Shawn Wilson Wins Fallow Deer Denver Leg Cutting Competition
Art Institute Student Shawn Wilson Wins Fallow Deer Denver Leg Cutting Competition at Hills Foods!
BC Juniors receive high merits for Merritt, BC Fallow Venison cutting demonstration at Hills Foods in Coquitlam (and learn how close wild kangaroo meat is to venison)
Hills Foods Fallow venison cutting demonstration was by all accounts a great success. The objective of the evening was to provide insight to the twenty-five young culinarians from the BC Junior Chefs on the approach to breaking carcasses of fallow venison.
Owners Mark and Tina Hills, Plant Manager Colin Aspinall, Sales Associates Brock Farrall and Jared Rand, Specialty Butcher Chak Cheng and New Product Development Coordinator Todd Simmons were all on hand to provide direction and answer any and all questions put forward. And there were many.
Fallow deer is the only deer allowed to be farmed in British Columbia. This is because other species have a greater risk potential of breeding with indigenous non-commercial species in the wild. Red deer is more common in the trade but is imported mostly from New Zealand with some also available from eastern Canada.
The attendees got more than they bargained for with a surprise challenge presented to each of them to create a fallow venison Denver leg. The butchers took extra time to show the intricacies of approaching and completing a professional finished product worthy of the Denver leg name to ready them for Battle Denver.
The concept of a Denver leg originated in Denver, Colorado presented by a game importer back in the mid eighties. New Zealand venison sellers were having challenges finding a home for the volumes of venison hind legs they wanted to move in North America and the idea of this “Chef Friendly” cut was devised. The original idea was formulated on the larger Red Deer (70 kg carcass) hind leg, which typically provides 8 whole muscle pieces after denuding. Because the Fallow Deer (25 kg carcass) is much smaller, the Denver leg is taken to only four muscle groups to allow for consistent usable portions.
To make it even more chef friendly the escallop of fallow venison first introduced by Hills almost twenty years ago has become a staple in many BC kitchens. The fallow venison Denver leg cuts are fork tender when cooked just right and it is not uncommon to see the escallop on menus as Medallions of venison.
The stage was set and the challenge was made. Who could create a four-piece Denver leg with the best yield percentage? The enthusiasm was palpable. Each participant picked a fresh hind leg, bone in (aitch and femur bone in, shank off), checked the start weight and began to cut. To be safe, because most were first timers, it was not a speed challenge, it was a about yield alone without a labour cost component.
An added extra, once the cutting was over, everyone met in the kitchen to do a taste comparison between recently introduced wild Australian kangaroo loins compared to farm raised fallow venison striploins. Guess what was most popular in flavour? Majority of comments were the kangaroo jumped ahead of the venison! The assumption was that the flavour edge provided from wild harvested protein over the delicate finish of a farmed protein was the reason. Either way they were both delicious.
Only two minor cuts reported thankfully, but after the weigh in there were three clear winners. Each received a hand crafted Didgeridoo (an aboriginal wind instrument common in Australia) The best yield at 63% went to Shawn Wilson, student at Vancouver Art Institute. For his winning effort he also received his fresh Merrit, BC Fallow Denver leg to take home and enjoy.
Special thanks to BC Chefs President, Don Gyurkovits, for helping coordinate and attend the event. It was an exhilarating experience for the Hills crew to see the enthusiasm and enjoyment shown by the young participants. The fact that they all came out on their own time to see something new and experience first hand the art of butchery and spark their imaginations as they continue on their culinary profession journey is encouraging indeed.
For more info on anything to do with game meats call Hills Foods @ 1-877-3MUSKOX