by Nancy Stiles
These days, it's all about eating local. For the 26th annual Beast Feast on December 13, Missourians go super local: The dinner is based around wild game donated by local hunters. Hosted by Stone Hill Winery (1110 Stone Hill Highway; 800-909-9463) in Hermann, the terroir-heavy fundraiser benefits the Gateway Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, they're hoping to raise $20,000 -- all with some barbecue pulled raccoon. (OK, and some other stuff too).
The Held family, who owns Stone Hill, lost their grandson James to leukemia in 1988 -- that's why they're so passionate about the Beast Feast. "Leukemia is still the number-one killer of of people under the age of twenty, and this event works to bring awareness to that and toward changing that," Leukemia Society marketing manager Kelly Wahl tells Gut Check.
Last year the menu included crawfish, venison, rabbit, wild hog, catfish, squirrels and raccoon. Local hunters coordinate with Stone Hill and donate all the game that is used, so the menu really depends on what is donated this year. Then the Stone Hill chefs work with what is available to make a delicious meal. And of course, Stone Hill provides the wine.
"They really have a lot of different food items that you wouldn't think of putting together, but these chefs come up with a great presentation," says Ashley Carlson, special events campaign managers at LLS. "It's definitely that kind of event where it's OK for you to go back to the buffet and get seconds."
The night begins with a silent auction and appetizers. The live auction begins during dinner, with a father-son auctioneer team. Many of the auction items are donated by Hermann businesses, like bed and breakfast stays, wildlife prints and older vintages of Stone Hill wine.
"One-hundred percent of it goes back to our mission. All the money we raise locally stays local," Wahl says, though the LLS Gateway Chapter serves a larger area, including parts of Illinois and Arkansas. "We've raised $11.6 million for local researchers at Wash. U. and SLU -- that's another big reason why Stone Hill really wants to get involved and help our cause."
Tickets, which include appetizers, drinks and dinner, require a $60 donation. Reservations are required; call the LLS at 1-800-264-2873.