Local Wild Food Challenge ~ Keep Wild Part Tree

30 blogs!?! Pause that celebration. Let’s hold on to that feeling and release it when I hit 50. How many weeks in a year? 52? Creepy and convenient Google and Siri are going to automatically tell me. 52, confirmed. I’ll get excited at 52 because that will have been a year’s worth of me showering you with my random-ADD-slap-happy-thoughts.

Speaking of random, I had a spontaneous shoot come about a few years ago. Kimi Werner and her assistant Sarah Wilcox were headed to Maui for a weekend for the first Local Wild Food Challenge and asked me to come along. Yes! I’m travel-size! After packing my not so travel-size sport tube, pelican case, change of skivvies, and camera gear we boarded a glorified puddle jumper flight to Maui.

The first day was spent gathering ingredients, aka, fishing. We woke up early, met up with friends, Lauren Spalding and Colten DeCoite, and headed to the harbor to meet Lauren’s Dad, Mike, at his boat (he was our ride). We shot some Keep Wild photos en-route to our first location then geared up and jumped into the water. The water was clear; but, seemingly fishless. 

With nary a fish in sight, we headed to our next spot which turned out to be considerably murkier. However, as daylight was dwindling, we decided to embrace the murk in pursuit of the fish. Within the next hour, we were plus two. After clambering onto the boat with a Papio and Goat Fish, we made tracks back to the harbor. Along the way a Mahi made a poor life choice and Colten reeled him in as Kimi patiently waited with the gaff to bring it onboard.

Colten DeCoite, Lauren Spalding, Mike Spalding, Kimi Werner, Sarah Wilcox

Kimi and Colten

Lauren, Kimi, Sarah

The second day, Sarah and I scouted Kimi’s parents’ house for Keep Wild photos and made an impromptu shoot come to life then documented Kimi cleaning the fish for the competition. I can’t emphasize enough how fascinating fish are. Their scales, the colors, every subtlety that makes each species unique. We finished that day with a trip to a friend’s garden for more ingredient collecting. 

The third day was spent doing food prep in the morning and then heading to the challenge site. Why are food competitions awesome? Is that even a question? You get to eat the creations of chefs that make delicious food. It’s like the top tier version of the sample tables at Costco. Nothing disappointed. Kimi had her work cut out for her. She took the pressure in stride and ran away with the win for Best in Water. Her entry ‘Keiki’s Catch’ was fish three ways: raw, steamed, and cooked which included Papio Tataki with ponzu and wild herb, stuffed Mahi, steamed Goat Fish with foraged nasturtium, broccoli flowers, purple mizuna, and Hawaiian chili pepper. Aka, funking delicious.

One Fish, Two, Fish, Red Fish, Funk Fish!

Dear Reader, that catchy closing line is under construction as there is no named Funk species yet and Dr. Suess was better than rhyming than that or it may endure the test of time, stay tuned, dun dun dun

Kimi, Chris & June