Camping Cuisine - Cook up delicious dishes with chef Josh Sutton

PUBLISHED: 22:33 08 November 2011 | UPDATED: 12:02 28 February 2013

Camping Cuisine - Cook up delicious dishes with chef Josh Sutton

Camping Cuisine - Cook up delicious dishes with chef Josh Sutton

Delicious dishes can be created on a camping stove as our food and drink consultant Annie Stirk discovers Photographs by Andy Bulmer

The Pulitzer Prize-winning American humorist Dave Barry was spot on when he claimed: it always rains on tentsrainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent. Though Ive only been camping a couple of times, true to form, it has always rained. So I wasnt at all surprised that on the day of this campsite visit it was grey and drizzly.

But it seems wet weather has never put a dampener on the spirits of host Josh Sutton, aka the Guyrope Gourmet a 40-something chef, writer and camping connoisseur, who grew up in Skipton and over the intervening years has finely honed the art of cooking up a gourmet meal with little more than a camping stove, some Tupperware and a chopping board.

He pitched our encampment alongside his beloved 1979 VW camper Nan the Van at a beautiful spot on the River Wharf in a gem of a location in Castley, not far from Otley. A hot mug of tea was nudged into my hand almost as soon as I arrived and I knew then it was going to be impossible not to get caught up in Joshs relish for campsite cooking in spite of pesky precipitation.

Like many outdoor lovers, camping is in Joshs blood. My dad was into camping in a big way. We used to travel to Dent in my dads old Morris Minor and pitch his tent; I became very emotionally attached to that tent, he says. I loved camping and as a kid found it a great adventure. You can run around, meet new people and stay up late.

That said, dad was very much a bangers and beans camper, and baked beans became a common companion for me too down the years. Then one day it struck me that Id been eating this kind of emergency food when I didnt need too. Thats where Guyrope Gourmet and the website/blog began showing how, with a few decent ingredients and basic equipment, theres life beyond the tinned, dehydrated and processed options.

Fired up with enthusiasm and with the stove nicely hot, Josh starts on the meal which includes a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad that looks impressive and tastes great alongside barbecued meats he says; salt and pepper squid and a paella of sorts taught to him by the mother of a Spanish friend while he was camping on the beach at San Fernando near Cadiz.

Its really important to have the right gear, says Josh. A decent non-stick frying pan is invaluable, as is a good saucepan and stock pot, chopping board and sharp knives, he adds. Kitchen roll is a must for mopping up and you cant go camping without a set of Tupperware boxes for storing chopped and grated ingredients.

But Joshs campsite best friend is his Trangia, a Swedish-designed portable camping stove, which comes complete with burner, pans, kettle and windshield, which he bought in the 1980s on his first backpacking trip around Europe. It lights and cooks in any weather and is built to last, says Josh. I brewed up a pot of tea on it on a Spanish train and used it to cook the perfect Spanish omelette which didnt stick.

High up on his list of essentials for the campsite larder is olive oil, sea salt and garlic too, as well as dried and fresh herbs. Fresh herbs will keep for a good few days as long as you keep them in the open, he says. Just dont be tempted to wrap them in cling film or stuff them into a plastic bag.

As he chops the squid into rings for our salt and pepper squid, the conversation turns to family. If you spend half your time camping, then it stands to reason that some significant life events will happen while under canvas. On one particularly memorable trip to Menorca, he proposed to his wife, Ann-Marie.

Id been out for a walk and spotted some wild rosemary and decided to do a lamb stew, using this as a seduction/proposal meal! It seemed to do the trick and were coming up to our 10th anniversary now and still camping, says Josh, who sports a knitted hat that Anne-Marie, a consultant urologist at Harrogate Hospital, made for cold days by the campfire. Now we have our own children Ruby, eight, and Wilfred, four, its great seeing them running around the campsite, and meeting people from all walks of life, just as I did as a child.

And, as we tuck into our paella with its fiery chillis, smoked paprika and rice thats been bubbled in Manzanilla sherry with its scents of almonds and the ocean, its easy to imagine were soaking up the sun in some Spanish tasca. I almost forgot the rain almost.

Josh Suttons Paella of Sorts


(serves four)

2 chicken breasts

100g Chorizo

1 large red onion

1 red pepper (or green, or yellow es egual!)

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1/4 dried chili finely chopped

Olive oil

Large knob of butter

8oz Bomba or Calasparra paella rice

500 ml of vegetable stock

Fresh milled pepper and salt for seasoning

Half a glass of manzanilla sherry or very dry white wine

1 tsp paprika (smoked if you got it but dont worry)

3 or 4 large flat mushrooms

6 or 8 cooked whole shell on prawns

Salt and fresh ground black pepper


Boil a kettle of water for the vegetable stock. Finely chop the onion and simmer gently for four or five minutes in a glug of olive oil in a high-sided frying pan. Halve, de-seed and slice the pepper.

When the onion begins to soften, throw in the chopped garlic, chili and sliced pepper. Simmer for a further three or four minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic.

While that is simmering slice the mushrooms and chop the chorizo and the chicken into 1 cm chunks. Add the knob of butter to the pan and throw in the mushrooms. Then add the chicken and chorizo, turning to make sure the chicken seals on all sides. Then add the teaspoon of smoked paprika and a good grind of black pepper, together with a pinch of salt.

Add the rice to the pan and stir well ensuring the rice is well coated. Add the half glass of wine/manzanilla and stir. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Turn to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes or so, or until the rice has absorbed all of the stock. Place the cooked prawns on top to warm through, three or four minutes before the rice is fully cooked.

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A Short BBC Documentary looking at Campsite Cooking featuring Guyrope Gourmet and the Paella recipe above

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