Royal Tine Camp Cook School Past Students

outdoor cooking schoolJoann Blasberg, Israel
2004 cook student

After a rough start in my new line of work (actually a non-start) with an outfitter in another state, I took a job with GW Peterson Outfitters (Old Glendevey Ranch) in northwest Colorado. I connected with Liv and Garth through a reference from LeRee (I was looking for a new position, fast, and LeRee gave me several names). We hit it off and I started working at the beginning of August and worked through mid-November, except for the last two weeks in August. Working with the Petersons could not have been better. The base camp was incredibly well organized and I had all the equipment I could ask for. I was not able to use anything other than stove top dutch ovens because of fire hazard regulations, but managed quite well with what I had. And, I had been able to do a lot of my baking (breads, cakes and cookies) ahead of time in the wonderful lodge kitchen. But, I truly loved working out of the base camp. It was a 1 1/2 hour ride by horseback to camp and once there, it was just so peaceful and beautiful. I had most of the days to myself which I loved. camp cooking school

My typical day started at 3:30am to light the fire, get the coffee going, start breakfast and prepare the lunch fixings. Breakfast was at 5am and the hunters left at about 5:30-6:00 am. Then, I put the food away, cleared the table and got things ready for clean up. I would try to nap for a couple of hours, then get up and do my exercises. (Garth was astounded that I brought weights to work out) By then, it was time to do some dinner prep (cutting vegetables, preparing sauces or rubs, making desserts, etc). At about lunch time, I would do the breakfast dishes and anything else I had used for dinner prep. If one of the packers came up, I would spend time chatting while I worked on the prep or dishes. After lunch, depending on time, I would try to take a short hike into the woods, read or rest. By late afternoon, I was in full steam toward dinner -- I was cooking the meal as well as preparing the appetizer/dips. Dinner was usually at about 8 pm. I chose to sit and eat with the hunters and guides, even though it meant my clean up waited, but that was a big part of the experience for me. I then did a full clean up after dinner and usually got to sleep at about 9:30 or 10 pm.

cooking school I was lucky for the season -- the Petersons did not need me the last two weeks of August and in my search for a job, before hooking up with the Petersons. I just happened to connect with a guy who needed me in Nevada for just those two weeks, at an opal mining site he used for his "experience" vacations. There, too, the experience was fantastic and Jim was great. I was able to use my dutch oven skills, although Jim had a propane oven, he wanted me to prove I could use the dutch ovens and so -- I did!

I already have a job lined up for the next season, with another outfitter that LeRee referred me to (the Petersons were not sure if they needed me for the season and so, I had to find something else). I am looking forward to working with them -- I went down to visit with them before I took the job and just liked the feel of the place and the crew. I found that the world of camp cook is simply right for me. I count myself blessed that the experience has been exactly what I wanted. What more can you ask?

Dear Cody and LeRee',

Just a few lines to update you on what I've been doing since the end of August, I've been working for Bighorn Outfitters in Salmon, Idaho. We hunt west of Salmon in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area. It's beautiful. I heard timber wolves howling from camp on the last hunt. The hunters and guides didn't like it but it's the first time I've ever heard them in the wild. I'm at a camp called Horse Heaven at 8,000 feet elevation. These camps are 8 hours by horseback. I can remember you telling me at school not to hold onto the saddle horn so much. Now I'm holding the reins with two fingers, a sandwich in one hand and a juice drink in the other. Since I've been here, I've been riding a mule named Rufus. The other guys call me Festus after that guy on Gunsmoke. I don't care. I like my mule and don't care if I ever ride a horse again. dutch oven school

On the first hunt, we had 7 inches of snow. On the ride out, the head guide couldn't find the trail with all the snow and deadfall. I remember what Cody said about mules having good memories. I told him to let Rufus find the trail. He agreed. Rufus walked through all kinds of crap and suddenly made a sharp turn. He was on the trail! "We're never going to get you off that mule now", he said. Keep your GPS (global positioning system), I've got my MPS(mule positioning system). Rufus even chews Copenhagen. I don't care, as long as he doesn't start drinking my whiskey.

Cooking has been going fine and I've been getting good tips, nothing under a $100, so far, and a couple of really good ones. The hunters like my food and my stories even though the guides think I've been in the backcountry "too long". I've been using so much of what I learned in cooking school. I check my notes a lot. The money I spent on tuition for school was worth every penny. I want to thank you both (Cody and LeRee') for preparing me so well for this work.

In the past four months, I've seen country that most people will never see in their lives. I've heard wolves howling; saw a grizzly bear, and herds of buffalo, and I get paid to do it!!! The work is hard and the days are long but I love it.

Bill Kreiger, Pennsylvania
June 2004 cook student

cooking school
"LeRee' Just wanted to thank you for taking me on as a 'cooking student', but mostly for everything you and Cody have done for us the past couple of weeks. I really appreciate you guys getting us hooked up with Chris, so we could get the truck fixed, for the chinks (can't wait to wear them) and for helping me with my bow. We've really enjoyed the school and getting to know you. Have a great summer!"

Julie Helmers, Indiana
April/May 2000 cook student

cooking student Nelson Davis
July 2004 cook student

Hello LeRee and Cody,

Thanks for a very enjoyable 10-day cook class. I really enjoyed your country, your camp, your instruction, and all the rest. You and Cody really have a good thing going. Besides back woods cooking skills, and basic horsemanship, the things I learned were:

  1. Don't put the lid on boiling coffee (it boils over and what a mess)!!
  2. A red horse is a sorrel.
  3. 6x4 is not 12 (slight recipe miscalculation!!) What was the matter with me? It must have been a cranial flatchilism!
I got a job in Del Norte, Colorado.
Thanks again.

cooking camp

It's been many years since I was at the Royal Tine Camp Cook School as a student, I tend to come around at least once a year, if I'm in the area, just to say hello. LeRee and Cody really took the time to help me jump start my profession as a wilderness cook into what it is today, and I can't give them thanks enough for that! It also helped that LeRee was around to smooth out all the rough edges I had as a novice cook when first started cooking in this profession. I've not only learned to be able to make a home cooked meal in places you never thought to eat anything that good...but have carried it over to some places that only served five star meals. (they put their pants on one leg at a time just like me and don't let the flash and dash, money or social class intimidate you!, they've got to eat also!)

Although I'm not rolling in the financial splendor of my corporate years of the past....every day of my life is spent at a slower pace, with much happiness and peace, being surrounded by nature. Every day of my life is an adventure now, and that's the way I like it. I hope to keep that way.....God willing!

Thanks for all you have done for me.
Yours Truly,
Sonia Castillo