Chef David Guas is owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Virginia. He has passed on his love for hunting to his son Kemp. Guas has taught his son to harvest ethically, to offer thanks to the fowl that’s given its life, and to honor each one by preparing the whole bird to eat. He shares is recipe for Wild Duck Gumbo.
—William Hereford Photo
Chef passes down traditions of hunting to son
In the August/September issue of Covey Rise magazine, David Guas, the down-to-earth television personality and chef, whose Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery is a popular fixture in northern Virginia, tells the narrative of his infatuation with hunting and its way of life that took hold when he was a child in southern Louisiana.
As the opening of hunting season approaches in November, the passing on to the next generation takes hold as Guas shares this story along with his 18-year-old son, Kemp — and trusted partner in the field, Roux.
Guas has taught his son to harvest ethically, to offer thanks to the fowl that’s given its life, and to honor each one by preparing the whole bird to eat, according to the simoneink news release. Together, they share the 3:30 AM departures and the rituals of the hunt, continue to learn from the older guys in the blind, and supply the family table with savory goodness.
Growing up, Guas and his father hunted doves in Mississippi and ducks in Louisiana; he fondly recalls the .410 cracker barrel single-shot his dad gave him for Christmas when he was about 10 years old. Nowadays, he typically buys into a shared lease out in Rock Hall, Maryland, about two hours from home, raising his son in the time-honored tradition that engages him with the great outdoors, fellow sportsmen, and a valued source of sustenance.
As a chef known for his Southern-style comfort food, Guas recognizes it would be all too easy to present his son with an artificially luxurious hunting experience.
“I’m packing the hot coffee, the home-cured jerky, the pepper jelly and all the other goodies. It could be a fairly cushy excursion if we were just hanging in the blind snacking with our buddies,” he said. “The camaraderie is important, but it’s not the whole deal. I make sure we put in several good days of hard labor on the property prior to the season.
“Months later, Kemp can take pride in having cut those cedars down, dug that hole, cleared a view - the chores continue. He also knows his way around plucking, gutting, and breaking down a duck or a goose. Having a real hand in producing your own food delivers a sense of satisfaction and pride far beyond the exhilaration of a good shot or a full bag.”
These traditions are how a lot of the family heritage and wisdom are kept alive.
The story concludes with a recipe of Wild Duck Gumbo, a mainstay of hunting season as perfected by Guas’ Aunt Boo from Abbeville, Louisiana. “Duck is what I grew up eating. What chicken is to others, Duck is the go to for supper in our house,” said Guas. “Local hunters would drop off a few birds, and she’d have the gumbo ready for them in a day or two. It’s such a beautiful, basic, strictly seasonal arrangement, that’s mutually dependent and mutually beneficial. You don’t see much of that in the big city, but down on the Bayou, it’s all part of the ritual.”
—Covey Rise is a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to the upland lifestyle. Subscribe here to read upcoming story with Chef David Guas and his son, Kemp, and hunting friend and yellow lab, Roux.
WILD DUCK GUMBO
1 lb., 8 oz. duck meat, smoked
5 quarts water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups sweet onion, diced
1 cup green bell peppers, diced
½ cup celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
¼ cup (plus more for garnish) green onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
¾ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. andouille sausage, half-moon-style slices
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
½ cup cooked rice, per serving
Green onions, chopped for garnish
1. Pick, by hand, as much meat as is possible off the bones of the smoked duck; reserve. Separate the white meat and dark meat.
2. Place the bones in a stockpot and fill with 5 quarts of cold water. Place on stove over medium-high heat and cover. Once the water starts to boil, remove lid and lower to medium heat; let simmer for 1 hour, while preparing the roux.
3. Add vegetable oil to an 8- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 4-quart cast-iron Dutch oven, over medium heat. Once the vegetable oil is fairly hot, whisk in the all-purpose flour.
Using a wooden spoon, begin the incredible life-changing process of “stirring da roux.” Continue to stir on medium heat until the roux takes on the color of the Bayou after a heavy rain. Note: If you’re not sure what the Bayou looks like after a rain, it should look like the color of peanut butter.
4. Once the roux is ready, transfer it to a cast-iron pot or a 4- to 6-quart stockpot. Add onions and stir for 45 seconds. Then add bell peppers and celery, stirring for another 45 seconds to a minute. Add the garlic.
5. Once the stock has simmered for 1 hour, strain through a fine mesh sieve. Add stock, one quart at a time, to the hot vegetable roux, constantly stirring. Only put a total of 2½ quarts of stock in at first.
6. Add bay leaves, green onion, parsley and cayenne. Simmer over medium heat for at least 2 hours. Note: If the gumbo is too thick you can always add a little more of the duck stock.
7. Meanwhile in a separate sauté pan, brown the andouille sausage for about 6 to 8 minutes on medium-high heat. Add it directly to the simmering pot of gumbo. Then, add the reserved white and dark duck meat. Taste and adjust with salt as desired.
Ladle the gumbo into small serving bowls. Add about ½ cup of cooked rice on top. Garnish with a sprinkle of green onions.
Serves 10 to 12
Recipe by Chef David Guas.