The Game Chef: Wild recipes from the Great Outdoors is Angelo Georgalli’s companion to the TV series that celebrates organic produce and seasonal feasting. Shot in Wanaka it’s a picture-postcard tour of incredible vistas, and for the most part, it’s hard not to love this incredibly exquisite collection of curated images and recipes.
Georgalli’s passion and commitment to eating local (in every possible way) is reflected in his approach to food and his choice of simple, pleasurable eating. The recipes feature an array of options from rabbit to wild sheep, red deer to brown trout, hare and tahr (a relation of the goat) and there are a range of different ways to enjoy the game – from barbequed skewers to risottos to salads and omelettes.
There are also lovely personal anecdotes by Georgalli, useful titbits of geographical information from the Matukituki Valley to Mount Aspiring National Park and the Cardrona Valley; and story and history are gently woven together.
But while this may be an ideal gift for those who wish to take away a slice of New Zealand (yes, the photos take pride of place) it’s not quite the game recipe book that it could have been. The recipe for herb butter isn’t extraordinary in anyway and the teriyaki sauce disappointingly does come from a bottle. The recipes in general are fairly standard and certainly use fresh ingredients but for those who really are keen to get their hands on the game that the book celebrates, there is little information on the process of actually where to track, hunt and shoot; and even less on the actual skinning and butchering process. Georgalli does however, mention the right people who can show you the ropes because unless you already know the lay of the land and you’re an experienced hunter it will take more than just reading this cookbook to get these meals to your table.
However, the actual fact that you can make some wondrously delicious meals with the various flavours that New Zealand has to offer does expand our culinary palette. Georgalli comes from a tradition of heartfelt cooking and his obvious commitment to the land and the animals who provide nourishment for body and soul is demonstrated with love on each page.
It’s a visual narrative that charts a journey across New Zealand and is indeed, quite the accompaniment to the television series – it just doesn’t quite stand-up as a recipe book on its own.