Chef John Manikowski is truly a man for all seasons—and some might even say an overachiever. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but it's true that as a chef, hunter, artist, and writer, he excels in every aspect.
As an artist, he earned a Master's Degree from Rhode Island School of Design before teaching art for over ten years, including a year at Harvard University. The National Endowment for the Arts also awarded him a grant as Massachusetts' artist-in-residence.
For more than a dozen years, he was co-chef and co-owner of two restaurants: Charleston in Hudson, New York (still in operation) and Konkapot in Mill River, Massachusetts.
"Both restaurants had their own gardens," he says, "and we specialized in game from early on. I recall having trouble just finding pheasant or moullard duck breasts to buy. Now game is readily available through mail order or by the vast amount of small, specialized farming ranging from pheasant, ducks (for meat as well as foie gras), on up to venison, elk and buffalo.
"Once each month, in the fall and early winter, we offered a fixed-price game dinner. This tradition began when we discovered there was a keen interest in wild game cuisine. I also have an interest in Native America so we often combined the two with exhibits of art and artifacts in the restaurant, or my own works on display."
His love for hunting and fishing, developed since childhood, led him to the art of cooking wild game. Showing his respect, he writes of the pheasant as "nature's feathered jewel" and his paintings and drawings show the same esteem for these wild creatures that his recipes do. The combination of ingredients, right down to the selection of the wine, emphasize an attention to detail in all the flavors. It is no wonder that this same man was honored for a seemingly unglamorous pork sandwich—whatever he did to it earned him the Grand National Award from the Pork Producers Council of America, and a tidy sum of cash which, we are told, went right back into the kitchen.
John Manikowski is author of the Wild Fish and Game Cookbook, a large, handsome tome published by Artisan Press in Fall, 1997. It contains over 100 recipes, dozens of stories and of course his own original artwork.
This page modified November 2006
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