Hundreds flock to Wild Game Cook-Off

Published 11:56pm Friday, October 25, 2013

People came from all over to participate in the Alabama Wildlife Federation Wild Game Cook-Off Wednesday at the St. James Hotel.

Although there was a lot of competition between the 15 cook teams, many of the people involved were there for to see old friends, relax a little and enjoy sampling food from each table.

“Most of these guys cooking here aren’t here to win the contest and aren’t here to go to state,” co-organizer Tim Wood said. “They are here to have fun and support the Alabama Wildlife Federation and being responsible conservations. Whatever we kill, we are cooking and preparing and letting people enjoy it with us.”

A large crowd showed up for the cook-off with around 400 to 450 people sampling all kinds of food, including deer cube steak, quail and duck.

“We cleaned out our freezer,” Wood said. “We have wild hog, duck and quail.”

Although some were at the event for fun, others admitted they would like to take home a prize or two.

“There is always that competition to say you are the best in the area, but the best part is having a good time,” contestant Matthew Cooper said. “But, it is a competition. You don’t come out here for second place.”

The winner for best overall dish went to Jeff Verner’s Peppertree Pit Crew, who cooked bacon swiss stuffed quail. Not surprising, Peppertree’s quail also won first place in the fowl division.

Other winners included Marion Bank’s Wild Thangs, who took first in the fish division with their coconut catfish dish. First place in the game division went to Team OJ, who cooked venison. Best presentation went to Chonita’s Cookers and the people’s choice award went to Serial Grillers. All of the winners go on to the state finals in Millbrook next August.

Greg Smith, co-organizer of the event, said that people who do not think they like wild game should come out to the event next year and give the food a try.

“I’d say that people that haven’t come need to come and see what it’s like,” Smith said. “People who may not think they like wild game ought to come for the atmosphere and try something and they may become a fan of it.”

Tickets were $50, but included a membership to Alabama Wildlife Federation, the quarterly magazines and a chance to bid in the silent auctions going on at the event. All proceeds went to the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

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