At The Cook School, we encourage our customers to try new dishes, get out of their comfort zone and learn about the food that’s being prepared. This is why we are committed to maintaining strong relationships with our suppliers, including The British Game Alliance (BGA), to keep us and our customers, educated on the food we are eating. Our Game Night Cook @ Home classes are fast approaching, and we want to reassure our customers that it’s attainable, easy to cook and most importantly delicious.
So what is Game? Many of us associate Game with high-end restaurants that are out of our reach, whilst some are not exactly sure what it is, and this is because it’s not commonly eaten. Game falls into two categories: the first is feathered game or game birds, including grouse, pheasant, partridge, quail, wild duck, wood pigeon, snipe and woodcock. The second category is furred game, which is hare, rabbit, venison and ‘wild’ boar.
We caught up with Louisa North, Head of Operations at the BGA, to explain what the BGA is, and what they do.
Tell us about the BGA?
We are a not-for-profit organisation who were set up to promote, assure and develop Game to the public. When you see our logo, it signifies that the game has come from BGA members who are adhering to our high welfare and environmental standards. It’s similar to the Red Tractor, you know certain standards are followed from farm to plate. Our Marketing Board aims to reach out to new markets and consumers.
What Game do you assure?
We assure only Feathered Game which includes pheasant, grouse and partridge.
Pheasant is the most popular because it’s easily available and it tastes similar to chicken. There’s a misconception that it it has an overpowering gamey taste but that’s because in the past people hung it for days. As part of our standards, the birds have to go into the chiller within 2 hours of being shot. Grouse is slightly more expensive so is seen by many as a treat.
There are many health benefits in consuming Game, could you tell us what they are?
It’s one of the healthiest meats available, it’s high in protein and very lean so perfect for those who are training and trying to gain muscle. It’s also high in Iron and contains higher levels of many nutrients including vitamin E, Vitamin E and Selenium.
What measures are you taking to promote Game meat?
We do a range of things to raise awareness of Game meat. We have a Commercial Director who approaches restaurant chains, stadiums and other new markets for it to be sold into. We run a consumer-facing campaign called Eat Wild, which focuses on the understanding how to cook game with videos, blogs, and recipes; not the shooting. Collaborations with Chef’s such as Gizzi Erskine helps us to break down the barrier that Game is elitist, and expensive, whereas everyone can have it in their diet.
Last year, we worked with Holme Farm Venison to put game into Sainsbury’s. This is the first supermarket that has stocked assured game meat which we were excited about.
How has the Pandemic affected sales?
There has been a massive rise in Game sales in the last year, however, the supply has been unstable with restrictions affecting shoots. People have had the time to cook and become more experimental while stuck at home. The Cook School @ Home classes have been great for us, we have had people contact us to say that’s the first time they’ve tried Game and they loved it. Also, our collaboration with Mac n Wild was a huge success because it allowed people to cook Grouse in their homes following a simple recipe.
What ethical actions are followed by your members?
I’m a flexitarian and want to know where my meat comes from. At the BGA, we ensure that the shooting has been done as ethically as possible. The birds don’t leave their natural habitat and live in the wild from 2 months to up to 3-4 years. We protect their environment so they have the best possible life, unlike chickens where there’s a strong possibility they’ve been caged most of their lives.
What would you recommend to someone who is going to try Game meat for the first time?
My personal favourite is partridge because it has a sweet and unique flavour. However, I would recommend pheasant because anything you can do with chicken, you can do with pheasant and it is readily available. It doesn’t take as long to cook as chicken, and you can serve it slightly pink. If you do over cook pheasant, it will become dry so be careful.
Learning more about The British Game Alliance has been invaluable to us here at The Cook School and we are proud to feature Game meat in some of our Zoom classes. It’s many health benefits and knowing that shooters follow ethical standards makes us feel excited and reassured. The game used in all our boxes is BGA assured.
If you want to expand your palate and try something new, visit our website to book into one of our British Game classes on the 2nd and 3rd of April.