At the top of his game

At the top of his game Marta Jacyna talks to Jose Souto, senior lecturer at the Culinary Arts Westminster Kingsway College, a BASC Food Ambassador and demonstrator chef for Taste of Game. As a BASC Food Ambassador, you may have seen Jose Souto in our Shooting and Conservation magazine promoting game meat to the general public. Jose worked as a chef at the House of Commons for over 11 years and is currently a senior chef lecturer in Culinary Arts at the Westminster Kingsway College in London.   What really needs telling though, is Jose’s enthusiasm for shooting and game; his greatest passions are falconry and stalking: “I am lucky to have a varied history of fieldsports. While on holiday in southern Spain, my uncle introduced me to game shooting. This included trips shooting quail, partridge and pigeon at first, with later trips on rabbits. A lot of what we did was rough shooting and flushing game with dogs. Back in the UK, I found it difficult to get into shooting as I had no one around me that was involved in the shooting world, so I chose another path that had captivated me for years – falconry.” Together with his wife Charlotte, they now have a collection of over 50 birds of prey, including his two favourite hunting partners, a Brookie peregrine, Amigo and a female Finnish goshawk, Sophia. Image by Steve Lee “I also started getting into deer stalking about 15 years ago through Mike Collins, a senior deer ranger at Epping Forest. Later, I met Julian Stoyel, who was the head deer park manager and stalker at Holkham Hall and now at Houghton Hall, both fantastic mentors into the deer world. "By the time I came to do my DSC1, some five years later, I had quite a lot of knowledge about deer. Every stalker should complete the DSC1 course; it really is good practice and is a good grounding for all things deer related.”  Jose does quite a lot of game shooting too, often accompanied by a good friend, and world-renowned photographer Steve Lee. They’ve collaborated to produce two of the books mentioned earlier and are currently planning a third book on preparing and cooking rabbit, hares and other game. Jose never planned a career as a chef, although he had a love of cooking and was encouraged by his family. “I remember my first attempt at cooking game. My uncles asked me to prepare a paella with wild rabbit after a day’s shooting. I made a complete hash of it! I didn’t give it enough time to cook, so it was tough and not good at all. Afterwards, my uncles showed me exactly what to do and it was a fantastic dish.” Rabbit also featured in another traditional Spanish recipe, conejo al ajillo (rabbit with garlic), which became his absolute favourite. “It’s such a simple and delicious recipe. I used it in one of the very first Taste of Game leaflets.” Jose decided to go…

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Self-isolation frozen food packs from Wild and Game
Wild and Game has released a special self-isolation pack of frozen game meals delivered straight to your door.

Self-isolation frozen food packs from Wild and Game

Wild and Game, the not-for-profit company putting game on the menu across the UK...

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Duck breast in raspberry and orange sauce

I decided to focus on using local produce in my recipe. I got all the products from a local greengrocer who sources fruit and vegetables from the local area. I wanted to create a simple but also modern dish. The sweet potato has become a popular alternative to the white potato.

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Pigeon samosas and mango chutney

Inspiration I decided to use wood pigeon for my samosas because it’s a dark meat and very lean so it was ideal to use in crispy filo pastry as the pastry wouldn’t go soggy. I shot the pigeon with my dad on a cold night’s roost shooting in Leicestershire. Therefore, my pigeon was a locally sourced ingredient.

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Three ways rabbit with crispy potatoes

My inspiration for this dish was local produce. I live in the hills and rabbit is a sustainable, good quality and cheap meat. The rabbits we get are ferreted by a local farmer, skinned then dropped at our door.

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