Shawn Bailey is the star of Game On! From Prep-To-Plate in 30 Minutes. We’ve had the pleasure of featuring his recipes and videos on The Food Channel since 2016. Bailey is a cooking and outdoor enthusiast who draws on his experiences with hunting, fishing and foraging to create his delicious recipes and informational videos. He credits his family teachings for his expertise on the topic. Bailey uses humor, quick wit, and an extensive knowledge of the outdoors to expertly host the show we have grown to love. To receive frequent updates from Game On! head to their Facebook and sign up for their Newsletter.
What’s your favorite thing to do when filming your show?
Meeting and learning from people, talking to them about their cooking, foraging and hunting experiences gives me a sense of humbleness. There is a lot to learn when it comes to cooking with wild game and foraged foods; I don’t know it all. For example, last year Game On! Prep to Plate in 30 Minutes was invited to the Easton Waterfowl Festival to conduct the first ever cooking demonstrations because of our specialty—wild game. I spent two days demonstrating how to make Mediterranean Grilled Goose; A recipe that I developed.
In keeping with the learning theme; this past Thanksgiving I invited Janelle Cohn from Janelle’s Pastries onto the show in order to learn some baking techniques. I am not a baker, but I learned many tips and techniques about baking pies that I now use. Plus we had a great time and the Ultimate Pumpkin Pie episode turned out great.
Who were your early cooking influencers?
I always loved to cook. My father, grandfather, and uncles were all into hunting, fishing, and foraging and cooked what they harvested. I remember growing up seeing them make wonderful meals from wild ingredients and my best memories were sharing those meals with family at the farm we use as a hunting lodge. They inspired me to not only hunt and fish but to constantly look for new ways to cook what I caught, and they also instilled in me a love for sharing what I make with others.
What made you want to have your own cooking show?
A friend introduced me to Kevin Askew and Sean Whelan who were developing an idea for a wild game cooking show. They were searching for a host and we all met and it just seemed to click. They liked the fact that I had a strong family connection to harvesting and cooking wild foods and they also liked that my dishes are simple yet have gourmet quality, we developed a saying, Prep-to-Plate in 30 Minutes and we mostly keep to that.
How did you come up with the name for your show?
If you have watched any of my episodes you see that I strive to keep it simple. That’s why the show is called, Game On! Prep-to-Plate in 30 Minutes. I want people to try my dishes! I want them to experiment with my recipes, make them their own. I really want people to see that food is all around them and that nothing is more satisfying than cooking and preparing food that you gathered yourself. Even if you don’t hunt or fish you can go out and forage for mushrooms, wild berries, watercress, or a lot of other healthy ingredients and have fun doing it.
Do you have a favorite food-related childhood memory?
It would have to be the time spent with my dad and brother hunting, fishing and trapping. I didn’t totally appreciate those days until later in life. Now when I am out in the woods with my daughter or by myself, I often think back to those days and am grateful for every moment. But I am also filled with many fond memories of my grandpa cooking at the farm.
A lot of people think it’s hard to make a wholesome meal from items you’ve foraged, hunted or fished for. What would you tell those people?
People who have never cooked with wild game are going to find out by watching the show. It’s just like cooking with any other food, and there are some tips that I share that will make wild game and foraged food taste even better than what you get from the store. I also want hunters and fishermen to try new things too. A lot of sportsmen get stuck making burgers, sausage, and jerky, which is great, but they are really missing out on what can be done with wild food.
What are some of your favorite dishes to make?
I just like to cook! By default, venison is one of the most popular wild game animals in the United States. So it’s one of the meats that I concentrate on. In fact, my Bacon Wrapped Venison episode involves a simple way to really increase the flavor of the meat while making it almost impossible to overcook it. I want to emphasize that it’s not just venison. I have great recipes and have cooked trout and salmon, I have foraged and cooked cattails, foraged and used wild leeks, made black walnut pesto sauce, and many others. The recipes can be seen on our website;www.gameoncooking.com, or on foodchannel.com.
When you aren’t in the kitchen, what else do you like to do?
I play my guitar and dabble in songwriting. I also enjoy hiking with my family and friends. I enjoy archery hunting, fishing and just being outdoors. I did get a little teary-eyed this past year when my daughter asked if we could go fishing like we did when she was younger. So I guess I am doing something right.
What makes your show different from other cooking shows out there?
The idea of Prep-to-Plate in 30 Minutes using our signature four categories of ingredients: Fur, Feather, Fin and Forage. Game On! Prep to Plate in 30 Minutes demonstrates that you don’t have to be a hunter, you don’t have to be a forager, and you don’t have to fish. You just need to like food! Game On! is different because we embrace what has been happening for ages – providing for your family.
Whether providing means you are an avid hunter that fills the freezer every year, you’re a mushroomer and you have your secret spots that only you know about, or you grow your own fresh vegetables and herbs in the family garden. Maybe you just purchase fresh meats and vegetable from the local grocer and want to add a few wild ingredients every now and then, on Game On! we cover all those categories.
What are your best and worst traits?
Best – I love to cook and I think food is the best way to make friends and the best way to keep families connected. I also think traditions are important; those little rituals that unite generations and make each family unique. In addition to family traditions, I also incorporate traditional foods into my cooking like fresh caught fish, wild game, and foraged edibles. I like to have fun; laugh, joke, sing, and play guitar, whatever it takes for a good time and makes people happy. The four essential ingredients in life are music, laughter, food, and family.
Worst – I can butcher a deer and fillet a fish but I have also been accused of butchering the English language. I may use the wrong word or use the right word the wrong way but it all comes from my simple upbringing in rural Pennsylvania.
I’ve been told I tend to get side-tracked engaging someone in conversation and I do find a reason to talk to anyone at any time, even when I should be concentrating on something else. I’m also guilty of using bacon way-too-much in my recipes (is there such a thing as too much bacon?).