Cooking in the great outdoors can feel more daunting than ever. The solution: Try these dishes that are low on flame but high on flavor.

Rivian Camp Kitchen induction cooktop

Thomas J. Story

With unprecedented wildfires prompting widespread burn bans across the West, cooking in the great outdoors can feel more daunting than ever. The good news? You can totally put together a delicious meal thanks to high-tech gear.

“When I go camping, I like to spend my time exploring my surroundings and not washing dishes,” says Bar Cecil chef Gabriel Woo.

Before you head out on a camping trip, Woo recommends preparing these vegetables at home. Then all you have to do is heat up the broth—an induction burner will do the trick—to build your bowl.

For chef Wes Avila, the mastermind behind Angry Egret Dinette in Los Angeles and Ka’teen in Hollywood, the trick is to pack like a chef. Prep ahead of time and store what you need in a jar and resealable plastic bags. Chill everything overnight in the refrigerator before transporting it in a heavy-duty cooler with ice.

“There’s something about cooking with your feet on the earth that makes it feel natural,” Avila tells us.

Try these recipes from two chefs whose dishes are low on flames but high on flavor.

Udon Nabemono

Chef Gabriel Woo's Udon Nabemono and avocado toast

Thomas J. Story

You know what’s better than soup to warm you up on a cool night outside the tent? Hot pot, particularly packed with well-spiced noodles. This “nabe” is a go-to for Palm Springs chef Gabriel Woo, who’s at the helm of Bar Cecil restaurant. (Tip: It’s the hottest ticket in town, so reserve a table.)

Gabriel Woo's Udon Nabemono

Avocado Toast

Avocado toast by Bar Cecil chef Gabriel Woo

Thomas J. Story

Who says you can’t have brunch in the backwoods? Sourdough gets an outdoorsy upgrade in this easy side dish that’s perfect to serve alongside udon nabemono. Just bring along a paring knife and a spoon to prep the avocados, then crisp up the bread and garnish with edible leaves, like those plucked from a marigold.

Gabriel Woo's Avocado Toast

Camp-Ready Chilaquiles

Chef Wes Avila's Camp-Ready Chilaquiles

Thomas J. Story

Bacon and eggs make a fine campsite breakfast, but chilaquiles are an even easier upgrade with major flavor. This version comes from avid camper and chef Wes Avila, the mastermind who made his name with Guerrilla Tacos and now presides over Angry Egret Dinette in downtown Los Angeles’ Chinatown and Yucatan-inspired Ka’teen in Hollywood. All you need to do is cook up and cool down the chile-spiked chilaquile sauce at home. Pack in the sauce, eggs, and a bag of chips. Crank up your burner and in five minutes you’ve got breakfast.

Wes Avila's Camp-Ready Chilaquiles

Sunset Wine Club: Perfect Pairing

THE WINE: 2020 Angeline Pinot Noir Reserve Mendocino County
TASTING NOTES: While the nose is centered on plush berries, plums, and bing cherries, wild violets and stone fruit blossoms surround the periphery, as do tiny hints of cinnamon and anise.
WHY IT WORKS: This expression of Mendocino Pinot is high on pleasure with a low monetary impact, making it an excellent choice for these no-fire camp cooking dishes.
Find this bottle, and others just like it, at the Sunset Wine Club.

Sea Bass Ceviche

Chef Wes Avila's Sea Bass Ceviche

Thomas J. Story

Ceviche in the wild, miles from modern refrigeration? Yes, it makes sense—that is, when you take your cues from chef Wes Avila, who makes a point of making ceviche a regular day-one dish whenever he camps. The trick is to think—and pack—like a chef. The day before you hit the road, dice the fish, make the ceviche cooking liquid and store it in a jar, and prep the vegetables and pack them in resealable plastic bags. Chill it all down overnight in the refrigerator and transport everything in a heavy-duty (read: Yeti) cooler loaded with ice. The cooler will serve as your backwoods ceviche chilling station.

Wes Avila's Sea Bass Ceviche


Whip up a worthy spread with the right gear, no flames required.

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