My name is Hank Shaw. I write. I fish. I dig earth, forage, raise plants, live for food and kill wild animals. I drink Balvenie, Barolo or Budweiser with equal relish and sometimes wish I owned a large swath of land I could play on. I spend my days thinking about new ways to cook and eat anything that walks, flies, swims, crawls, skitters, jumps – or grows. I am the omnivore who has solved his dilemma. This is my story.
Honest food is what I seek. Nothing packaged, nothing in a box, nothing wrapped in plastic. I eat meat, and I’m not keen on factory farms, so I either hunt it myself or, rarely. buy it from real people who raise animals humanely. Other than pork fat for charcuterie and the occasional octopus, I have not bought meat or fish for our home more than a handful of times since 2005. I am a constant forager, angler, hunter, gardener and fan of farmer’s markets. Eating locally and making good food from scratch is what I do. Seasonality rules my diet: In winter, I would rather eat a well-cooked turnip than asparagus from Chile.
I am especially interested in those meats and veggies that people don’t eat much any more, like pigeons or shad or cardoons. I have nothing against good grass-fed beef or a head of lettuce, it’s just that others are doing just fine writing about those foods. I’m trying to walk a less-traveled path.
Who the hell am I? I am a former restaurant cook, I’ve caught fish and dug clams for a living and, after 19 years as a political reporter for newspapers ranging from New York to Virginia to Wisconsin, Minnesota and California, I now pay the bills writing about food, fishing, foraging and hunting. On occasion, I also cater events around Northern California and beyond.
As a food writer, my work has been published in Food & Wine, Petersen’s Hunting, Organic Gardening, The Art of Eating, Field and Stream, Sactown, Pheasants Forever magazine, Delta Waterfowl Magazine and several other publications. I was written up in the March 2009 issue of Field & Stream magazine for my wild game cookery, which was an honor.
I’ve been featured on a few TV shows, too. I’ve been on Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods America,” and have been on Steve Rinella’s “Meateater” and Scott Leysath’s “The Sporting Chef.” I will be featured on Mike Rowe’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” in spring 2015.
My first book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast, was released in 2011 by Rodale Books. My hope is that the book will help open the world of foraging, hunting and fishing to those interested in food, but who may have never hunted mushrooms or picked up a gun or cast a rod and reel before.
It is also my hope that hunters who want to expand their skills to foraging, or anglers who want to hunt, or foragers who want to fish, will find value in this book.
My second book, Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Ducks and Geese, both Wild and Domesticated, was released by Ten Speed Press in October 2013. This book I hope will be useful both to waterfowl hunters and home cooks alike. I tried to include everything you’d want to know about cooking ducks and geese, and the recipes work just as well for store-bought birds as wild ones.
I am working on a third book, dealing with venison, to be published soon.
I was honored to win a Bert Greene Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals for Best Food Blog in both 2010 and 2011. In addition, a story I contributed to for Field & Stream was nominated for an American Society of Magazine Editors award in 2010, and my foraging column in Sactown magazine won a national award by the society for city and regional magazines in 2014.
I’ve also been featured twice in the book Best Food Writing by Da Capo Press. An essay I wrote on this site, “On Killing,” was included in Best Food Writing 2012, and another piece from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, “An Awful Mercy,” was included in Best Food Writing 2013.
I teach classes on foraging, butchery, and on narrower topics such as cooking fish and seafood to wild game and sausage-making. I’ve taught large, seminar-style classes for 100, down to private, one-on-one instruction. Cost depends on time, location and size of the class. Email me at the contact below for details.
I take select catering gigs both in Northern California and beyond, although if you want me to cook for you that’s more than a couple hours away from Sacramento, you will need to pay my travel expenses in addition to any catering costs. I specialize in high-end dinner parties for 4 to 20 people, but if you want to throw a larger, lower key party I’ve been know to do a few of those, too. No weddings, though. Sorry. If you are interested, email me at the contact below.
To reach me, email scrbblr AT hotmail DOT com
ABOUT THE PICTURES
While I do take some of the pictures on this site, the vast majority (and all of the really good ones!) of the images you see here are taken by my partner, Holly A. Heyser.
Holly is a hunting writer, now editor of the California Waterfowl Association’s magazine. She’s also a professional food photographer and until recently was the professional journalist in residence at her alma mater, California State University Sacramento. You can find her photography at HeyserPhoto.com.
Contact Holly at heyserphoto AT gmail DOT com.