Superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will never forget his days hunting for boar with his father in the forests of northeastern Alsace, where he grew up. On these hunting expeditions, two lines of men converged on a wild pig, closing in on the animal and each other. One day Vongerichten watched as his father was shot in the arm. He was eight years old.
As shocking as the accident must have been, Vongerichten was not put off hunting. He continued to hunt with his father; his mother gave him lessons in cooking game. When he took a job at the Michelin three-starred Auberge de l'Ill in Alsace in 1973, at the age of 16, one of his first chores was to pluck and skin the quail, partridge, rabbit and venison that local hunters brought to the kitchen.
Today, Vongerichten doesn't have much time to hunt, as he's kept busy managing his growing empire of 18 restaurants. Recently, however, he took a rare mini-vacation in Texas with his right-hand man, Daniel Del Vecchio, and business partner Phil Suarez to brush up on his shooting skills. His hunting buddy was Bryan Caswell, chef de cuisine at three-year-old Bank Jean-Georges in Houston.