Friday, July 04, 2008

Camp 2008 -- Goal #2: Reduce end-of-camp donations

The second goal is to reduce end-of-camp donations to less than 4.5 percent of total purchases (when measured in dollars).

Cooking for or a stand-alone camp presents several inventory management issues. Key among them is getting rid of perishable inventory at the end of the week or weekend. We can't hold perishable food until the next camp, some 51 weeks away.

Dutch oven chocolate cream pie with cookie crust. Five (14-inch) Dutch ovens fed 135 campers and staff. You can serve approximately 15 to 25 portions from each large oven.

In an ideal world, the chef purchases just enough food for the campers. You're okay as long as the campers eat all the food that is prepared and presented to them. But few work in such an environment.

Products like fresh tomatoes, lettuce mix and milk give me the most problems. Each year, I adjust my order based on usage and remaining stock from the prior year. The number of anticipated campers also factors into the amount of food that I purchase.

Some years, my adjustments work. In other years the campers eat less (for a variety of reasons) and I'm faced with large quantities of leftover stock.

Now that it's Friday, I'm well on my way to achieving my goal of reducing the end-of-camp donations. Last week when I submitted by purchase order to Sysco, I was able to reduce my order by 10 to 20 cases.

I don't see a need to purchase an unneeded product just so I can donate it to the next camp. While it benefits that camp, it costs our camp money at a time when budgets are tight.

I've been monitoring the remaining food stocks closely and adjusting the menu to use these stocks up before tomorrow morning. My sous chef and I discuss the menu day and work on strategies to reduce excess stock. I'm confident that, at this point in the week, that my end-of-camp donations will come in much less than four percent.

Instead of making more cookies with the two remaining boxes of cookie mix, I used them to form the crust for a Dutch oven chocolate cream pie for lunch today.


This morning, for instance, I made a Dutch oven chocolate cream pie in five (14-inch) camp ovens. I took the remaining two (5-pound) boxes of basic cookie mix and made cookie dough using the instructions on the box. I then pressed 2 pounds cookie dough into each 14-inch camp oven. It doesn't matter if you use regular or deep-style ovens for this recipe.

After baking the cookie dough over charcoal for 350 degrees F. for approximately 20 minutes, I used eggs, milk and sugar (all excess stock at this point) to make a chocolate cream pie filling from scratch. I cooled the filling and then poured 1-1/2 quarts over the cookie pie crust in each oven. You can also use your favorite instant pie filling if desired.

The five Dutch ovens fed 135 hungry campers during our Independence Day cookout. This is but one example of a way to use excess stocks.


  1. Steven, I included a link to this post in the newest "Cast Iron Around the Web" entry at

    I like your pictures as well.

  2. Thanks for the link, Mansfield. Nice stire ...

  3. Yeah, and I'd like the full recipe for the choco cream pie filling!

  4. I'll have to work it up, Mark. I used the chocolate pie filling recipe out of Professional Baking, by Wayne Gisslen.

    Any cookie dough recipe should work for the crust.