Cooking in the Woods - Chef Camp Minnesota 2018

Growing up, labor day weekend did not hold much significance. We didn’t pile in a car and drive to a cabin. We didn’t grill brats or make a giant bowl of potato salad. Most years, we just soaked up the last bits of summer by dreaming up the best ways to take advantage of a single Monday off of school. Some years that meant making a trip to the Minnesota State Fair, other years it meant one last jump in the local pool before it closed for fall.

Yet the last few years for me have included something particularly special in the week or so surrounding Labor Day: Chef Camp.

Chef Camp is a yearly gathering for people who love food. It is the weekend that home-cooks learn from passionate chefs in outdoor classrooms and local leaders in food are able to share ideas, skills, and stories. It is education and creation and collaboration and every bit of it is delicious.

Chef Camp is responsible for so many of the memories I carry throughout the rest of the year-- especially in the winter. These memories are important reminders of what it’s like to wake up to chilly mornings that become scorching afternoons, reminders of eating supper outside as the sun begins to set at 8pm, reminders a perfect, cool breeze. These memories are the inspiration I rely on to make my winters cozy. A reminder to revel in the community that comes from a shared meal.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of Chef Camp since its inaugural year, the first two years responsible for brewing coffee for after-dinner pourovers and 6am morning coffee by the dock. It was this past summer that I roamed through as a camp photographer, capturing tasty moments of learning, exploring, and food-adventuring. There are few things more satisfying than catching a diver right before he breaks the water’s surface, capturing the trajectory of pizza dough spun from fingertips, or pausing to admire the vibrancy of late summer produce.

For those moments themselves, and for these photos to share them, I am thankful.

The Gift of Summer Produce

I find vegetables to be quite perfect. I love that they are as vibrant in color as they are flavor. I love the gentle tug of picking a raspberry and the smooth release when you pull a carrot from the ground. Throughout the year — and summer, especially — I am gifted produce from friends with so many tomatoes, they don’t know what to do with them all. Meanwhile my “garden” at home is made of individual pots of basil, mint, or dill, and I am rarely met with abundance. So for those of you with flourishing gardens, the abundance of produce (and generosity) is greatly appreciated. I cannot help but take photos of this process I find so beautiful.

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