As Managing Director of SieMatic UK, I have always taken more than just a business view of my work, the design perspective always being at the forefront. A number of my family were involved in design careers and it was no surprise that I therefore studied interior design. I began working for SieMatic designing studios around 40 years ago and worked to my present position as MD of a company which has grown to become one of the big players in the global kitchen market and which exports to 70 countries worldwide.
What’s the best – and worst – game dish you’ve ever eaten?
Being in the kitchen industry, I have a penchant for cooking and love preparing and cooking game shot by myself, one of my favourite dishes being BBQ butterfly haunch of venison (roe). I always hang deer in a chiller for seven days, then butcher the deer myself. For this particular recipe, I debone the haunch and remove the sinew, mix rosemary, salt, and garlic with olive oil into a paste in a pestle and mortar and rub this into, and over, the haunch. I then place the contents into a
plastic bag and leave overnight. The following day, I remove the venison haunch from the bag and bring to room temperature, removing any excess paste, before placing the haunch onto the BBQ to sear the meat on both sides. It is then placed on thick foil and cooked in a closed BBQ for 30 to 35 minutes. It makes a great centrepiece on the table for all to share!
The worst game dish I can remember having was in a restaurant in London. I travel and dine out frequently so when I visit a new restaurant and they are serving game, I like to see how they present the dish. This particular restaurant was advertising roast grouse and, it being late August, it would be rude not to participate in eating a bird I love to shoot. When the plate of grouse was served, I could see that it must have either been shot close to the grouse butt or the chef had tenderised it using a skewer. It was definitely an old bird so when the waiter came to collect the plate, I asked where the grouse had come from, just to be told “near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales” – where I live. So, I had just travelled 200 miles and paid £30 to eat half a grouse and for a Yorkshireman, that makes it even harder to swallow.
Is there any game you don’t – or wouldn’t – eat?
No! I enjoy all game meat. My father originated from Poland and came from a farming background so, from an early age, I can remember him telling me that back in Poland as a child he used to line bread crumbs up in the farmyard and, with a shotgun and fine shot, he shot sparrows which they would pluck and pan fry for breakfast.
The best shooting property you’ve stayed in?
I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to visit Stoneley Woods Manor in Pennyholme, Bransdale. Although I didn’t stay there, I accompanied a gun and loaded for him. Bransdale Moor is famous for being one of the best grouse moors in Britain, and the Wilkinson family take great pride in presenting the very best experience.
Your favourite chef that cooks game.
That would have to be the award winning French chef, Lionel Strub, at the Clarendon Hotel & Restaurant at Hebden, near Grassington. His French style of cooking goes hand in hand with game meat and his inventive methods produce exciting and tasty dishes. Lionel is very versatile in his methods of cooking and his reputation as a game chef is widely known in the Yorkshire Dales and beyond. Lionel spent three years at Le Restaurant des Vannes in Liverdun, a 2 star Michelin restaurant, with head Chef Jean Pierre Cotard. It was there that he drew inspiration and belief in simplicity and quality of ingredients.
Who best promotes the eating of game?
Once again I have to say Lionel Strub as he respects the game. At the Clarendon, Lionel serves over 2000 game birds per season and dozens of roe bucks, with 5 shoots based at the pub. He works closely with gamekeepers to source great quality birds straight from the Yorkshire Dales National park. In fact, 80% of the menu comes from within 3 miles of the pub, working with the farms and community.
Tell us about your most memorable – not necessarily the best – day’s shooting.
Fortunately, I have been blessed to be able to shoot for the past 45 years. I have so many fond memories shared with like-minded friends. However, my most memorable experience was stalking red deer on a private estate in Scotland with my son, Arran. Just the two of us set off walking alongside a lake, then ascended into the Munroes. I recall a pack of grouse flying overhead around 100m above us and we both looked at each other and decided that we must revisit one day and have a day on the grouse. The roar of the stags echoed down the glen and golden eagles soared above. It was one of the most emotional and atmospheric experiences of my hunting life. We stalked into two stags, but decided against the shot. Finally we came across a royal stag holding sixteen hinds in its harem.
Just as we made the final approach, another stag came over the hill to challenge and we were privileged to experience this spectacle. We finally grounded our stag, its antlers grace my wall at home and I often sit and reflect on that special day.
You are given a day’s shooting absolutely anywhere in the world, all expenses paid for you and seven guests. Where would you choose, with whom, and what would you eat and drink for lunch and dinner?
I don’t really have to travel anywhere in the world as I think the best shooting is in the Yorkshire Dales. The people I would be most happy to go with would be my son, Arran, Simon Ward (although I have not shot with Simon, I believe he is a true gentleman and an exceptional shot), Andy Crow as he seems to be an individual you could have an enjoyable day with, and long-standing friends, Toby Wingfield Digby, Brian Rycroft, Mark Hinton, and Dave Barrett.
My preference for lunch is usually a light lunch of goujons of partridge, along with soft drinks. I am a firm believer that alcohol should not be drunk whilst shooting.
For dinner, we would eat grouse, seared in a frying pan until brown and then transferred to an oven at 200° for 8 minutes. Served with braised red cabbage and butternut purée. You don’t have to overcomplicate the cooking of grouse and the taste is outstanding. An accompanying wine would have to be a good, old red burgundy.
To what lengths should shoots (and guns) go to ensure as much shot game as possible enters the food chain?
I believe that all feathered game should be prepared for the table and come with simple cooking instructions. This would encourage guns to take more than a brace, which they can give to like-minded friends and thereby create a demand. //