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Gerber Camp Hacks: Here’s What (Not) to Do While Cooking at Camp

Chef Brian Lee traveled around Southern California with Gerber's ComplEAT Collection cooking up camp meals for total strangers. Here are a few of his rules for masterful camp cooking.
Chef Brian Lee
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There’s a lot of trial and error that goes into serving up a kick-ass camp meal. For L.A.-based chef Brian Lee, that’s part of the fun. Lee has spent many years working in restaurants in L.A., and he’s spent time camping for most of his life.

So, it was only natural to combine the two and hone his skills in the world of camp cooking. Lee’s secret sauce? Prioritizing quality ingredients and simple yet delicious recipes. But even with all of his know-how, it can be daunting to prepare a big meal at camp

Recently, Lee traveled around Southern California with Gerber’s ComplEAT Collection on a mission to cook up camp meals for total strangers. Robust, durable, and designed to efficiently nest in your mobile camp kit, the Gerber ComplEAT collection proved invaluable to Lee for prepping and serving food to his new friends.

However, even with the best kit, things don’t always go according to plan. We chatted with the plein air cooking connoisseur to learn what not to do when preparing a meal outside.

Cooking for total strangers — and furry felines; (photo/GearJunkie)

1. Don’t wait until you’re at camp to prep your supplies 

Prepping ingredients and sorting food at home will make a huge difference when dinnertime rolls around. Instead of shopping on your way to camp, hit the store a day before and sort your ingredients at home before you pack up the cooler.

“I’m super meticulous about having exact measurements and portions,” said Lee. “Instead of bringing the entire 750mL bottle of olive oil, I try to think in advance to see how much I actually need for the trip and put that into a smaller squeeze bottle.”

Dividing up your ingredients ahead of time will leave you more space in the cooler or pantry box — already super-organized via the Gerber ComplEAT Collection — keeping your camp organized for a full rotation of meals. 

Gerber  ComplEAT
Prep to execution, the Gerber ComplEAT Collection has you dialed; (photo/GearJunkie)

2. More kitchen gear isn’t necessarily better — the Gerber ComplEAT Collection levels up your kit 

Four pans, two pots, a dutch oven … it can be tempting to pack up the whole kitchen sink when contemplating what kind of supplies you’ll need to make your meal come to life.

“In my opinion, less is more,” said Lee. “The first couple times I cooked at camp, I brought a ton of gear that I didn’t touch.”

Lee recommends making sure you’ve got a good knife, spatula, tongs, a few spoons, forks and a pan. “That’s what’s cool about this new Gerber ComplEAT Collection. It’s super solid and you’ve got everything you need.”

When planning out your meal at home, make a note of what kind of cookware you’ll need to prepare it. Will you need two saucepans at once? Or can the same pan be used twice? Less gear in the camp kitchen means more table space to prep (or serve up cocktails). 

3. Don’t skimp on table space

Counter space is the holy grail of cooking, whether you’re at home or camp. If you’re lucky, your campsite might have a few picnic benches that you can utilize for prepping, but a camp table (or two) can be nice to have as backup.

Everything always takes up more space than you think! But the ComplEAT Collection is built to be ergonomic and utilize space efficiently.

“It’s so easy to drop something or spill ingredients. You’re often working with limited space, so do what you can to give yourself a comfortable working environment,” recommended Lee. 

The Gerber ComplEAT Collection has everything you need for a great camp meal; (photo/GearJunkie)

Lee also likes to bring half and quarter sheet trays for organization while cooking at camp. Kind of like adding extra counter space.

“To a lot of people, this isn’t obvious, but they pack down super easily, and they allow you to get super organized,” he said. “Instead of moving all your individual ingredients when you need to make space, if you put them on a sheet tray, you can shift things around quickly and more efficiently.” 

4. Don’t go overboard with ingredients

Sometimes, the simplest recipes are the tastiest. Embracing fewer, high-quality ingredients will make your life easier when getting dinner on the table.

“I don’t say this to deter anyone from getting crazy in the camp kitchen, but I try to keep things simple,” said Lee. “The more you have on your list, the easier it is to leave something out. Simple doesn’t mean lacking flavor!”

Chef Lee makes friends and prepares a meal for total strangers; (photo/GearJunkie)

5. If you’re a new camp chef, don’t start with the most complicated meal you can think of 

Sure, we all want to wow our friends. But chances are, what you’ve got in mind is already going to feel pretty darn special while eating under a rosy desert sunset or along the rocky banks of a nearby creek.

One of Lee’s favorite camp meals is pan-seared roasted veggies, potatoes, and steak or fish. It utilizes high-quality ingredients, minimal cooking supplies, and just needs salt, pepper, and spices to bring it to life. 

Keeping things simple is easier with the Gerber ComplEAT Collection — the brand thought through the design so you can cook up any camp meal easily, and with less clutter.

Gerber  ComplEAT
Eggs on toast … delicious simplicity; (photo/Gerber)

6. Don’t be afraid to mess up 

Take chances! Remember the outdoor food consumption factor. Whatever you make is probably going to taste delicious, so if there’s something fun you’ve got in mind but you’re not sure how it’s going to turn out, give it a whirl.

Camp cooking takes tons of trial and error, and it’s a constant process to figure out what works for you. Dial in your setup, and the world is your oyster!

This article was sponsored by Gerber.

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