Nicky USA’s Wild About Game, an annual celebration of all things game, took place on Sunday, September 7, at the historic Timberline Lodge in Timberline, Oregon. The Seattle vs. Portland cooking competition between eight celebrity chefs ended with Chef Shane Ryan of Matt’s in the Market restaurant in Seattle taking home the trophy as the Judge’s Choice with his rabbit dish. Ryan also won over the crowd of more than 500 attendees and was honored with the People’s Choice award, the first time since the annual cook-off started in 2001 that a single chef won in both categories.
Chefs from Portland and Seattle went head-to-head, each pair cooking a different type of game. Representing Portland were chefs Jason French of Ned Ludd, Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s, Josh Scofield of Toro Bravo, and Jin Soo Yang of Bamboo Sushi. Coming in strong for Team Seattle were Mike Easton of Il Corvo, Shane Ryan of Matt’s in the Market, Rob Sevcik of Loulay, and Jason Stoneburner of Bastille Café & Bar and Stoneburner.
The line-up was:
Squab: Bamboo Sushi Squab winner
Jin Soo Yang of Bamboo Sushi, Portland - Seared squab breast, caul fat wrapped foie, and squab tsukune with summer kimchee
Jason Stoneburner of Bastille, Seattle - Squab Cappelletti, confit leg, clear broth, chanterelles
Goat: Ned Ludd Goat winner
Jason French of Ned Ludd, Portland - Whey brined and braised kid, loin persillade, curried eggplant, blistered tomato, green coriander mint chutney
Mike Easton of Il Corvo, Seattle - Lemon and Castelvetrano olive braised goat ragu, with mint Gigli pasta, and house made mascarpone
Elk: Toro Bravo Elk winner
Josh Scofield of Toro Bravo, Portland - Sopa de Albondigas - Elk meatball soup with haricot verts and tortilla strips
Rob Sevcik of Loulay, Seattle - Roasted elk, black garlic corn bread, pickled blackberry, arugula purée and sherry gastrique
Rabbit: Matt's in the Market rabbit, overall and People's Choice winner
Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene's, Portland - Sagna Riccia, rabbit ragu, carrots
Shane Ryan of Matt's in the Market, Seattle - Bacon wrapped rabbit roulade, black garlic, chanterelles, summer truffle grits, huckleberries, rabbit nugget
The judges for this year’s competition were Samantha Bakall (Food & Dining writer, The Oregonian), Jessica Colley (New York City food writer), and Allison Jones (Online Editor, Portland Monthly), with Katie Okumura from the Tom Douglas Radio Show as the MC.
Throughout the day, attendees were able to sample dishes from the competing chefs, enjoy specialty food and beverages in the Artisan Marketplace, and get an industry insider perspective on the culinary bounty of the Northwest. The weekend celebration kicked off with a Grand Dinner the evening before the competition, by Jason Stoller Smith of Timberline Lodge and Aaron Barnett of St. Jack, the winner of Wild About Game 2013. As this year’s winner, Ryan will cook the Grand Dinner to precede Wild About Game 2015. Visit nickyusa.com for updates on next year’s competition!