AURORA, Ore. (AP) — It was a lineup of the unlikeliest sort — more than a dozen of Portland's finest farm-to-table chefs shouldering shotguns and taking aim.
But these culinary sharpshooters weren't firing at future menu items. They were taking aim at clay discs on a game farm, a creative effort by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to recruit a fresh class of hunters — foodies.
No, really. Hoping to bridge the gap between the urban food scene and rural hunting traditions, the state partnered with Nicky Farm — which raises game and cattle for Portland's burgeoning restaurant scene — to teach some of the region's elite chefs what's really involved in getting dinner on the table.
So on a blistering Sunday in June roughly 30 miles south of Portland, Greg Denton of Portland restaurant Ox, thumbed a .20-gauge shell into the flap of a black shotgun, pressed the stock to his right shoulder and pulled the trigger. Twenty yards away, through a wisp of smoke, a wounded orange clay disc dropped from the sky. All for naught, really.
"I personally will never hunt anything myself. Oh, no, no. I can't handle that stuff," said Denton, after giving a bit of a fist pump.
Still, the goal wasn't to turn chefs into hunters. Rather, the state wanted to teach them that hunting can be a humane way of getting great grub on the table. And if those chefs pass that lesson on to their customers, perhaps a new generation of hunters will be born.
Oregon isn't the only state taking a culinary approach to breeding new hunters. New Hampshire is coming at it from the other side. In September, the state will host a cooking class for hunters, teaching them everything from dressing and butchering wild game to menu planning and cooking.