Comics Mike Faverman and Pat Mac ran into each other on an open mic night at a comedy club. They discovered that they both love to cook and camp, but in their own inimitable style that redefines roughing it. Faverman and Mac started doing comedy cooking gigs at RV shows around the country. They are the authors of Ultimate Camp Cooking.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper: How do you go from doing stand-up to doing camp cooking of all things?
Mike Faverman: To be honest, I think we just combined our two favorite things to do, which are making people laugh, and cooking and making people happy. When I see people eat my food and enjoy it, that's almost as good as telling a joke and making them laugh. To combine the two is just doubling up the positive energy.
LRK: You could do that in someone's kitchen, but you have elected to do it in the middle of nowhere. You're talking out there where there are bears, trees and no running water.
MF: What's cool is that Pat and I wanted to experiment with this idea, so we did. We went out in the woods because Pat is an avid camper -- he used to build a kitchen out there in the woods, and it always drew our attention. What Pat and I decided to do was both go out there, build this kitchen and see what happened.
It was amazing. People just came over in droves; they were inquisitive, they were hovering around, and they wanted to know what we were doing, what we were cooking, and how we were cooking it. It just ended up being almost like an audience in the woods watching us. It just felt fantastic.
LRK: What is it about this kitchen that you set up?
Pat Mac: If you stop and think about it, when you're having a party, everybody ends up in the kitchen. That's just the way we all work. So when you're up in the mountains, if you build a kitchen outside, that's where everybody ends up. You take just a regular pop-up canopy, take a couple of tables and square them off, and then you put your grill to finish off the square so you have a U-shape.
I have a collapsible cupboard that I hang from the canopy where I put all my spices, my oils, plates and everything. Then I put my grill box on top of the stove, as well as a griddle. I have a toolbox, but my toolbox holds spatulas, spoons, a corkscrew, and of course the top rack is filled with spices.
My wife always tells me that we eat better in the mountains than we do at home.
LRK: What kinds of things do you cook?
MF: We cook everything: appetizers, desserts, entrees, soups and salads. We run the whole gamut of types of foods. That's the thing about the kitchen -- we have all cooking surfaces, so anything we want to cook, we're ready to go at any time. The misunderstanding for most people is that they think that having to cook these type of meals in the woods takes a lot of time, a lot of equipment and a lot of ingredients -- that's not the case.
LRK: You have an eggs Benedict that you do with a Dutch oven and a pie plate.
PM: What I like to do is take a couple pieces of foil, roll them up into little balls, and then I raise my pie tin up inside my Dutch oven because I'm going to be using biscuits. It's lifted up just enough so that there's going to be circulation of air underneath. Then I put biscuit dough inside the pie tin, push it down with my thumb and create a little divot. I put my prosciutto ham in there, cover it with eggs -- unscrambled eggs, just regular, cracked, full eggs -- and cover it with Parmesan cheese. Then I put the lid on the Dutch oven.
I never put coals directly underneath the Dutch oven, only around the edge, because if you put them directly underneath the Dutch oven, they will scorch and burn the food. If you have them around the edge, they are going to push the heat up, and the coals on the top around the edge will push the heat down. It creates a convection inside your Dutch oven, and it makes it really easy to work with.
LRK: This is brilliant -- you're baking the biscuits with the flavoring and with the egg on top. Do you have a traditional opening night dinner?
PM: Yes, Budweiser and Fritos.
No, you want to make sure on your first day that your timing is just right. If you know you are going to be arriving later in the evening, then you make sure you have a recipe that's going to be really easy just to throw out there that's going to be ready to feed everybody.
One of our favorite ones to do at the beginning of the camping trip would be a drunken flank steak because you can marinate that 12 hours before you leave town. When you get up there to camp, just throw it on the grill, and it literally takes about 40 minutes tops to cook that all the way through. Of course drunken means it has alcohol in it, and a lot of our recipes do have alcohol in them.
MF: Just a little bit.
PM: Just a little bit, just to kind of bring the spirit of camping into it. Drunken flank steak is just basically Jack Daniel's, soy sauce, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, and lime juice to help break it down and make it nice and tender. Then you just throw that on the grill after it has been marinating for no more than 15 hours. It has a really nice flavor.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.