Chef wows game bird hunters with pukeko

  • 3/08/2020
  • Richie Cosgrove

Chef wows game bird hunters with pukeko

The often-maligned pukeko was the culinary champion at the annual Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game, game bird food night at Club Waimea on Sunday night. 

Club Waimea chef Phil Hazeldine wowed the eighty hunters and their families who turned up to see what masterpieces he could create out of their game birds. 

Organised by Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game in conjunction with Phil Hazeldine at Club Waimea, the popular event was booked out early by hunters who had heard about the fantastic dishes created by Hazeldine in previous years.

Thirteen options were created by Hazeldine and his team from the organic free-range game provided to him by the hunters. 

The curve ball thrown at Hazeldine this year was that hunters had provided a lot of pukeko meat but rising to the challenge Hazeldine turned pukeko into the nights champions and created six of the thirteen dishes from Pukeko.


Pukeko going on the hotplate.

Diners first sampled a canape with pukeko, kumara and a bourbon relish, they then sampled a pukeko filo tart done with heart and livers under a parsnip crisp. This was followed by thin slices of pukeko with a spiced honey sauce.

Next was a Pukeko taco which was followed by Hazeldine’s own invention of GBD’s or Game Bird Dogs, a pukeko and paradise shelduck sausage that was presented in two options: a crumbed sausage with a black pepper crème or as battered as a hotdog on a stick.

Diners also feasted on meals created out of mallards, paradise shelduck, pheasant and Canada Geese but it was the humble pukeko who was the star of the night. 

Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game Office Jacob Lucas says, “Phil has once again excelled himself in what he can make from our humble game birds”. 

“Using techniques that any home cook can use Phil has shown us that we can push the boundaries and use our game birds for more than roast duck”. 

“This region has many pukekos for hunters to harvest, but they are often overlooked by game hunters, however, tonight has shown us that it is a fantastic eating bird that can be a great food source for the family”. 

When presenting the dishes Hazeldine does not reveal the meat ingredient to the diners and they try and guess which game bird is used in each dish.

At the end of the dinner Hazeldine runs through his menu with the diners and reveals the meat ingredients and the flavour combinations he used to make the game birds shine.

You can watch the night here

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