Josh Sutton, aka the Guyrope Gourmet, is not a fan of baked beans. Instead, he likes nothing more than to haul fresh neck fillets of lamb and a bottle of red wine across the Howgills, start up a fire and have a very civilized al fresco feast. With camper van Nan the Van in tow, he’s on a mission to revolutionize camping cookery. He told The Girl Outdoors about buying local, essential gear and his favourite foodie festivals.
What’s the whole idea behind Guyrope Gourmet?
Guyrope Gourmet is all about eating well at camp. Camping is a great way of exploring the countryside, it’s also a great way of explore local foods. The idea behind GG is to show how easy it is to prepare good food, using fresh ingredients, on the most basic of cooking facilities. There’s more to camping cuisine than bangers & beans!
What’s your favourite bit of cooking kit?
My first camping stove was a Trangia, which I still have and treasure, but these days I cook on an Outwell Cooker Deluxe, which has a two burners and a grill – I find the grill makes all the difference, every camper knows the value of toast in the morning.
What basic equipment should a keen camping cook invest in?
A decent stove obviously, there are lots on the market, I’d say look out for one that’s easy to keep clean. Non-stick pans are essential as they save on the washing up (but use wooden utensils to make sure the Teflon stays on!). A good sharp knife and chopping board and Tupperware – it’s great for storing ingredients and leftovers!
What herbs and spices are the most useful/versatile?
Dried herbs are great for camping, I always have Oregano, Basil and bay leaves to hand. I like to use fresh herbs where possible, flat leaf parsley and fresh coriander will work wonders on a rice dish! With spices, I seem to put paprika in practically everything I cook! I often use whole seeds and crush them in my pestle and mortar, but packing ready ground works too.
Do you like to get your ingredients from local suppliers?
Using local suppliers and fresh ingredients is a key element of the Guyrope Gourmet ethos, I would always urge campers, wherever possible to support the local economy in which they’ve pitched their tent. Of course I always bring food along from home too, namely the herbs and spices and a few emergency supplies in case the local shops are shut.
What’s the best way to wash up afterwards?
Get someone else to do it!
How do you go about preparing and lighting your campfire?
Sadly, most campsites won’t allow open fires, but there are a number that do. I’ll always light a fire – I usually bring along my trusty 1600 rpm barbeque, which is an old washing machine drum set up on three legs to keep it off the grass. With a grill over the top, it makes a great barbeque, then when the cooking is done, you can chuck a couple of logs in and get the guitars out.
Is being raised by the Guy Rope Gourmet teaching your kids to appreciate quality, well-prepared food?
My kids are pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new foods. My daughter has just turned ten and is really starting to take an interest in preparing food, both at home and in the field. As a parent you just have to be bold (but not irresponsible) and let them loose with a chopping knife and the odd mushroom, it’s the only way they will learn.
How did you first acquire Nan the Van? Has she massively changed the way you camp?
My Nan died a week before her hundredth birthday, I bought the van with the money she left me, so ‘Nan the Van’ seems a fitting tribute to an old VW camper that just keep on going! She’s brilliant for going off on trips in, but we always bring along a family tent and sleep in that – it’s much more comfortable.
Which festivals will you be heading to this summer?
I particularly like food festivals and smaller ‘boutique’ affairs. I’m booked in to give cookery demonstrations at Honeywoods Feast in the Forest in Kent in May, the fantastic Home Grown Food festival in Northallerton in June, I’m judging an outdoor cookery competition at the Mortimer Country Food Fair in July and the Abergavenny Food Festival in September.
Want more al fresco cooking inspiration? Guy’s lovely book, ‘Guyrope Gourmet – a camping cookbook’ will hit the shelves in May, published by Punk Publishing.