Eric Faust swears Stinky Pinky is actually a really great PG game around a bonfire

My love for cooking started when I was young. My father is a chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He worked in a busy kitchen and I use to love going to work with him on days off from school. Any prep work   he gave me I would try to do the best job I could with hopes of making his busy day a little easier. Years later, against his best wishes , I followed in his footsteps. After graduating from the Culinary, I worked in a couple restaurants in the Hudson Valley until I got a phone call to come back to Aureole in NYC where I did my externship. It was the old Aureole on East 61st St. I remember the first day I walked into that kitchen and falling in love with everything around me.  The smells, the stainless everything, the ingredients I had never seen before and the urgency that every cook had to get ready for service. 

After a few years of working my way up the line, I was given the opportunity to become a private chef. It was tough decision to leave the kitchen I loved but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I have been working for a great family for the past 10 years. I travel to Maine in the summers where I get to cook with ingredients that are grown in a garden just steps from the kitchen.  Insanely fresh seafood is caught just off their dock in Penobscot Bay.  It's a chef's dream. 

My wife and I relocated with them to Austin,TX. We now have two incredible kids. Since living in Texas, I have fallen in love with barbecue and all things cooked over a wood burning fire.  The flavors of wood fired pits slowly smoking beef and pork were flavors I had never tasted. I found a new obsession. I bought a small offset smoker and have been practicing the craft every chance I get. I am totally hooked. 

When I found out about bonfire, I couldn't wait to get involved. I am really looking forward to working with some amazing chefs and meeting people that share a love for cooking on an open flame. 

My first memory of cooking on a campfire

...took place on my first camping trip as a boy scout. I was probably 12 years old. It was in the middle of the winter and there was a good amount of snow on the ground. We had to build a fire pit, gather our wood and start the fire with flint and steal. Luckily we were teamed up with some of the older guys who had done this before. I remember just being amazed that we were able to get a fire going but then we cooked our dinner on it. That just blew my mind. We threw a grate over the coals and grilled some marinated flank steaks. We put a few cans of beans on the coals. I'm pretty sure we over cooked the crap out of the steak but it was delicious after a full day of hiking into camp. 

My favorite memory around a bonfire

took place on the island of Islesboro, ME. It was the last night of a 3 month trip working as a private chef for a family that has a summer residence on the island. I have been going there for the past 10 years and have made some great summer friends that have turned into some of my best friends. Many of them are lucky to call Islesboro home and some, like me, were departing the next day to return back home to their families and lives where we spend the rest of the year. On that last night we lit a raging fire. As the sparks flew into the crisp late August sky, we cracked open some bottles and reflected back on all the fun we had together that summer. I introduced them to a game called Stinky Pinky (it sounds like a dirty game but it's not). We had so much fun and shared some giant belly laughs. Log after log got thrown onto the fire and as the sun started to rise the next morning, nobody wanted the night to end. 

My worst experience outdoors

was a recurring experience every spring when I worked in Black Rock Forest with the forest manager. The dirt roads that ran through the property would have to get raked every spring to keep them in good condition. My job was to walk the roads with a shovel and rock pick any of the large rocks that got dug up. It took about 2 weeks to complete and somehow those 2 weeks always coincided with the hatching of the black flies. No matter how much spray or coverup materials I wore, they always seemed to find a way to bite. For me, those were the worst 2 weeks of the year to be in the great outdoors. 

I can't wait to

return to the Hudson Valley and share my passion for cooking with a live fire. 

You Butternut Pass This Up

With less than a month until bon*fire catskills, we're thinking about things we're glad we didn't pass this delicious experiment from last Fall's cookout. The inspiration for this dish came as they sometimes do, by watching another chef and playing with our own fire.

Chef and live fire icon Francis Mallmann creates a stunning spectacle that is equal parts unique and delicious. If you haven't seen it, check out his Instagram here. Go ahead, play with your food.

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Recipe by Chef Ty Hatfield


1 whole butternut squash
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/3 cup chopped rosemary
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Set whole butternut squash next to open fire around 6-12" away, depending on the intensity of the heat coming off of the coals. Rotate the squash every 20-30 minutes until tender. Cooking will take 2-3 hours depending on the intensity of the heat.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to brown. Once brown, add the chopped rosemary. When the mixture has cooled down, add the sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

When the squash is cooked through, break open and scoop out as many seeds as possible. Dress the squash with the brown butter vinaigrette and season again with salt and pepper to taste.

