written by Jen Stevenson
Run (and eat) wild with a thicketful of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs at Nicky USA’s annual celebration of wild game and culinary camaraderie, returning on September 30 to the Mt. Hood Oregon Resort in Welches, Oregon. Now in its eighteenth year, the festival promises an impressive lineup of local cooking talent, from Castagna’s Justin Woodward and Aviary’s Sarah Pliner to Seattle chefs David Nichols (Rider) and Alex Barkley (Manolin). Against a backdrop of the Oregon high country’s brilliant fall foliage, guests sample gourmet meats, craft beers, charcuterie, spirits, cheeses, wine, cider, chocolate and coffee from nearly fifty top local purveyors including Olympia Provisions, Salt & Straw and Crowley Wines, plus meat-centric bites from more than a dozen acclaimed chefs like Gregory Gourdet of Departure and Kachka’s Bonnie Morales.
The meaty merriment turns serious come the Carter Cutlery Cooking Competition, which pits four Portland chefs against four Seattle chefs, all vying for the coveted Overall Award title, claimed in years past by star chefs like Edouardo Jordan of JuneBaby, Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon and Gregory Denton of Ox. Wild About Game tickets are available online—if you plan to take the Cocktail Competition’s People’s Choice award judging responsibilities very seriously, consider reserving a room at the resort.