The Foodism guide to... Cooking outdoors
Want to be able to rustle up homemade pumpkin and sage gnocchi on little more than a camping stove? Read on for tips from Kieran Creevy, a private chef and international mountain leader
Published: Monday 13th February 2017
So you've mastered macerating and you're a pickling pro, but we'd wager there's something you're less familiar with: the art of cooking outdoors. We're talking about a bit more than your average barbecue, mind – we mean cooking in the wild, with very little in the way of equipment to help you.
If this is something you'd like to rectify, you're in luck, as we've tracked down a man who can help: Kieran Creevy, an expedition and private chef and international mountain leader with more than 20 years experience of cooking and leading in a wide variety countries, and on vastly differing terrains and climates around the world.
He's cooked a six-course tasting dinner with matched wines from a basecamp tent; prepared homemade pumpkin and sage gnocchi with wild boar râgu at an overnight bivi in the Italian Alps; and served reindeer loin with smoked beetroot, skyr and pine needle salt while ski touring in the Arctic.
Creevy has also written backcountry gourmet recipes for a number of publications, including Sidetracked magazine, Adidas Terrex, Adventure.com, Fall-Line magazine and Ripcord Journal. Over the last number of years he's taught outdoor cooking workshops for the likes of The North Face, Marmot, Lowe Alpine, Kendal Mountain Festival and the Royal Geographical Society.
With all of the above under his belt, Creevy is the man for the job when you want to learn how to rustle up a Scandi-style dish on your camping stove – and he's shared his top tips here.
"Think about your favourite meal from a restaurant or your home. You can probably immediately recall the smells and tastes of those dishes. Remember the last time you went for a hike, paddle, surf or climb and how good that simple sandwich tasted afterwards? Now, combine the best of both these worlds! Proper food in the outdoors."
"Too often we leave planning our overnight camp meals until the last minute and end up with a complete mish-mash of ingredients or worse still, nutritionally questionable or even bland, tasteless food. Instead think about where you're going, for how long, and your mode of travel – for example if you're travelling by canoe, you can afford to carry more food and equipment than if you're planning a winter Alpine ascent."
"At first glance this might look like a repeat of the point above, but it's not. Firstly, think about how much superfluous packaging comes with most of our food, most of which can and should be ditched in recycling containers prior to heading out. In addition, why not prepare some non-perishable nibbles at home to take out on the trail? Instead of buying energy bars in the petrol station, some of which are full of crap, make your own at home."
4. Buy local
"Buying organic and local produce has become more and more prevalent over the past few years. Until it comes to heading abroad on an expedition. Where we buy and pack almost everything we need food-wise at home, then pay massive sums of money to ship it halfway across the world.
To my mind, this is insane. Why not pack the bare essentials, then head to your destination a few days early and soak up the smells and tastes of local dishes so you can be inspired when it comes to buying in the markets. Not only will you have reduced your shipping costs, but you're adding local ingredients to your meal. That way, when you return from your adventure and cook a similar dish, you'll immediately be transported back to where you were and what you were doing when you tried it for the first time."
5. Road test your equipment in advance
"Making sure you know how your stove works at home is important. Knowing that it will work when it's below zero and you're tired and hungry is not just important, it could be essential to your survival. At the very least, it could mean you have to bail from your long planned adventure – don't go out with kit you don't know how to use."
Kieran Creevy will be talking at the Outdoor Adventure and Camping Show with Blacks, which takes place from 16-19 February at ExCel London. For more information, or to book tickets, go to outdooradventureshow.co.uk