Untamed taste at the Local Wild Food Challenge

Local Wild Food Challenge utilizes ingredients straight from the source.

The Local Wild Food Challenge returns to the FARM Institute for the third year running on Sunday, Oct. 21, from 2:30 to 8:30 pm. The challenge brings together some of the Island’s most ambitious chefs, both professional and dilettante, to harness the bounty of nature and create a delicious dish with wild ingredients.

Founded in 2008, the challenge has grown from a small contest in Eastbourne, New Zealand, to a worldwide event with eight challenges.

Local Wild Food Challenges are designed to demonstrate the resourcefulness of local people living in communities where wild food is available. According to the challenge website, “the deeper one ventures into their environment, the more motivation one has to protect it.”

Participants are required to use at least one ingredient in their dishes that is picked, caught, hunted, or foraged straight from the source. Whether it’s a striking salad of colorful wildflowers, or a carpetbagger steak stuffed with fresh local Sweet Neck oysters, founder Bill Manson said the challenge encourages people to look deeper into their natural environment and learn what is available to eat right out their back doors.

“Martha’s Vineyard has an amazing natural wild food resource.The forests are loaded with berries, mushrooms, herbs, deer, and nuts. The ocean speaks for itself, but also supports a shoreline, abundant with shellfish, crustaceans, and edible plants,” Manson told The Times.

“Pros, amateurs, young and old, as long as you have foraged, bartered, hunted, gathered, or fished for at least one ingredient, you are good to go for entering the challenge.”

Manson said he enjoys seeing local talent and creativity come to life in the form of beautiful and unique dishes. “All the dishes have a vast array of local ingredients, and the Islander’s culinary talent, rarely seen but always bubbling quietly away, comes out in full force.” he said. “We are excited about celebrating the good fortune of this Island and part of the world.”

The original cook-off culinary challenge has evolved into a more festival type of day with demos, food trucks, live music from Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, natural food workshops, and more.

Manson said there is something for everyone at this event: vegetarian dishes, smoked, pickled, fermented, along with fresh desserts and drinks.

Spectator tickets are $20, while competitor and children’s admission is free. Enter the competition for free online at bit.ly/WFoodEntry.