This article is a little different from those of weeks past as I’m going to review an event instead of a restaurant. I was asked to be a judge at Wild Beast Feast 2014 by my great friend, and the event chairman, Laura Monk. I had the chance to experience Louisiana’s wildlife dishes cooked to perfection.
The Wild Beast Feast was the brainchild of former Lake Charles Symphony board president Frank Pruitt; the idea was created in 2001 as a way to enjoy SWLA’s culture. The Wild Beast Feast raises money for the symphony’s educational programs and continues to be the symphony’s largest fundraiser. This year’s event was held at the Historic Cash and Carry Building.
So there were 20 different chef teams that came together to prepare food for the event. As much as I’d love to talk about them all, I’m going to give you the highlight reel.
I had three personal favorites in the competition, so we’re going to focus on them. First off, I’m not a fan of rabbit at all, and in my life I’ve only had it once when I truly enjoyed it. On that occasion, it was made for me by my late friend Brandon Langley at the Iowa Rabbit Festival.
At the Wild Beast Feast, the Lacassine Company team chef Patrick Martinez prepared a rabbit sauce piquant that I found to be heaven in a bowl. The rabbit was very tender, and there wasn’t a single hint of a gamey flavor. The color in the sauce was a little lighter than I’m used to, but the seasoning was perfect. The rice was cooked to perfection, which is hard to do on such a large scale.
So I had a tie for first. There was also the team of Pirogue Pirates (Knights of Columbus) with chef John Day. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing John for some time; he was our play-by-play commentator during the Fat Cat Café’s title run of 2012 for Lake Charles’ Adult Kick Ball League title. I was truly taken aback at his culinary skill.
John created Bayou Balls, which were made from line-caught alligator gar croquettes that were served with a sweet remoulade sauce. The balls were fried to perfection — with just enough crunch on the outside and a nice, tender center. They had a nice little bite on their own, but when you dipped them into the remoulade, they got a nice little added punch that brought them together perfectly.
Then there was Spiceman’s Kitchen Table with chef Spiceman Franklin. Both Spiceman and John tied for my top score, but Spiceman’s creativity set him apart. A 5 was the highest score I could give him.
I’ve never heard of his dish and I’m not totally sure how to explain it. but I’ll do my best. The dish was called a Genesis Soul Roll. It was made of smoked kale, roasted pecans and jerk turkey and shaped like a meat pie. It was served with a sauce that was made of red beans and dark chocolate.
The crust on the meat pie was nice and flakey and held together the way it should. The jerk turkey was nice and spicy. Since I’d never had jerk turkey, this was a great first experience for me.
The sauce had a rich chocolate flavor, and the red beans blended down with it just perfectly. The flavor was bold; it really surprised me. When Spiceman served me, he told me it was like nothing I had ever tried, and he was dead on.
— 1st place: Spiceman;
— 2nd Place: Prytania Private Dining (Chef Andrew Green)
People’s Choice Award
— Prytania Private Dining (Chef Andrew Green)
Contact Info For Participants:
Lake Charles Symphony- www.lcsympony.com, 337-433-1611
Spiceman: Leroy Franklin (559)-772-7647
Historic Cash & Carry Building — 801 Enterprise Boulevard, Lake Charles, 337-310-0405