Summer is the best season for foraging, when beach plums and wild grapes are ripe for the picking, and black walnuts fall from the neighbor’s tree. Violet Cabot would know. She spent much of the summer foraging with her family, scouring the landscape for rare berries and searching the swamps of Aquinnah for watercress.

A sixth grader at the West Tisbury school, Violet has been preparing for the big event of the fall — the Local Wild Food Challenge, which will be held at the Edgartown Rod and Gun Club on Columbus Day. Foraging is hard work, she said, but it pays off when the dish is served.


Underneath the green canopy at the Wild Food challenge held at the Rod and Gun Club in Edgartown last Monday, Harbor View chefs Shaun Sells and Nathan Gould, dressed in sleek black uniforms, hovered over their chopping boards, quietly and meticulously slicing smoked striper. Nearby, 11-year-old Rose Herman and 10-year-old Violet Cabot drizzled a beach plum vinaigrette on their watercress salad to accompany a slice of acorn squash and a filet of bluefish.



For the wild food crowd, grocery shopping begins when you leave the supermarket. On the other side of those automatic sliding doors is a diffuse (and free) marketplace filled with geese, berries, turtles, seaweed, deer, scallops and basically anything else you can digest. This Sunday marks the second annual Martha’s Vineyard Local Wild Food Challenge, and organizer and chef Bill Manson has imported the resourceful philosophy of the hunter-gatherer from his native New Zealand. The contest takes place at the Rod and Gun Club in Edgartown, beginning at 4 p.m.



They’d chewed through the conch ceviche. They’d done the pot-roasted homegrown rabbit with Vineyard apple and sage sauce over garden-dug fingerling potatoes. They’d downed beach plum jelly, beach plum syrup, beach plum soy aioli and beach plum compote on dishes sweet and savory, and even Concord grapes on a vindaloo.

By the time the 33rd and final entry in Monday’s Wild Food Challenge was placed before the tasting panel at Détente, the three judges were relieved to find it was a digestif.

On your mark, get set, hunt and gather. That’s right: Foraging is king at the Wild Food Challenge taking place at Détente Restaurant this Monday, Oct. 4.

All those prepackaged, easy to bake, box-of-ingredients dishes are getting kicked to the curb.