Changing the Game

Non-Fiction - Cooking/Food
290 Pages
Reviewed on 04/01/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Changing the Game by Craig J. Tomsky is a lifestyle sport and cookbook that centers around hunting both large and small quarry as a food source, provided from the experience of an author whose roots in sourcing, preparing, storing, and successfully consuming game are generations deep. Tomsky begins with a bit of backstory on learning from his family and the desire to pay it forward for his own and all of ours. His game plan is comprehensive and begins with a well-placed shot and the harvest, what needs to be done straight away and what can wait a little while longer. He then moves into successful and safe field dressing. From here, Tomsky walks us through a range of information including tools of the trade, cooling and butchering for optimal taste and texture, processing and packaging, preparation and pairing, and a ton of incredible recipes among many, many other things.

My introduction to hunting came in very much the same manner that Craig Tomsky's wife, Susan, was introduced to it as well. My wife does not hunt herself but her family is passionate about harvesting their own meat whenever possible, and along with that came countless meals that were prepared from this natural bounty. Changing the Game truly is a game-changer and Tomsky really is something of an encyclopedia on the subject, which bodes well in both the narrative and the authenticity of how he conveys the hows-and-whys of such a complex subject matter. His passion threads through the pages with consistency and conviction that is frequently lost in books intent on offering sound and professional guidance. The passing down of knowledge is capped off beautifully with Italian recipes that include recommended sides and wine pairings, but the real treasure is the stories behind each one of them. Ma's Cacciatore is definitely in our future and this is a lifestyle book that is easy to recommend.

John Tolochko

A book on butchering, preserving, and cooking should not be this entertaining. Much attention has been paid to the flow, layout, and presentation to the reader, to make for a book that can be read straight through, or used as a reference manual, to quickly become a student of Tomsky’s tried-and-proven expertise. He shares with us his decades of knowledge on butchering, freezing, proper kitchen tools, and of course, cooking and complete meal preparations. He goes further to add recipes for mixed drinks, a lesson on wine, and a thorough discussion on side dishes and desserts. The closer you read, the more likely you are to be entertained, to laugh frequently, and to get to know Craig’s family along the journey. You meet his wife and other family members, but most honor and respect is given to his mother, obviously his biggest influence. We should all have such a great source of traditional old-world cooking. Along with his own creativity, Tomsky brings these traditions to us in this book.

I think it would be fun to follow Craig through the entire process from field to fork, based on nothing more than his passion alone. I’m sure the meal experience would match that of any great restaurant. I look forward to choosing a recipe and putting together my first meal, Craig’s way. And even if you’re a vegetarian and don’t cook, or even if you don’t have a kitchen, the section on mixed drinks is well worth the price of admission. You might want to read that section first.

Laurel English

Let me start by saying that I’m not a hunter, have never eaten game, and will absolutely NEVER butcher an animal myself. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Craig Tomsky’s book Changing the Game and would recommend it to anyone who loves good food, good wine, and good recipes. Every meat recipe includes options for game and more traditional store-bought meat.

The stories behind how Tomsky developed each recipe made for an interesting read, and included anecdotes about his Italian/Sicilian family and his friends. Each recipe draws on his family’s culinary heritage and his own scientific background. He explains the importance of each ingredient, and the subtle differences between similar-sounding ones (such as sea salt and table salt). The recipe instructions are clear and easy to follow – a must for any cookbook. It would have been helpful to have the amount of prep and cooking time clearly spelled out along with the ingredients.

In addition to recipes for meat dishes, the book includes recipes for side dishes and fancy drinks. My son is looking forward to trying “Craig’s Key Lime Pie Drink” this summer! Tomsky also includes suggestions for wines to pair with each dish.

The book includes detailed information for hunters about butchering techniques. I did not read this section in depth (there is a helpful “Warning” label for non-hunters), but I did read far enough to learn that proper butchering can make a huge difference in the taste of meat. I never realized this before.

The book is well organized and visually appealing, with high-quality photos, easy-to-read type, and easy-to-follow instructions.

Gail Petersen

I consider myself an adventurous and good cook. I’ve baked whole salmon and cooked wild goose. But I definitely received an education on cooking game from Craig Tomsky’s book. No matter how accomplished you are, cooking game meat is not for the faint of heart…or those without experience. This cookbook gave me the confidence and knowledge to prepare, cook and serve delicious wild game meals. From wood to wine to rubs and fires – I have a new comfort and am eager to try many of the recipes.

