Mark South­ern, head chef of The Food­store in Auck­land’s Viaduct Har­bour, takes care of the sup­ply chain…

Element - - Cover Story -

Hav­ing just had the op­por­tu­nity to get out of the kitchen and travel around this amaz­ing coun­try – thanks to Mon­teith’s Wild Food Chal­lenge – I thought it only fit­ting to cre­ate a dish from wild nat­u­ral food.

I have cho­sen to use Rauku­mara Red, prime veni­son from red deer that live on the slopes of the Rauku­mara rain­for­est of the mighty Waioeka gorge.

It is suc­cu­lent and ten­der and has a del­i­cate game flavour as well as be­ing high in pro­tein and low in fat. It’s just a great prod­uct.

There are thou­sands of deer on the ranges and it is im­por­tant that the pop­u­la­tion be culled to keep numbers down to en­sure a food sup­ply for the re­main­ing an­i­mals in those ar­eas and that the nat­u­ral habi­tat of the rain for­est is not de­stroyed by over­feed­ing. Culling is car­ried out by pro­fes­sional hunters who do a great job by only tar­get­ing cer­tain deer (sex, age, area) at cer­tain times of the year to pro­vide a fan­tas­tic prod­uct.

I had the op­por­tu­nity to hunt these awe­some wild deer with the hunters down on the ranges. To­gether with three other top city chefs we were thrown in at the deep end. The steep slopes of the gorge and the dense for­est meant that it was like try­ing to find a nee­dle in a haystack, but fi­nally we struck it lucky. Great fun, but more im­por­tantly we saw the big­ger pic­ture of how the prod­uct gets to our kitchen from the wild. We all now have a lot more re­spect of food when we source it our­selves.

If you want to try Rauku­mara Red veni­son head to Neat Meat in Par­nell and the lads will sort you out.

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