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January 10, 2018

Maine Food Insider: At this fundraiser, wild game is name of the game

Photo / Darryl Wood
Photo / Darryl Wood
The antlers from the 834-pound moose Darryl Wood took in September, at Bradford’s Camps in Allagash. Meat from the moose will be among the ingredients used at a wild game dinner in Farmington Jan. 20 to benefit LEAP, where Wood is executive director.

How does a burger with bacon and bleu cheese, smothered in a roasted garlic sriracha sound? Now what if the burger is made from moose meat. Still interested?

In Franklin County — as plans are developing for a wild game dinner, complete with a moose-calling contest, to benefit a local nonprofit — many people are expected to embrace that notion.

"I think we'll have a full house," said Darryl Wood, executive director of LEAP, a nonprofit that supports people with developmental or cognitive disabilities. The Jan. 20 game dinner is a benefit for the Farmington-based organization.

Wood said the dinner was the idea of Tom Saviello, District 17's state senator, who is a member of the Legislature's Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and also, apparently, a wild game gourmet.

"He sent me a note asking if we would like to do [a game dinner as] a benefit for LEAP," Wood said this week. Soon, Tuck's Ale House, at 160 Main St., got involved, as did Strong's Roger Lambert, owner of the Maine Guide Service.

Call of the Wild

The Jan. 20 three-hour event will also include a moose-calling contest — or any wildlife call participants would like to perform — just for the heck of it.

"It's just for fun, I guess," Wood said. "Call it a cabin fever reliever."

The winner gets the notoriety of winning, as well as his or her name inscribed on a half-rack moose antler that will hang in Tuck's and be added to each year.

The dinner will not only include Wood's bacon-bleu cheese moose burgers — made in part from the moose he shot in Allagash in September — but venison burgers, Saviello's bear stew, bear summer sausage as appetizers and more. Wood said that several area hunters contributed meat for the dinner.

A grill will be set up outside in front of Tuck's, and they expect to fill the pub to capacity.

For a cause

Under Maine law, wild game meat can't be sold — state officials don't want wildlife targeted for profit. But those attending the wild game dinner are free to make a donation to LEAP.

"We're putting it like this, 'We're serving up the wild game and, oh, by the way, if you want to make a donation," Wood said.

The fundraiser joins the wildly successful February chili cook-off that also raises money for the organization and is also hosted by Tuck's, owned by Amy and Nate Morin.

Wood said aside from the fun and food, he's moved by the effort made by the community to support the organization, which supports and advocates for those who are often overlooked.

"If you think about it, you have businessmen in the community saying 'We're going to come together and do something,' and they chose LEAP," he said. "It's humbling."

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