Patti Wild

Author Craig Tomsky has composed a gem of a read in his new book, "Changing the Game." Craig has blended his humor, knowledge and education to create a fun journey that will take you from "field to fork" entertaining and enlightening you along the way. Whether you're an open-minded beginner, a straight arrow steak lover, or someone more experienced in cooking with game, you will love this book. Craig has covered it all, with wonderful wine pairing suggestions, seasoning tips, recipes - it's all here. Wonderful addition to my collection!

Marlene Kosinski

I found Changing The Game by Craig Tomsky to be a very different kind of cookbook, not only for its subject matter but how it is presented. It is very obvious that a tremendous amount of research went into writing this book. What I liked most are the specific explanations as to why certain approaches were taken; an example is the section on “Deboning to Eliminate Bone Marrow’s Impact”, which shows how passionate Tomsky is with achieving optimal flavor. As I read the book, I felt like a chef instructor was demonstrating how to prepare the recipes in front of me. The narrative was very interactive. There were numerous suggestions on how recipes could be modified for personal flavor profiles. I found this unique for a cookbook; normally there is no discussion on modifications to a recipe. The book as a whole is an easy read and, with the suggestions of non-game meats given, is a great addition to anyone’s cookbook library!

BK Boardman

Cookbook Lovers, Rejoice! Game Hunters, Indulge! Epicureans/Gourmands, Delight! And Vegetarians, Beware!

Craig Tomsky's CHANGING THE GAME is is a game changer for one and all; it just might convert non-meat eaters into carnivores. The author's expertise and passion, his love and respect for family traditions, and his story-telling skill, all shine through every page and photograph.

Though not a hunter in the least, as an avid cookbook collector and chef wanna-be, I was fascinated by the education and enlightenment Tomsky provides of preparation and techniques to 'Change the Game'-iness. Who knew? And the fact that these recipes are adaptable to supermarket cuts, makes this volume a no-brainer.

The easy, explicit instructions, interesting tips, fun anecdotes, delicious side dishes, as well as yummy drink suggestions and wine pairings, all add up to an entertaining, highly recommended, must-have read for every food-lover or cook.

David Van Moffaert

Changjng The Game is a cook book that has it all. Throughout the journey of harvesting wild game from field to fork, Tomsky gives thoughtful and scientific insights along with self-humiliating humor that makes it a joy to read. Not only is this book informative, it is entertaining. A cook book usually isnt a page turner, but I found myself not being able to put this down because I wanted to hear the next story of how and why a drink or recipe came to be. Tomsky does a great job looping in his personal experience and family culture into this book that makes it relatable to anyone who reads it.

Sandra Gurcak

I haven’t seen a book which is so diverse in content and covers each aspect in a very detailed manner. Even if you don’t hunt, this book contains so many tips and offers many years of experience in food prep, cooking (including Italian family recipes!) and even drinks. Craig Tomsky not only covers the how but also the why. His sense of humor and wit make it personal and will make you smile. Craig is a “Jersey guy” through and through and Changing the Game is a book you will reference time and time again.

Barbara Ross

Craig Tomsky is a natural storyteller with a great sense of humor (evident in the LOL names for some of his recipes) and a scientist’s attention to details. Love of food and family come through on every page. If you’re not a hunter, or even a carnivore, you’ll find imaginative recipes for mixed drinks, sauces and side-dishes – along with mouth-watering photography.

Mike Innamorato

“Changing the Game” gave me a different perspective on how I will prepare and cook wild game. Craig’s detailed butchering and his many years of refining these recipes into mouth watering dishes kept me wanting to read more. I would suggest buying a pad of sticky notes to earmark certain pages for quick reference. I made a batch of the “fort courage southwest-style rub.” An excellent choice for seasoning almost everything I cook. I found most of the ingredients I already had in my spice cabinet. I like that he included domestic meat choices in his recipes. After all, you can’t have enough wild game on hand to try all these recipes in one season. I tried two of his House Drinks, “Italian Ice” and “The Godmother.” So simple, so good, so refreshing! Craig rounded out the book with a compliment of side dishes and desserts. “Changing the Game” will guide you from the field to fork with some delicious meals.

Patricia D Brady

This book is just perfect for those who hunt and for those who are delegated to cook the kill.  I have prepared several of these tried and true recipes and they were delicious! The gamey taste is gone!
I always knew that venison was good for you but I didn't care for the "wangy" taste of the meat. The recipes in this book are absolutely delicious and remove all that gamey flavor. What a gold mine this book is! 
How healthy is meat from animals who don't ingest preservatives?  I am so happy I found this collection of recipes and anticdotes reminiscent of Craig Tomsky's life with a Sicilian mother. Kudos to the author. There is not one boring page in this book.