Food has occupied my working life for most of the past 40 years. Yet after I moved into the ranks of management in large institutions, I found myself cooking more and more at home and at the campground. Since I rarely cooked at work at that time, off-work culinary projects satisfied my drive to cook.
A large portion of my time was devoted to cooking for 'Round the Chuckbox and the family. I looked for volunteer opportunities where I could practice my craft. Planning to feed over 150 at a summer Bible camp occupied my time in later years.
Now that I'm cooking full time again, you'd think that I'd slow down, take a break from things culinary and pursue other hobbies. Except for the El Dorado Western Railroad, where I edit the newsletter and maintain the blog, a large portion of my off-work time is still devoted to food related activities.
I'm always watching for opportunities to learn. I read continually, listen to others and ask questions. As I approach my 60th birthday, I figure that a cook is never too old to learn. In that regard, Kent Rollin's Chuck Wagon Camp Cooking School will be a natural experience for me.
In one sense I don't need this school. After all, I've been cooking and managing kitchens professionally for over 40 years. As a lifelong camper and camp cook, I purchased my first Dutch oven in 1995. I can cook with the best in camp.
But I always figure I can continue to learn, especially from a lifelong wagon cook like Kent. I'll come home with new recipe ideas, new found skill in tending Bertha (Kent's 365-pound wood burning cook stove) and idea's for feeding a dozen working cowboys three meals each day.
Experience may be a hard teacher. While I've only cooked behind an authentic chuck wagon once or twice in my life, I'll use the chuckwagon school to hone my Dutch oven cooking skills.
I feel that four days of intense cooking from oh-dark-thirty until the stars appear will do just that. Feeding real folks (like cowboys on Kent's ranch) will certainly to sharpen your skills.
"Learning is the whole experience and I think you would enjoy it!" explained Shannon Keller Rollins, Kent's wife and partner. "We've had professional chefs and Dutch oven experts and everyone has walked away with something new."