In bright spring sunshine, 16 of Cornwall?s top chefs gathered last month for the first-ever Cornwall Chefs? Clay Shooting Challenge at the Colquite shooting estate on beautiful Bodmin Moor, in Cornwall. The impressive turnout showed how much support there is for shooting and game among the county?s top chefs.

The group ranged from novices to accomplished Shots. It included Paul Ainsworth, who runs the restaurants Number 6 and Rojano?s in Padstow and has appeared on the BBC television series Great British Menu; Jack Stein, son of Rick Stein and chef at Stein?s restaurants; Michelin-starred Chris Eden of the Driftwood restaurant in Portscatho; and Andy Chown from Jamie Oliver?s Fifteen Cornwall in Watergate Bay.

We organised the day as part of Country Sports South West, the £1.6million, three-year tourism and fieldsports project being delivered by BASC. Many local chefs are passionate about game, so we decided to hold an event better to inform them where game comes from and to introduce to shooting those who hadn?t tried the sport before.

Shotgun coaches set up the traps in the fields and were on hand to provide lessons and advice. The owner of the estate, Countess Pinky Le Grelle, a British shooting champion, prepared lunch in the shooting lodge kitchen. The chefs were greeted by representatives from Cornwall Food & Drink, a network for food industry businesses in the region.

Ploughing ahead

Competition was fierce and after a final intense shoot-off between the last three, Ben Palmer, head chef at The Plough in Duloe, Cornwall was announced as the winner.

Ben, who recently competed on MasterChef: The Professionals, said: ?It was a really enjoyable day, sharing cooking tips and recipes while shooting with other great local chefs. It was also good to learn how to source game correctly.?

With the shooting over, the hungry chefs headed back to the shooting lodge, where Countess Le Grelle was waiting with delicious appetisers of wild boar and venison pâté.

?Shooting is worth £270million a year to the South-West?s economy,? said Annette Cole, senior manager of Country Sports South West, ?and we are working to make the shooting and eating of game a greater draw to the area. The more chefs we have on board, the more this will help us to promote the nutritional and sustainable values of game, which will encourage more people to try it. We now need to build on the success of the day. Who knows, we might have created a chefs? shooting syndicate for the South-West.?

Ruth Huxley, managing director of Cornwall Food & Drink, noted the rising interest in game that she is experiencing: ?We have noticed many more chefs in Cornwall using game on their menus recently, reflecting its value, versatility and increasing popularity with diners.?

Not only is Country Sports South West working to increase game meat consumption in the region, but we are also collaborating with both game meat suppliers and shoots to develop links between them. As part of the programme, our development officers are helping shoots and other businesses, such as fisheries and riding establishments, to enhance facilities and develop their businesses so we can create a premier tourism destination for country sports in the South-West.