THE HUNTER CHEF COOKBOOK
The first cookbook from chef Michael Hunter, of Antler, in Toronto’s west end, comes out of the gate with a short, whole-animal butchery guide that begins with this assertion: “Butchering your own deer is incredibly satisfying.” If you are anything like me, you might well have expected the next sentence to read, “Especially when you’re doing it on your restaurant’s front window-side table in full view of a bleating gang of vegan protesters.” But no. Only practical information is included here, and why not? That viral video and its accompanying news stories from two years back may still be the principal source of Hunter’s renown, but he is a serious chef, who is deeply passionate about wild foods—and sourcing them himself. Because of various laws stacked against the sale of wild game, this is not what you find on the table at his restaurant. What you get there instead in your game burger or spice-ash-dusted venison chop is its farm-raised variant. And similarly, while the book features plenty of recipes for real game (squirrel, dove, Canada goose, ruffed grouse), most of its proteins are either farmed (duck, wild boar, rabbit) or conveniently available at your local fishmonger (spot prawns, scallops, wild salmon). Which is just as well. Most home cooks don’t spend as much time armed in the field as does Hunter, but they still deserve a shot at channelling some of his back-to-nature enthusiasm. This is a good, accessible cookbook for aspiring hunter-chefs. —J. R.