Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exotic Tastes? Restaurant Caters to the Culinarily Adventurous

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exotic Tastes? Restaurant Caters to the Culinarily Adventurous

Article excerpt

From A to Z - alligator to zebra - if it's wild, it's on the menu at Cecil Pritchett's, an improbable restaurant in an unlikely setting near Truman Lake, about 100 miles south of Kansas City.

And if you don't see it, just ask. Owner-chef Cecil Pritchett will try to track it down and cook it.

"I had a hippopotamus on order for a long time, but I just couldn't get it," he said. "I'm still trying."

Pritchett, 53, got some strange looks from this village's 750 residents when he opened his restaurant in an old brick building in 1992 and began boasting "the largest selection of exotic wild game food in the world."

Now it's Pritchett who's smiling as folks from as far away as Canada, England and France drop into his down-home cafe with the black-and-white zebra decor to sample such delicacies as quail in pecan-honey sauce, alligator in Hawaiian sauce, smoked antelope sausage, venison in curry sauce and hickory-smoked mountain lion and zebra.

Pritchett learned to cook game as he grew up in Nevada, Mo. With 10 children, the family ate a lot of game - rabbit, venison and quail.

Pritchett worked in production for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City for 12 years. He bought a restaurant there in 1981, put a few wild game dishes on the menu and the next year won blue ribbons for exotic fare at a Kansas City food festival. Even so, the restaurant wasn't wildly successful, and Pritchett sold out to take a job in advertising.

After some stints as a chef for several Kansas City area restaurants, Pritchett moved to Osceola two years ago. He bought a creaky but quaint brick building built in 1845 and fired up the grill.

"I started out selling broasted chicken and hamburgers, then slowly started introducing stuff I wanted to do," he said.

Pritchett sells far more chicken, steaks, prime rib and standard breakfast and lunch fare than wild game at his restaurant, one of four in town. …

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