Ben makes a convincing argument for spending February in Maine

Ben Conniff is President and Co-Founder of Luke's Lobster, a Maine-bred lobster shack with a mission to make the world's best lobster rolls by using traceable, sustainable seafood and respecting its providers and communities. Luke's has 24 locations in the US and 6 in Japan. Ben is also the author of Real Maine Food, a cookbook compiling 100 recipes from across the state using local bounty. @lukeslobster

First memory of campfire cookery

Believe it or not, I was a Cub Scout. So my first campfire cooking involved hot dogs on sticks in various state parks around Connecticut. There's no better way to make a hot dog.

Favorite memory around a bonfire

Every winter we take our most senior Luke's teammates up to Camden, ME for the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. We spend the day hanging around a giant bonfire, grilling lobster tails and chowder, and racing toboggans. It makes February worth living through. 

Worst experience in the outdoors

It's hard to have a bad memory outdoors...but I guess my worst execution was a cross country skiing yurt trip friends and I took in Colorado in college. We trekked up the wrong canyon, parallel to the one where the yurt was, and had to bushwhack over the ridge after sundown in a few feet of snow. Dinner in that yurt in the middle of the night was the most satisfying of my life. 

Can’t wait to

learn a ton from our hosts so I can embark on my own farm restoration someday.

6yr old Marissa can outrun a mountain lion.

Chef Marissa Ryan began her epicurean journey by completing a 6,000-hour apprenticeship program at the Colorado Mountain College in 2002. She then moved to NYC to hone her newfound skills in 2006. In NYC she baked bread at Amy's Bread while the city that never slept, slept, and while she also apprenticed with the affineur at Murray’s Cheese.

A year later she ran the catering program at Murray's, acquiring kitchen build-out and merchandising experience, as well as skills to develop more efficient systems in the work place environment. Seeking a more profound knowledge of food, in particular, its scientific value and nutritional aspects, Marissa then entered the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Educating herself at the institute enabled her to confidently create menus that are truly fulfilling in taste and aesthetics; but that also use food as a tool to make those who are enjoying it feel better inside and out.

After this hiatus from the kitchens of NYC, she decided to follow her passion for Italian cuisine and found herself at A Voce. Here, she worked under the formidably successful Michelin Star Chef Missy Robbins and Chef Hillary Sterling, and where she fine-tuned her culinary technique. After rising to the rank of sous chef, Marissa decided to move to a more pastoral setting, Hudson, NY.

In Hudson, NY, she assisted the infamously prolific restaurateur Zackary Pelaccio of Fatty Crab in NYC, and Fish in Game in Hudson, NY with farm research, kitchen build-out, and recipe development. From her rural outpost in The Hudson Valley, NY, she has cheffed at several restaurants including Swoon, Miss Lucy’s, Bonfiglio and Bread, and Kite’s Nest (Alimentary Kitchen).

To keep her work as a chef inspiring and fun, and to maintain a sharp nose for experimentation, she also creates popular food items for busy local pubs in Hudson. This wide variety of experience has given Marissa Ryan a unique outlook on food and the restaurant landscape. For her, food is about community, farming, survival, sustainability and love. As many amazing chefs and culinary arts advocates would agree, add flawless technique to this perspective and no meal will ever be the same.

First memory of campfire cookery

it happened in my twenties out in the Rockies in Colorado. I had a hatred of eggs, but when one is camping, you must take what you have. My buddy cooked the best over easy eggs and sausage I had had (at a camp fire). This instilled my love for eggs again, leaving it a memorable experience as well as instilling a love for cooking over an open fire.

Favorite memory around a bonfire

My 30th birthday party in Hudson New York, several artists came together for this fun event. We had a 16 stall horse barn that 16 artists came together to put on a show. A good friend of mine who also builds sculptures out of reclaimed materials, built 3 17’ sculptures out of wood from around the property and we set those on fire as an art piece… the most magical moment of art and fire I have had the privilege of witnessing.   

Worst experience in the outdoors

I grew up outside of the Appalachian mountains in Maryland. My family were hunters, I went out with them for the first time when I was 6 years old. When we got to our post, my father saw a mountain lion (who had its site on me) as I was the smallest of the bunch. He said “run as fast as you can home”. Which i did….and that lion followed me through the trees...though, as we know, I am here today.

Nick would rather chase a gofer than get a rabies shot.

A Scottsdale Arizona native Nicholas Verdisco grew up with a passion for food.  Coming from an Italian Family, Nick recalls large Sunday meals, making pasta by hand with his grandmother and arguing about if was “sauce” or “gravy”.  However, he never thought food would play such an important role in his life as an adult. 

