Venison, Grubs, Lobster And So Much More: The 8th Annual Local Wild Food Challenge On Martha’s Vineyard Delivers

From writing about what was new with this year’s Local Wild Food Challenge, I was excited to go and experience the event. And I was not disappointed.

Local Wild Food Challenge Martha's Vineyard Farm Institute

This year, I tried a new approach. Instead of going right when the LWFC opened its “gates,” I went with my family around 1:30 p.m. My reasoning for this was because I could get lunch at the food trucks that were there. Who doesn’t love sitting outside at the FARM Institute on the perfect, and yes, it was a perfect Fall day.

Local Wild Food Challenge Martha's VineyardAlso, since the Wild Food Challenge accepted entries until 4:00 p.m., I thought there would be a good amount of competitors there cooking up their wild food dishes for the judges. The judges this year, Justin Melnick from The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn, Julie Vanderhoop, Orange Peel Bakery, and Judy Klumick, from The Black Sheep. They were up for a challenge to choose the winners, but were definitely having fun.

Judges At The Martha's Vineyard Wild Food Challenge Farm Institute

The timing proved to be spot on. First, the LWFC has found what I hope is its forever home. The FARM Institute proved to be awesome. There’s parking, there are local animals, and a lot of space allowing for a large food prep tent and another large tent for the band, dancing, tasting table, beverage tables and more.

Local Wild Food Challenge Martha's Vineyard

Walking into the event, the music was playing, there were yummy smells of food in the air, with  happy, low key local vibe. Immediately to your right, was Lone Scout Survival School, where you can learn to live off the land and cook and eat just about anything.

Grubs!Wow – this survivalist set-up was really interesting. He was cooking up goat, raccoon butternut squash soup, and wine soaked grubs. Yes my friends, we’re looking at a different palate here for sure.

Tasting Wine Soaked Grubs At Martha's Vineyard Local Wild Food

Much to my surprise, my husband, Matt and his friend Weston, decided to each try a grub. It was disgusting to watch, but they did it. Saying they weren’t bad, but the big “crunch” from the body was a little gross.

Martha's vineyard Local Wild Food Challenge Farm Institute

Funny note. He thought they had been cooked. Meanwhile, I noticed them wriggling around in the bowl, prior to the addition of the wine which stopped the movement. All around yuck, but good for him.

The La Caja China, "pig in a box," Local Wild Food Challenge Martha's Vineyard

The La Caja China, “pig in a box,” had just finished roasting and was being served. Not the most beautiful sight, but the pork from this process is sooooooo good. I couldn’t help but sample serval bites, and the fact that homemade BBQ sauce was an option as a topping added to the goodness.

Local Wild Food ChallengeAs I had mentioned in my previous LWFC blog, there was a deer dismantling workshop. We were there for the tail end of it (sorry had too). I did not go, but my husband did. He commented that it was really interesting and educational.

Chef Nathan Gould Grilled Venison Martha's Local Wild Food Challenge

What I was most happy about was that Chef Nathan Gould was grilling on the Green Egg. What was he grilling? The freshest venison I had ever had. The meat was literally just butchered, and the venison served was amazing. So simple, a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, but the taste was amazing.

Local Wild Food ChallengeTo keep the amazing going, they made venison hamburgers, venison sausage, and venison hot dogs, which were some of the best I have ever had. I never knew that venison could be so damn good. Perhaps I need to get some friends that are hunters?!?

Venison Steaks Martha's Vineyard Local Wild Food Challenge

While enjoying these bites, you could get wine and beer. Wash Ashore and Peak Organic were there serving up refreshing adult beverages. Glad Peak had brought some of its new Highball. This light, tasty cider could easily became a new favorite (and it’s gluten free).

Peak Organic Highball Cider Martha's Vineyard Local Wild Food Challenge

Looking for something more family friend? Head High Kombucha had tastings and their Island made Kombucha. Also, Island Cocktail company had made delicious cider from local Morning Glory Farm apples, and were selling Fall inspired doughnuts from Humphrey’s — which I am glad they were, because I was able to encourage my son to try some pretty interesting foods, with the promise of a sprinkle doughnut.

Island Cocktail Apple Cider Local Wild Food Challenge Martha's Vineyard Farm Institute

For the kids, Edgartown School’s garden club teacher, Melinda Defeo was doing cider pressing with the kids. This is always a favorite with the little ones, who really love drinking the cider they make.

Local Wild Food Challenge

The FARM Institute was on hand with fun stuff for the kids and let’s not forget the music. Live music always livens things up, and Chandler Blues bands can get people moving. Of course the kiddos love to dance too.Live Music At Martha's Vineyard Local wild Food Challetnge

The Food Challenge

So, there was a food prep tent that was all abuzz and had different contenders throughout the day preparing dishes. For the two hours I was at LWFC, I was able to chat with Hal from Sweet Life, who was making duck three ways.

Sweet life Chef Hal Ryerson Duck 3 Ways Local Wild Food Challenge Martha's Vineyard

I also was there at the beginning dish prep of last year’s grand prize winner, chef Jimmy Alvarado. He was making Bay Scallop mouse wrapped in Winter flounder, with a rose hip demi glaze, roasted Queen’s Anne Lace (who knew you could roast that?), served on a salad of wild watercress, rose petals, sea beans, and Queen’s Anne Lace. I can only image how beautiful this dish was.

Local Wild Food ChallengeEverett Whiting (Local Smoke) was done with his dish, plating beautiful Island mushroom raviolis. I wish I had a way to let you smell this dish. It smelled incredible, and looked beautiful.

Local Wild Food Challenge

My friend Joe there with his family, sautéing deer hearts from a deer he butchered along with local mushrooms for a dish. His girls may not love hunting, but they love cooking! I love how this is a family affair for so many people.

Local Wild Food Challenge

There is a lot of joy in that food tent, and though I did not try any of those dishes I talked about, there were other things I was able to sample from the tasting table.

Local Wild Food Challenge

I tried lobster fra diabolo with local lobster and handmade pasta. Goose Jerky, yuck, but the wild turkey jerky was OK. There was quint and cranberry bread with fresh whipped cream, other venison sausage and more.

lobster fra diabolo Martha's Vineyard Local Wild Food Challenge

Between samples, and the lemon rosemary fries from The Food Truck, there was no need for dinner after those couple hours.

Local Wild Food Challenge

Though I did not stay until the end for the amazing awards, I did want to give a shoutout to my friend Meghan’s husband, Doug, who won one of the grand prizes for his dish, a whole crispy tautog (a white fish) over tautog broth with bay scallops, local white potatoes, smoked hedgehog mushrooms, candied spiced local cranberries, foraged watercress and finished with local herb and ginger oil. With his win, he and seven friends have a trip to Nantucket on a yacht – whootwhoot!

Tautog Winning Fish Dish Martha's Vineyard Local Wild Food Challenge

A big cheers to all those who entered, to all those who made this event happen, and to a great, family friendly event that is a celebration of the bounty of Martha’s Vineyard. It really is a unique Island event that is quite special. An event that draws a really fun crowd.

Local Wild Food Challenge Martha's VineyardNext up for Local Wild Food Challenge – Hawaii in November! Good luck to all those entering!

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