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Buffet at ECTC offers unique cooking, eating options

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By Amber Coulter

Jerry Squires had never eaten bison, ostrich, boar or kangaroo before Wednesday night.

He and two friends who work with him in the information technology department at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College were among about 120 people who wound through lines at the school’s Wild Game Buffet to sample meats they had never tasted.

Squires said he and his friends hunt as often as they can, so they wanted to be part of the event when they received an email about it.

The email said the event could only take place if at least 25 people reserved spots to try ostrich meatloaf, alligator balls, turtle ragout, cricket cake and various other preparations of unusual game dishes and complimentary sides and deserts. The wild game also included flavors more common to Kentucky hunters, such as venison, squirrel and rabbit.

It appeared for a while the event might not draw the necessary attention to proceed. Then, more than 120 people signed up, Squires said.

Susie Clark, associate professor and program coordinator for culinary arts, said she and her students could barely believe the number of people who signed up for the buffet.

The event began when 10 students in her game class who contributed dishes to the meal, wanted to try working with meat they had never cooked.

“They are very adventurous,” she said.

Organizing the buffet took a lot of preparation, but it was worth it to give students the chance to conceptualize dishes such as kangaroo tacos and Creole-style rabbit, Clark said.

Cooking the unusual meats didn’t require the learning of many new techniques, only a lot of preparation, Clark said.

After teaching the class for a long time, a student’s choice to cook kangaroo, which she had never tried, was what surprised Clark the most about the students’ menu selection.

Other classes helped with the event, with a catering class preparing the dining area and baking students contributing desserts, Clark said.

“I am so proud of my program,” she said. “The whole program really came together and just did a fabulous job.”

Clark said the Wild Game Buffet was so successful it likely will not be the last of its kind.

Sarah Raisor of Shepherdsville made turtle ragout, which required her to learn to butcher a turtle.

“The meat goes in all different ways, and Ms. Clark told me there are seven different kinds of meat,” she said.

Raisor wanted to try turtle, so it made sense to choose it as her dish for the buffet.

Michelle Ehlers of Bardstown also got a lesson in cutting up game as she helped prepare for the event.

She helped cook rabbit, frog legs and fish. In cooking rabbit, Ehlers had to learn how to butcher one.

Both students said cooking for the event gave them an opportunity to prepare and eat new foods. They hoped attendees would be as satisfied eating the game selections as they were learning to handle them.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.