Dining at Clark’s Fish Camp can be a truly wild experience. Located in
Jacksonville, Florida, this family-owned restaurant serves exotic meats in a
rustic space packed to the rafters with preserved lions, tigers, monkeys and
entire flocks of rare birds. We
recently sat down with Adele Peoples, the establishment’s Chief Gator Wrangler,
to learn more about this one-of-a-kind eatery
Q. Clark’s wasn’t
always a restaurant. What are its origins?
A. My grandparents, Joan and Jack Peoples bought this place in 1974.
It was just a little tiny fish camp and bait and tackle store at the time. They
sold bait and rented out boats and as business picked up they started serving
peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters on the shell and small sandwiches. It grew from
there and my father, Mark Peoples, continued to expand the restaurant and added
more tables and menu items.
Q. How do you go
from serving peel-and-eat shrimp to exotic animals like antelope and kangaroo?
A. It started with my grandmother. She bought this possum with a beer
can in its hands and the taxidermy frenzy began after that. We started getting
all of these crazy stuffed animals in the restaurant and Joan decided we should
start serving some of the meat you could see in the restaurant. We contacted
one of our distributors and said, ‘Hey, what can you get us that’s out of the
ordinary?’ He sent us a list of farms that have exotic meats and we went from
there. Before you know it we were serving python, antelope and buffalo.
Q. Were the
exotic meats an immediate hit or did it take people a while to warm up to the
A. It was immediate. The first time we added anything exotic to the
menu we ran out of it that very night. To this day, kangaroo and gator tail is
probably our biggest seller when it comes to the wild beasts on our menu. A lot
of people also like to try the snake just to say they tried it.
Q. What’s the
most exotic dish you’ve served over the years?
A. Gator toes. People are really turned off by them, but once we talk
them into it they really like them. They have a pork flavour but look just like
a chicken wing.
Q. Speaking of
wild beasts, you are Clark’s Chief Gator Wrangler. What does that job entail?
A. We have a five and a half-foot female alligator named Lily that we
keep in an indoor exhibit and we use her for educational shows and
entertainment while guests are waiting to be seated in the restaurant. I feed
her, I play with her and I get her to do simple tricks that they would do out
in the wild.
Q. What kind of
precautions do you have to take when dealing with gators?
A. You have to be very careful and you can never underestimate the
speed and the power of a gator. I’ve had Lily since she was a hatchling. She’s
been raised in captivity around people and she’s pretty docile. But you can
never let your guard down around these animals. You have to be very careful and
keep your fingers and toes clear.
Q. How did Bob
Blumer do when he interacted with Lily?
A. He put on a big, brave smile and I think he liked it. Lily behaved
well and wasn’t too hard to handle. I made sure to feed her before we started
messing with her so she wasn’t after him.
Visit Clark’s Fish
Camp online at www.clarksfishcamp.com.
by Food Network Canada
Hi, my name is Galen and I'm currently interning with the Food Network and Shaw Media! Though I wouldn't call myself a foodie, I certainly enjoy eating the stuff - so this is an opportunity to learn more about cooking, baking, and food. Any questions, please let me know! And for goodness' sake, put the kettle on!