I Knew Hank Shaw When …

Congratulations to Hank Shaw for winning the 2013 James Beard Best Individual Blog Award.
I Knew Hank Shaw When …

I’ve known Hank Shaw since I met him on a Camp Chef duck hunt on the Great Salt Lake way back … oh, last November.

Okay, okay—that’s not very long. But our meeting there turned me on to his blog Hunter-Angler-Gardner-Cook; and from my first visit I was hooked. The blog is all about making healthy, delicious, and especially memorable meals from what you kill, catch, grow and forage. Hank’s food doesn’t just fill you up—it makes you happy and makes your life richer. He shares recipes and cooking techniques on his blog every week that are simply the best stuff out there for folks who eat fish, game, woodland bounty—or even road kill.

Don’t believe me? Well, now there’s proof! I knew I have impeccable taste, and now there’s no doubt!

Hank was just awarded a James Beard Award for the Best Individual Blog of 2013. In the world of the foodie, this is the equivalent of an Olympic gold medal. I’ll let Hank describe that feeling in his own words:

Everything started to get blurry when Ted Allen (from Food Network’s Chopped) announced the nominees for Best Individual Food Blog: Alder Yarrow from Vinography, Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille, and me. My heart stopped when he announced my name. I might have shouted like a hockey player scoring a hat trick … OK, I know I did.

I felt like I was levitating as I went to the stage, and Ted went to put the James Beard medal around my neck. That’s when it hit me: This was my Olympic medal. For many years I was a distance runner, and a pretty good one, too. Every morning I’d wake up with dreams of making the Olympic Trials, and then somehow overcoming the odds to earn a spot on the team. It was a nice dream, but my body broke before I could fully realize it. I’d moved on.

But every Olympics I watch in rapt attention. I still tear up a bit when I see American runners do well. Wearing the Beard medal around my neck, it felt like this was as close as I’d ever get to standing on that podium. And while the Beards are not the Olympics, Olympians don’t get to talk on the podium. I did.

I dedicated my award first and foremost to Holly—my photographer, hunting partner and most of all, my best friend.

But I also dedicated it to Tama Matsuoka and Eddy LeRoux, to Jesse Griffiths and Kirk Lombard and Steven Rinella—and to all the hunters, anglers, foragers and lovers of wild food out there. To you.”

It goes without saying, I’m a big fan of Hank’s and his blog. He’s got an all-wild-duck-cookbook coming out very soon that I can’t wait to get my hands on. His knowledge of historic recipes and the lore behind them is what blew me away in our initial meeting. We’ve even mentioned that Under the Big Pine before.

Hank is a hardcore hunter and angler, and that’s what’s so great about him winning this huge honor in the world outside of our traditional hook-and-bullet tunnel vision world. James Beard Awards are the big, big time. They are a prestigious, history-steeped, serious honors—not some made up reality TV manure that puts hunters and anglers in the same light as carnival sideshow freaks in the view of the outside world.

I’m proud to say I’ve shared a blind and a camp with Hank Shaw. I even took the picture of him that graces this post and that he uses occasionally as his avatar! Congratulations, Hank! And thank you for standing proudly as a meat-eating hunter and fisherman. We need more like you in our ranks.

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