At Helfrich River Outfitters we love food, and there is no question about it, food is just better on the river. Eating a meal with friends and family, along the banks of a beautiful river, after a day of adventures is already going to be good no matter how you serve it. However, cooking a meal on a river trip is also an art form and one we have been working on for over 100 years. 

As in most art forms, the beauty arises from the challenges. It’s not just that we are feeding up to 30 people breakfast, lunch, appetizers and dinner, but we are transporting our kitchen on boats – setting it up and taking it down every day. On top of that we pack all the food ahead of time, there is no running to the store to grab an item we forgot, and we have to pack our coolers just right to keep all of our fresh food at its best for up to 6 days! At Helfrich we lean into these challenges, finding and exploring all sorts of different meals that you would never think to have while “camping.”

When talking about the art of river trip cooking, using dutch ovens is at the top of our list! One of our favorite aspects of cooking on the river is baking, yes baking. We use dutch ovens and hot coals to make homemade biscuits, yeast breads, cornbread, breakfast casseroles and even cakes and desserts every night. 

There is also the epic fire pan. It is on the fire pan you will find a pot of cowboy coffee every morning, next to whatever we are cooking up for breakfast. We use the fire pan not just to grill salmon, steaks, cornish game hens and more but as a heat source when cooking in our huge diameter fry pans. Ever made bacon for 30 people? How about fried chicken? The fry pans over an open flame are functional and also a beautiful way to prepare food. 

Okay so we have talked about bread and cake, fried chicken and bacon but don’t worry we love the fresh produce as well. We have a salad every night and fruit with every breakfast, plus lots of fresh veggies with all of our meals. You should see what we can do with one of those massive fry pans and 15 lbs of brussel sprouts!

– Sadie King

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