The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 20, 2013

Cooks on the Wild Side big winner in cook-off


The News Courier

— Close to 350 people and 20 cook teams participated in the Alabama Wildlife Federation/Alabama Army National Guard Wild Game Cook-Off.

Blackened Mia Mia, Gourmet Quail Popper and Wack Strap Wrap were just a few of the dishes served up at  Canebrake Club in Athens.

Teams from across the area competed for the title of best overall wild game chefs.  Cooks on the Wild Side including Howard Godbee, Victor Melonas, Denise Francis and Kelly Gambino took home the title with their Grilled Duck and Green Apple Salad.

Jim McClary of  McClary Tire Company has been a judge for five years.

“The food is always great and I can’t find much room for improvement in any dish,” McClary said. “This is a good event for our community and everyone that attends thoroughly enjoys it.”

Because of the caliber of food, judges said they had a tough time, and while Cooks on the Wild Side took home the top title, particpants said they certainly weren’t the only team serving up good food at the event.

Other winners included:



Fish Division: First place – Fowl Play including Tiffany Pack and Sonya Inman cooking Blackened Mia Mia; second place – Red Hen including Dan Nelson, Matt Nelson and Gwen Nelson cooking Pan Fried Speckled Trout; third place – Killin’ Time including George Downs, Grant Gordon, Tommy Downs and Rickey Motter cooking Crappie Cakes.



Fowl Division: First place – Cooks on the Wild Side including Howard Godbee, Victor Melonas, Denise Francis, Kelly Gambino cooking Grilled Duck and Green Apple Salad; second place – Red Hen including Dan Nelson, Matt Nelson and Gwen Nelson cooking Gourmet Quail Popper; third place – East Limestone Porkers including Eric Johnson, Matt Thomas and Chad Drake cooking Flamin’ Turkey.



Game Division: First place – East Limestone Porkers including Eric Johnson, Matt Thomas and Chad Drake cooking Back Strap Wrap; second place – Southern Smokers including Martin Bailey, Mitch Shelly, Heath E. Christopher and Neal Johnston, Jr. cooking Deer Chongas; third place – First South Farm Credit including Grant Bennett, Mike Besh, Randy Allen and Jeff Ferguson cooking After the Hunt Back Strap and Biscuits.



The potluck winners were Bank Indepent serving up Wild Game Gumbo, Happy, Happy, Happy for Cervo Sal-sic-ci-a and A Plus Restoration for Brisket.

The Alabama Army National Guard People’s Choice Award and first place presentation award went to Crappie Dynasty. Second place presentation went to Red Hen.

The purpose of Alabama Wildlife Federation Wild Game Cook-Offs is to supply a place for AWF members to interact, for nonmembers to learn more about Alabama Wildlife Federation, and to provide the opportunity to raise funds to support Alabama Wildlife Federation and its programs and projects.  The Cook-Offs also demonstrate that sportsmen/women utilize the wild game and fish they harvest and cook it with care, skill and expertise to produce  table fare. 

The Alabama Wildlife Federation, established by sportsmen in 1935, is the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ conservation organization. The mission of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, a nonprofit group supported by membership dues and donations, is to promote conservation and wise use of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources as a basis for economic and social prosperity.

To learn more about the Alabama Wildlife Federation, including membership details, programs and projects, visit www.alabamawildlife.org or call 1-800-822-WILD.