Cyno Cub

FOR THE NEXT several weeks, things for those in the food world get rough on the old liver (and head, and arteries, and ego). This week Feast Portland takes over downtown, with its resplendent tastings and long-lasting parties and after parties. (Check out feastportland.com to see if you can still get into the Friday grand tasting, which always has lighter crowds—AKA more bites for you.)

Yet I always save some stamina for my favorite event of the year: Nicky Farms’ Wild About Game, set for October 2 at Resort at the Mountain in Welches. Located under the non-judgmental loom of Mt. Hood, this daytime event is packed with an artisan marketplace of high-end purveyors of foie gras, oysters, spirits, and other tasties, all of which are open for sampling (and re-sampling, as you do) all day. It’s a wildly good time.

Every year also features a fun-as-hell cook-off between super sharp Seattle and Portland chefs, with battles featuring a different Nicky Farms meat each hour. I can’t think of a better way to invest $69. Here’s the lowdown on the competition this year:

ROUND ONE
Nicky Farms Wild Hawaiian Venison

Troy MacLarty
Bollywood Theater, Portland

MacLarty is kind of a big deal. Have you had that fried okra? Yass. MacLarty may be a white boy, but he’s serving up some Indian street food goodness.

VS.

Jesse Elliott
Witness Bar, Seattle

The king of the kitchen at this Southern-inflected popular Capitol Hill spot, Elliott also spent time working in the empire that is Tom Douglas restaurants.

WHO MIGHT WIN:

Pretty sure there aren’t any deer in India. Wait, Google says there are. But the South has a lot of guns, some of which are used to kill deer. Let’s go with Elliott.


ROUND TWO
Nicky Farms Partridge

Kasey Mills
Mediterranean Exploration Company, Portland

Mills is a longtime John Gorham cohort, and co-owns Pine Street Market’s Shalom Y’All and MEC. He makes a mean pita.

VS.

Seth Fernald
Novelty-Hill Januik Winery, Woodinville, Washington

After spending 20 years in New England, Fernald came west, and has worked for the winery since 2014. He won a chef competition last summer.

WHO MIGHT WIN:

I feel like partridge might be kind of a winery food?? But I’m going to go with Mills, because... I like the cut of his jib.


ROUND THREE
Duck

Erik Van Kley
Taylor Railworks, Portland

Van Kley was longtime right-hand guy at Le Pigeon and Little Bird, and last year opened his own restaurant, where he’s had a deft turn with Asian and French dishes.

VS.

Taylor Thornhill
Bateau, Seattle

Bateau calls itself a whole animal steak restaurant, which is confusing, since steak is a specific cut. But the menu looks amaze and it’s a Renee Erickson joint.

WHO MIGHT WIN:

I’m giving this one to Van Kley, whose dishes are consistently surprising and on point. Plus, go Portland.


ROUND FOUR
Nicky Farms Rabbit

Earl Ninsom
Langbaan, Portland

Ninsom is a rock star, with his haute Thai restaurant booked out months in advance. He’s got flavor on lockdown.

VS.

Edouardo Jordan
Salare, Seattle

Jordan was a James Beard nominee and named one of Food & Wine’s best chefs for 2016. He’s worked at Per Se, Sitka and Spruce, and The French Laundry. Dude has got a pedigree—and a following.

WHO MIGHT WIN:

I refuse to make even a stupid guess about this one. Can’t wait to see how this clash of the titans turns out.