Wildlife Federation challenges community to cook-off

Published 7:07 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Selma residents who have never tried venison, duck, fowl, pheasant or other types of wild game, will soon have the opportunity to give these gamey entrees a chance.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation will host their annual AWF Wild Game Cook-Off on Thursday, November 1 at 6 p.m., at the historic St. James Hotel.

“The whole premise behind this [cook-off],” Tommy Tidwell, Alabama wild game cook-off coordinator said, “is to let people try game from people that enjoy cooking it and enjoy sharing it with other people.”

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Tidwell added the wild game cook-offs are a way for the AWF to introduce people to wild game, and “to let people know that wild game is good table fare,” he said.

The cook-off will take place right outside the St. James, overlooking the river, Tidwell said, and will have a fun, festive atmosphere with live entertainment and a silent auction.

In order for the cook-off to be a success, the AWF needs cook teams to sign up.

“We couldn’t do these events without cook teams,” Tidwell said. “We encourage any group, whether it be a hunting club, a group of friends, a business or even a restaurant to enter a cook team.”

The cook teams must provide their own ingredients, including the wild game and what ever they use to cook with. There is no fee for cook teams.

Tidwell said they give out four memberships to the AWF to each cook team, which includes a subscription to their magazine, among other things.

The cook teams will set up outside around the perimeter of the location, and people can go from table to table to sample the game.

There will be three categories: fish, fowl and game.

Cook teams can compete in one, two or all three categories, and first, second and third place prizes will be awarded for each. There will also be a People’s Choice Award, which is sponsored by the Alabama Army National Guard.

“The single highest scoring dish, regardless the category, will win the cook-off,” Tidwell said. “[That dish] will represent Selma and the West Central Alabama area at the state finals which will be held at [the AWF] headquarters.”

The judges will be people from the community.

“It’s just regular people. It’s not culinary (geniuses). We’re not looking for trained chefs to be our judges,” Tidwell said. “Just regular folks who come into a room, taste it, and tell us what tastes good.”

Tidwell said the competition is always pretty fierce. The AWF usually expects some repeat teams to compete along with some new cook-off teams, as well as some groups who travel from other cities who want to compete at more than their local cook-off.

“It just depends,” Tidwell said. “It’s kind of a mixture between the old and the new [teams].”

Tickets can be purchased online at alabamawildlife.org as well as from the Central Alabama Farmers Co-op at 874-9083, Dr. B.L. Youngblood at 872-2355 and from Maria Sloane at the AWF at 1-800-822-WILD.

Proceeds will benefit the AWF programs and projects. Each ticket includes one AWF membership, a subscription to the Alabama Wildlife magazine and as much food as people want to sample.

“I think people will be amazed,” Tidwell said. “A lot of misconceptions [about cooking and eating wild game] will be erased when they taste some.”