Venison: The Game Larder – Jose Souto Shares his Game Knowledge

What Jose Souto doesn’t know about game probably isn’t worth knowing.

And now he is sharing his knowledge in his new book – Venison: The Game Larder.

The former House of Commons (HOC) chef, and lecturer at the Westminster Kingsway College has gained a reputation as one of the leading game experts in the country.

In 2004 Jose wrote a training manual on Game for the trainee chefs at the HOC and due to this he was asked to give a lecture back at the college where he started. A year later Jose took up a lecturing post at Westminster Kingsway College one of most highly regarded Catering Colleges in the UK. Every year for the last 9 years Jose has conducted two “Game Seminars” during the game season. These are attended by many different people, from those with an interest in game and the countryside to chefs and representatives from all areas of the food industry.

The idea for Venison: The Game Larder came after Jose met top food photographer Steve Lee. Impressed with Jose’s knowledge and passion for game, Steve suggested that they should work together to produce a book on the subject.

Jose jpegIt soon became apparent however, that there was too much material for just one book, and they decided instead to produce three, the first dedicated to venison, the second to focus on feathered game, and the third would deal with small furred game.

Putting together Venison: A Game Larder became a true labour of love, taking eight years to complete, but the end result is a comprehensive guide to venison covering everything from provenance and the importance of herd management to step-by-step guides to butchery and recipes.

“Each different species is dealt with individually,” explains Jose. “Right down to the size of the carcass from a chef’s perspective – so how many portions it would provide and the shot location.

“The book is very factual, but it’s not blood and guts. It won’t offend anyone, just educate.

“It is also very arty. There are some wonderful photographs in there. It’s a book you can keep on your coffee table and anyone can enjoy.”

There is a wide range of recipes in the book, some created by Jose and others contributed by top chefs including Tom Kerridge, Phil Vickery and Peter Gordon.

“I have been lucky enough to work with some great chefs,” said Jose. “And when they heard about the book many of them said they would help me. I asked 13 of them to submit a recipe and a bit about how we met etc. I was expecting maybe around eight of them to reply, but in the end all 13 of them got back to me!

“I also wanted to bring in some of my ex students as I have taught some great guys over the years including Henry Herbert and Mark Froydenlund, so I asked them to give their opinions of venison and its uses.”

One part of the book which Jose feels is especially important is the section on deer management.

“In the UK we no longer have any predator species to prey on venison because we got rid of all the bears and wolves and lynxes,” he explains. “We have a moral obligation to manage them.

“It is also a very ethical way of harvesting. The deer have not been put in trucks and transported anywhere, or put on a stainless steel gangway to be shot. The deer spend all their life living outside in the countryside doing what they are supposed to do. And there’s no suffering or stress when they are killed.

“Some people challenge that, but I don’t understand their argument. They eat chickens and look at how so much of our chicken is produced.”

Venison: The Game Larder was launched on the 1st of August and is available in all good book shops with singed copies available from Jose by direct messaging him on Twitter @wildfoodboy for details of how to buy.

Jose is now about to begin work on the second book in the series, Feathers, which he expects to take around two years to complete.