Game birds, that is what he has been doing for the last 15 years. He breeds partridges, guinea fowls, pheasants and quails (Japanese and Californian).
I meet him over a year a go, when we were doing our supper clubs and I was in the first stages of building a good list of suppliers, it was the end of the season so I just got the last 10 guinea fowls. Amazing experience to pluck those birds (last time for me was doves in Mugaritz 2009) served the leg including their claw in a private party of 20 (saying farewell to lifelong friends who were out to sail around the world after loosing their business in the 2011 earthquake)… there are people who remember that party just because of that dish.
This year we manage to get 20 guinea fowls, 15 japanese quails and 10 pheasants. Even the feathers got used at my daughter’s pre-school. We order birds on the weekend and he delivers them on thursday, the day after the kill, we hang them from 3 to 7 days, we pluck them, clean them, separate the gizzards, and then we decide what to do with the meat. Amazing and surprising taste and texture, it is not a normal item in restaurants (here) so we really want the people to know about these birds. Sometimes we get to show the fresh bird to the customer so they can understand the work involved and why we do the whole process.
Woodfield Gamebirds is a small operation of one person, less than 40 km away from the restaurant, he normally sells the birds to hunting lodges around the South Island and we are the only restaurant that serves what he cares for with his hands.
I asked John if there is another restaurant using his birds… No… why? There are restaurants always calling me but they don’t want to do the job that you do. I know why.