Although cooking was a passion for Nick, it didn’t become his profession until 20??.  Nicholas graduated with honors from the Connecticut Culinary Institute and completed his externship at Barcelona Wire Bar.  A short time later Nicholas took a position at The School House at Cannondale under Chef Tim LaBant, where his passion for creating modern American cuisine using fresh, local ingredients was born. Nicholas rose through the ranks to become Chef de Cuisine. After five years with Tim LaBant, Nicholas left to go work for acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongrichen as an Executive Sous Chef serving upscale American fare at The Inn at Pound Ridge, a restored, rustic-chic 1833 inn. 

In July of 2017 Verdisco will be taking the helm as the Executive Chef at Bolster, Snow & Company in Portland, ME. @chefnickverdisco

My first memory of campfire cookery

...was when I was 7 or 8 yrs old, and I was in Indian guides, something like Boy Scouts.  And I remember distinctly wrapping the corn, potatoes in the foil and buried them in the coals...  thought that was the coolest thing...My father must have liked pork, because there always seemed to be pork on the fire.  Looking back now, it must have been a loin because I remember him slicing up a bunch or everyone.

Favorite memory around a bonfire... 

is back in high school on Friday nights after football games, what seemed like the whole school would go out in the middle of nowhere and build raging bonfires. We would sometimes stay out all night, or until the wood ran out.

My worst experience camping that I am convinced that no day spent outdoors is a bad day outdoors, always something to learn from.  I guess if I had to pick I was bitten chasing a gofer while camping when I was a kid and I was afraid of getting a rabbies shot so I chased it down and caught it. No fear at that point since I was already bitten and it really didn't hurt too bad.  Also a rabies shot seemed much worse...the little guy had the test for rabies (which was negative) and I got a tetanus shot for safe measure.

Cascun Farm has tried building a campfire with green wood so that you never have to...

First memory of camp fire cookery

Growing up going camping in the Adirondacks every summer, Hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick were my first memory.

Best memory around a campfire

My favorite memory is the smell in the morning from the camp fire the night before.

Worst experience in the outdoors...

Only having green wood to use to try to build a campfire and after many, many tries, having to walk away defeated.

Can't wait to...

Be able to share good food and laughter around the campfire together...always excited to learn something new and create new friendships!

Royal Oak charcoal says it told from the heart of a humble bag of charcoal.

First memory of campfire cookery…

Somewhere in the year 1963, I felt like there was a fire inside of me to do something with my life. So I set my sight on becoming the world’s greatest charcoal and haven’t stopped since.

Favorite memory around a bonfire…

I’ve had a lot of great memories around bonfires over the years, but my favorites are when a group of people come together, collectively, to share their ideas, dreams, and visions of their future. To me, there’s nothing more compelling than standing around a fire with people that care about you.

Worst experience in the outdoors...

Being left out in the rain, with no way to get inside, and all the doors are locked.

Can’t wait to…

Make memories together and learn from one another, united by fire.

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Few things say Happy Independence Day better than grilling outdoors. Why? We've no idea, but we are huge supporters! 

This recipe was created as a labor of love from chef Ty Hatfield, and perfected over a number of test weekends upstate last summer. And while test-taking follows closely behind pulling a double in the hierarchy of things we'd rather not do, this is one kind of test we were thrilled to be part of.

So don't be discouraged if it takes a few trials to get the dish down, happens to the best of us and even the mistakes are often a delicious day with friends.

Recipe by chef Ty Hatfield


2 poulet rouge chickens (any 12-16lb bird will do quite nicely as well)
1/2 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup oregano, chopped
1/4 cup sage, chopped
2 tbsp. garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Kosher salt

Pepper Sauce

2 cups fresno chilies
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil


Combine 1 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup kosher salt with 2 quarts of water and bring to a simmer to dissolve. Remove from heat. Remove chickens from packaging and rinse, and remove the backbone of each bird using poultry shears. Submerge chickens in the brine in an appropriate sized container and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove from brine and dry the birds. Combine paprika, herbs, garlic, chili flakes, and pepper and rub chicken with the dry rub. Let marinate overnight in a ziplock container.  Before grilling, rub the chickens with a small amount of neutral oil and season chicken with salt.

Spatchcocked birds cook best when using the chicken umbrella as seen here. Tie birds with cooking twine and hang from the umbrella leg about 2' from the fire. You may need to move the birds and / or flip them half way through the cook so make sure the ties can be untied and retied easily. Remember the fire gets hot so you can also use heat-resistant gloves! Birds can also be grilled over moderate heat until cooked through (grate grills works best).

Cut chicken into pieces as desired. Serve pepper sauce on the side.

To make the sauce

Remove stems from chilies and split in half lengthwise. For less heat, remove seeds. Process chilies and remaining ingredients in food processor until chunky. Season with salt to taste.