Pat Mac and Mike Faverman first met when they were working as touring stand-up comedians, but they really connected over their mutual love of food.
Mac had grown up cooking in his father’s restaurant in Boise, Idaho, and Faverman had worked as a chef in restaurants across the US – cooking pays better than stand-up comedy, after all. In 2005, the pair decided to combine their two loves – making people laugh and feeding people – into a travelling road show called Ultimate Outdoor Cooking. The duo also published a cookbook, Ultimate Camp Cooking, a collection of 80 recipes that prove campfire cooking does not have to be mundane or flavourless.
“The way I’ve always looked at it,” Mac said, “is when you’re camping, you’re on vacation, and when you’re on vacation, you want to eat well.”
Mac and Faverman chatted with Travelwise about their camp cooking experiences and shared tips for creating gourmet meals out in the woods.
Q: When did you first decide to up the culinary ante of your camping trips?
Mac: I’ve been camping my whole life. And as our camping group got bigger, we noticed that better food was bringing more people to the campground. People started coming up with new recipes, and then it kind of became like a competition. People totally put aside the hamburger and hot dog recipes and really came up with creative ways of cooking in the mountains.
Q: What are your favourite dishes to make when car camping?
Mac: Our Drunk’n Flank Steak is a good one, because you can marinate it ahead of time [in a sauce of Jack Daniels, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper], have it sitting in your cooler, and when you’re ready, throw it up on the barbecue with our rosemary red potatoes.
Q: What are your favourite dishes to make when backpacking?
Faverman: You can make our rosemary red potatoes [sliced red potatoes tossed in rosemary and thyme and sautéed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper] or our grilled dill salmon [made with dill, olive oil, lemon, garlic, onion, basil, salt and pepper]. You just wrap both recipes in tin foil and cook them over an open fire.
Mac: A great backpacking recipe that I’ve taught to a lot of people is a nice vegetarian dish. You fill a Ziploc [re-sealable plastic bag] with different vegetables, like zucchini, squash, mushrooms, carrots and onions, and marinate them in some extra virgin olive oil and seasoning, and then when you get to the campsite, you sauté it all in a pan over the fire. So you don’t have any meat that’ll go bad, but you have all the nutrients that you’ll need for the next day.