Cooking Up Adventure & Hosting an Off-Grid Dinner
Join professional chef Sarah Glover on the road and off the grid for fresh food and adventure with her Dometic powered cooler, camp kitchen essentials, and other tools of her trade.
Sarah’s no ordinary chef: Refusing to confine herself to the kitchen, she takes her cuisine outside and into nature, where she cooks freshly caught salmon over smoldering fires, forages local food, and dishes up startling delicious meals in nature-inspired presentations. For Sarah, the kitchen is wherever she wants it to be – and that’s usually beneath the open sky, surrounded by nature, and among friends.
Blending her love for food with her outdoor-minded upbringing in Tasmania, Sarah has taken her cooking to the world stage, and now splits her time between Australia and the US. She’s the author of Wild Adventure Cookbook, Wild Child, and the newly released Open Skies Cookbook, all of which are packed with drool-worthy adventure and culinary inspiration.
Whether she’s cooking around a bonfire on an Australian beach or over a grill in the Arizona desert, Sarah follows her intuition and leans into creativity to carve a culinary path that’s uniquely hers.
Breaking the culinary mold
Sarah’s not afraid to challenge conventions: While in culinary school, she became interested in the fire-cooking methods used by the restaurant she worked at. “But the chef, who was a male, didn't want me on the fire,” Sarah says. “He told me that I might ‘singe my hair.’”
She took the slight as a challenge, and taught herself to cook with fire. Soon she found herself cooking fish over a blazing bonfire for 150 people at her brother’s wedding. And now, fire is a signature element of her cuisine.
When Sarah authored her first cookbook, there was a tried-and-true formula in place: “At the time, no one was photographing cooking outside,” she says. “All the recipes were shot inside, in the studio, and they were all really pre-organized.”
That wasn’t Sarah’s style. Instead, she and a photographer friend took to the beaches and backroads of Australia, where the meals she created took on the flavors of the landscapes where they camped and cooked. The result was a first-of-its-kind collection of recipes and photos that set the stage for future projects, including Open Skies Cookbook, which follows Sarah through the flavors and ruggedly beautiful landscapes of an American road trip.
Place and people: two critical ingredients
Drawing inspiration from the landscape and whatever is available locally, Sarah’s dishes can’t be separated from where she’s cooking. “For me, everything is experiential,” she says. “It’s about feeling out the mood and atmosphere of a place – and of course whatever is being harvested at that time is an integral part of the experience, too.”
While writing her first cookbook, Sarah didn’t begin with any recipes in mind. Instead, she hit the road and pulled together fresh produce and local forage along the way – and the recipes naturally emerged.
Sarah wants others to know they can make cooking their own, too: Her recipes are approachable and adaptable, underscoring her belief that cooking can be about trying new things, having fun, and being bold in the kitchen.
Just as Sarah absorbs creative energy from the place she’s in, she gets a lot from the people she’s cooking for, too.
“I love what they bring to the table—literally. Sometimes they’ll bring food, and sometimes it's just their laugh or their conversation. That becomes a part of the ingredient list, really. I enjoy cooking for myself, but it never tastes the same as when you have a group of people that you get to share the meal with, and break bread with. That's kind of the magic,” Sarah says.
Want to get in on the magic of off-grid cooking, and host a dinner of your own? Read on for Sarah’s hard-won advice.
Sarah’s tips for hosting an offgrid dinner
Waves lapping the beach, blazing bonfire, and Norfolk pines swaying overhead: Sarah still remembers the perfect evening on Satellite Island, Tasmania when, during the production of her first cookbook, she shared a fresh and flavorful off-the-grid meal with friends and family.
“We boated up, shucked oysters, and made salmon over the bonfire,” she says. The feast was served off the back of a buggy, and a beautifully set table completed the enchanting picture.
With years of experience creating unforgettable meals in the fresh air of the outdoors, Sarah has piled up a lot of know-how when it comes to planning and executing the perfect off-grid dinner. Whether you’re boating to a remote island or setting up the kitchen at the heart of the campground, Sarah’s tips will help make your next off-grid feast a memorable one.
Tip 1: Don’t bring the kitchen sink
“I think it’s really fun when you’re put into a position that you have to be creative,” Sarah says, so don’t be afraid to leave some things at home. With a little creativity, nature offers up its own tables, chairs, floral centerpieces, and more: fallen-over trees become benches, and big pieces of driftwood become a tabletop – easy ways to transform ordinary dinners into extra-memorable ones.
“It’s what makes every table setting different,” Sarah says. But, she adds, take care not to disturb the environment and always follow local regulations and Leave No Trace ethics.
Tip 2: Think local, fresh, and simple
Hosting an offgrid dinner isn’t just about making and serving food. It’s about the experience – and using food that’s connected to your location can make all the difference.
Sarah typically brings along staples like a protein and carbohydrate, plus some salt and olive oil. But every meal is an opportunity to draw from her surroundings, so learning to identify wild herbs and other foraging opportunities go a long way. So does keeping an eye out for local farm stands, bakeries and markets en route: “You can often find fresh produce or like a nice loaf of bread, and that adds to the conversation around the dining table,” Sarah says.
And don’t underestimate the power of a beautiful setting. “Your surroundings add flavor. It’s almost like its own secret herbs and spices,” Sarah says – a good argument for not overcomplicating recipes, and choosing simplicity instead.
Tip 3: Tools of the trade
“Having a powered cooler for meat and produce is a gamechanger,” Sarah says, and no need for ice means she’s not left with a sloppy mess of water and floating food after just a few days. (Plus, she laughs, there’s not much in nature that can substitute for a perfectly chilled wine cooler.)
“The other thing I love is having a bit of running freshwater to wash your hands and rinse produce,” says Sarah. The Dometic GO hydration jug covers Sarah’s water storage needs, and the Dometic Go water faucet’s simple one-tap interface makes dispensing simple, even when she’s busy chopping vegetables and tending the grill.
Tip 4: Open your table
“Nature brings a sense of calm,” says Sarah, “and the walls between people naturally seem to come down.” For any offgrid dinner, the people around your dining table are the single most important ingredient – and there’s no better place to form new connections, and strengthen existing ones, than over a shared meal outside. Take it straight from Sarah: “Invite people to your table!”