Owen Boynton, star of the popular television series Toa the Hunter Gatherer, has been named as a judge for the Whakatāne Local Wild Food Challenge.
Mr Boynton grew up in Waimana and Whanganui a Tara but also calls Gisborne home, and his television show follows him as he explores the unique attributes of regional New Zealand and their historical approaches to hunting and fishing. So far the series has seen him visit locations from Tarawera to the Chatham Islands, but he is looking forward to getting back to Whakatāne for the Local Wild Food Challenge.
"From a very young age I found adventure in our wild country, always wanting to hunt and fish and learn of the kai we could pursue and gather in our big wilderness backyard."
"I have a strong link to Whakatāne," he says, "with my family who still live there and the small settlement of Waimana where I spent the first years of my life. From a very young age I found adventure in our wild country, always wanting to hunt and fish and learn of the kai we could pursue and gather in our big wilderness backyard."
Mr Boynton is an established maker of hunting bows, with clients across the globe, but he is just as interested in the preparation of wild game as he is in catching it. "As a hunter I have had a fascination of not only hunting for kai but learning the many ways we can prepare it for the table," he says. "I was inspired by a friend of mine Carlos Martinez, a Mexican Chef and hunter too. He opened my eyes to the diverse flavours and colourful creations one could create with wild food. The thing I like about wild food is well, just that: its wild! I put a lot of thought into the animals I hunt, the foods I gather and keeping a balance and respect to what's harvested, and I feel putting the extra effort in to creating awesome tasting food gives us an added appreciation for our organic kai."
As a judge Mr Boynton says he will be looking for presentation that compliments the kai harvested, "but also flavours that allow the original wild taste to still come through. "The bounty of wild Aotearoa is at our fingertips, it just takes a few skills and know-how and anyone can enjoy the adventure and fulfilling feeling of hunting and gathering wild kai. To those that enter, well done that’s a win in itself - well it is for me anyway as I get to taste your creation!"
"The bounty of wild Aotearoa is at our fingertips, it just takes a few skills and know-how and anyone can enjoy the adventure and fulfilling feeling of hunting and gathering wild kai."
The Whakatāne Local Wild Food Challenge is held at Mataatua in summer, with food demonstrations, kids events and live music.
As any Kiwi hunter will tell you, nothing beats wild venison, and Owen Boynton's favourite way to serve it is as aged eye fillet with a rocket, spinach and watercress salad topped with a sweet onion dressing. Owen has kindly shared his family recipe with us.
Sweet Onion Dressing
· 1 cup Water
· 2/3 cup brown sugar
· 6 tablespoons white vinegar
· 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
· 1 tablespoon minced onion flakes
· 2 1/2 teaspoons Honey Dijon mustard
· 1 tablespoon arrowroot
· 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
· 1 teaspoon celery salt
· 1 teaspoon fresh onion, finely minced
· 1 teaspoon poppy seed
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon sweet smokey paprika
· 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. In a medium-sized sauce pan, whisk all the ingredients.
2. Place on the stove set to medium-high heat. Whisk continuously until it comes to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Let it cool then and refrigerate- place into jars etc.