AIPT doesn’t mind a good cooking series now and then whether it’s Top Chef or Taste the Nation. Over the weekend, SeriesFest spotlighted a pair of culinary shows with a hunting twist. Episodes of Dead Meat from the Sportsman Channel and Farming the Wild from the Outdoor Channel were screened followed by a Q&A with the hosts, Scott Leysath and Mike Robinson.
In Dead Meat, Leysath travels the country searching for people who enjoy making the ugliest critters into something delicious. He comes across all manner of game meat such as rattlesnake, squirrel, and wild boar. In the screened episode, the executive chef hunts for stingrays and the invasive lionfish off the coast of Florida. The show does a good job of making these exotic proteins accessible by presenting them in familiar dishes including ceviche and tacos.
Robinson is an acclaimed chef with a Michelin star and is known prominently for his dishes featuring game meat. In Farming the Wild, he heads out into nature harvesting ingredients and hunting down animals in a sustainable way. Then at the end, he goes over a recipe to cook what he just gathered earlier in the show. The episode screened before the Q&A involved Robinson stalking deer. You grow some hair on your chest just watching him hunt, break down, clean, and cook his prey.
Coronavirus has stifled the production of both shows. Leysath was to travel internationally to Iceland and Canada for the new season but is now looking at a more local version of the show.
Robinson shoots Farming in the UK and initially he wasn’t permitted to hunt on the land he manages but as deer populations grew and moved closer to inhabited areas, he was allowed to resume his wildlife management. It was a tall task because of the pandemic; he had to do it all alone without the help of his 16 staff members.
The pair then discussed cooking tips and tricks they use for the show. When prepping the exotic proteins, confit and brining are the best ways to get rid of the muskiness. You also have to be careful with the scent glands because any puncture would ruin the meat. When it comes down to it, harvesting and preparation are the most important factor in reducing the gaminess.
The panel ended with what both hosts wanted as the main takeaways from their shows. Leysath just wants Dead Meat to showcase different cultures and lifestyles. He fondly remembers and episode centered on sucker gigging in Missouri and how it brought a little bit more awareness to something not as mainstream. He does confess not all the food he eats is good but at least he’s polite about showing his distaste.
Robinson has been pursuing his sustaining lifestyle for the last 20 years and hopes that Farming the Wild documents how managing wildlife can be beneficial to us and the animals. He wants to walk people through the entire process and considers his series more than just a hunting show.