The chef life is an adventurous one for Vancouver’s Josh Wolfe, who has taken the leap from the brick-and-mortar restaurant world and his famous Fresh Local Wild food truck to being more of an itinerant chef whose favourite kitchens aren’t kitchens at all.
“I’ve been on a quest to cook everywhere I can without cooking in a restaurant,” Wolfe says. Though he has been doing some catering and restaurant consulting gigs in the city, recently Wolfe has been cooking in an outdoors setting.
“Why not just call me a ‘Culinary Adventurer’?” suggests Wolfe, who says his shedding of the chef whites and the four walls of the truck and restaurants has led to lots of people asking what his title should be.
Wolfe has a deep sense of adventure, not only on a very basic day-to-day level, but also where he enjoys cooking, like at a fly fishing camp. This has led him to get better acquainted with outdoor cooking gear on top of his existing love of working with fresh ingredients.
Here are some camping cooking tips to help make your outdoor eating easier and more enjoyable:
1. Plan your meals out, and keep the menu simple
“People like to eat simply,” says Wolfe. While there are fine restaurants all over dishing up amazing things, when you’re gathered around a campfire, nothing beats simple food. “And sometimes,” laughs Wolfe, “just make hot dogs. Because that’s what people like.”
2. Prep as much as possible before the trip
“The more you do before you go, the less stuff you take with you before you leave,” notes Wolfe. Portion out things like oatmeal servings for breakfast. Cook a big batch of chilli before you go, instead of prepping and cooking it there.
3. Pack smart
Take that batch of chilli and freeze it, and pack it frozen. Chances are by the time you get to the last day of your trip, you won’t want to do much more than pour the cold chilli in the pot and heat it up. If you’ve portioned off things like dry oatmeal, no need to lug the big container of it.
4. Pick the right gear you need
Wolfe, who has recently launched a camping gear campaign for Canadian Tire, says he believes campers need just a few basics, including a two-burner stove, a set of nesting pots, comfy chairs, good coolers, and extra zip-top bags for packing away leftovers. “Bring the right tools of the job, and everything gets done right,” adds Wolfe.
5. Sit down and enjoy the food
Wolfe says as a chef working at campsites he’s found a new appreciation for food and the art of eating when he’s sitting down to share the meal.
Wolfe shared a few camping cooking recipes, too. Enjoy!
Campfire Vegetable Omelette
“Camping gives everyone an opportunity to unplug, embrace nature and eat delicious food that can be prepared quickly,” says Wolfe.
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 10 minutes
- Recipe: For 6 servings
· 12 tsp canola or olive oil
· 12 eggs
· 2 cups chopped spinach
· 1 cup chopped onion
· 1 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
· 1 ½ cups cubed orange cheddar cheese
1. In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat
2. Sweat the onion (cook until translucent) after heating oil
3. In a bowl, whisk eggs, salt and pepper, then pour into pan. Constantly move eggs around, scrambling them, until half-cooked
4. Let sit so omelette cooks on bottom. Top with cheese and flip over into a half moon. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, bring pan up to temperature, then (sautee) cook vegetables. Place on top of omelette
5. Serve with toast
Campfire Grilled Cheese with Bacon
“Bacon cooked over the campfire is one of the most delicious ways to eat it – and an easy-to-make familiar meal is always comforting out in the woods” says Wolfe.
- Prep time: 8 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- Recipe: for 6 servings
· 3 table spoons of butter
· 6 ounces of orange cheddar cheese
· 12 pieces of whole wheat bread
· 18 pieces of bacon
· Bottle of ketchup
1. Pre-heat pan for about 3 minutes
2. Cook bacon on medium heat for 10-15 mins or until desired crispiness
3. Spread butter on both sides of each piece of bread
4. Place bread with cheese on top (and add bacon into sandwich)
5. Cut crusts off sandwiches if kids prefer
6. Add ketchup to dip sandwich in
Smoked 3 bean and beef chilli with grilled scallions and shaved chocolate
“For some extra warmth in the evening, a hearty chilli will help keep everyone toasty around the campfire,” says Wolfe.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes (simmering)
· 1 ounce – olive oil
· 1 Spanish onion – medium dice
· 1 bell pepper (red, green or orange) – medium dice
· 2 tsp paprika
· 2 pc – carrots – medium dice
· 1 lb – lean ground beef (can use turkey, or any ground meat for that matter
· 2 cans (500 ml) crushed tomatoes
· 500 ml – water
· 1 pc chili pepper
· 1 tbsp. – chilli powder
· ½ tsp – dried oregano
· ½ tsp – dried basil
· ½ lt – black beans
· ½ lt – kidney beans
· ½ lt – pinto beans
· 100 g chocolate
· 1 pc smoking log (any smoking wood will work)
· 6 pc – green scallions
1. Place Dutch oven on your Coleman camping grill, and set temperature to high.
2. Add onion, bell pepper and carrots. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes).
3. Add paprika, and chili powder, stirring for one minute.
4. Add beef and cook, breaking up the meat as your stir with a wooden spoon.
5. Stir in the tomatoes, water, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
6. Drop temperature to low, keep partially covered and stir for approx. 30 minutes.
7. Stir in beans, and continue to cook for 30 more minutes.
8. Season with salt and pepper.
Smoking (optional) – Using tinfoil, create a bowl and place in centew of the pot of chilli. Place your smoking log or wood chips in the bowl. Using a blow torch light the log or chips on fire then place the lid on. Let smoke for 10 minutes.
Garnish – Take 8 pieces of green onions (scallions) and put a little bit of olive oil and salt on them, place on the grill to char. Remove then slice. Place your chilli in your bowls, using a cheese grater to shave smoke chocolate on to, and sprinkle slices of charred green onions on top! The smoky, char-y and chocolaty characteristics will make this a crowd pleasure for sure.