but it wasn’t to be,” says Hodgson. “He wanted to be included in Glorious Game but only had the recipe half done.” His recipe for Perthshire roe deer, damson puree and toasted spices was completed and included in the book.
As well as 101 recipes, a photograph of the chef and a short biography of each one, Glorious Game celebrates the moors and dales where the produce is reared.
“We wanted it to be more than just a cookery book,” says Tish, and it definitely is a celebration of all things game.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about game and how the estates are managed, but there is no intensive farming. Game is often locally sourced and its carbon footprint is relatively small, with very few miles from ‘farm to fork’.”
Wild game is also truly organic. “It is incredibly healthy and chefs love it because of its seasonality. Wild game is organic and really not that hard to cook and doesn’t necessarily have the strong flavour that many people associate with it. We would just love to see more people eating it,” adds Tish.
David Ross, founder of Carphone Warehouse, says he is immensely proud that the David Ross Foundation (DRF) has been able to make Glorious Game possible. “There are over 100 recipes which show how versatile it is to cook with game. I am very pleased that all the proceeds from the book will go to support the Moorland Community Trust and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust,” he says.
Tish adds: “It’s a simple fact that the more we get behind game now, the easier to obtain and the more affordable it will become in the future and that is surely something we should be shouting about.”
Glorious Game costs £40 from www.facepublications.com/books/glorious-game, with all proceeds going to the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Moorlands Communities Trust.