How a chef cooks the deer he hunts, from pot roast sliders to venison koobideh [Q&A, recipes] | Food

With experience in fine dining kitchens as well as kitchens like the family-owned Greenfield Restaurant in Lancaster, the executive chef of events at TFB Catering in Lititz has made cooking his life.

However, Rafe Hottenstein also loves the outdoors. In the corner of his work kitchen in Lititz, you can usually find his camo Crocs and a First Lite camo “Bear Grease” ball cap. As a new father, he prioritizes time with his young family. But he still carves out time to pursue pheasants, wild turkey and, of course, deer.

So, what does a trained chef like Hottenstein, who makes inspired dishes for work, make when he’s not working? Turns out he cooks dishes just as elevated at home, too. If you’ve got the desire to step up your venison game for the dinner table, here is how Hottenstein prepares deer from his hunts, including a few of his favorite recipes — and what keeps him going back for seconds.

Want to learn more about preparing veison? See our guide to different types of cuts here.

What do you like about wild venison as an ingredient?

It’s obviously fun to hunt, be outdoors and enjoy nature, but I especially like killing and processing my own deer. I like to provide for my family and have readily available meat throughout the year. When you cook venison or game meat that you killed yourself, you have a story to tell every time you eat meat that makes a meal 100 times tastier.

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