You may call me an OUTDOOR CHEF simply because I enjoy cooking outdoors within a wilderness setting.
That's NOT to say I've spent my career outdoors. My career as a CHEF
has taken me to some prestigious Private Clubs, high end Golf Courses, restaurants and Resorts from British Columbia to Alberta.
Talking about the Outdoors -
Yesterday I caught up on watching the 4th Season of ALONE on History Channel.
It certainly brought back memories of my time out in the Great White North (the cold wilderness) and living off the land.
As you already may know, my published cookbook is called “Canadian Recipes of the Great White North”
designed with the Outdoor Theme in the Canadian Rockies and the Okanagan Valley, with Recipes from my hunting experience up in the Chilcotin Region of British Columbia. But, of course there's more to my cookbook, from home cooking, desserts to interactive cute illustrations for the little ones you cherish with love. In fact, my cookbook was published to honour the legacy and memory of my daughter Jenni Michelle Demers
who died at such a young age.
ALONE - TV Series on History Channel
Getting back on topic, I’m always amazed as these poor folks from the ALONE TV Series
who head into the bush on the farthest northern part of Vancouver Island, hoping to survive longer then their competitors.
The Winner takes home hard cold cash of $500,000 - nice!
Oh boy! Is it rough pickings out there! Not only are they tackling the harsh weather, but their food source is slim pickings for sure. With such thick bush it's hard to find suitable berries, wild mushrooms or eatable plants - even in the summer months ! Your only source of food comes from fishing in the cold ocean off Vancouver Island, and that's iffy.
On land, the wildlife consists of Black Bears, wolves, deer, eagles and cougars ( mountain lions). But the wilderness is so thick, it's hard to find any wildlife, unless it finds you first.
Meaning, you're NOT the top of the food chain anymore Dorthy !
In the ocean you have a variety choice of fishes and crustaceans, such as Dungeness crab 🦀
. The North Island Explorer
gives you a selection of what's out there.
I think it's best explained by contestant Brooke Whipple
, who did a for-fun outdoor commercial (that made me laugh so hard), because how true it really is out in the Canadian wilderness.
I know - I've been there!
BUT for now, here's the script of Brooke’s fun Outdoor Commercial ( she would be great in a real commercial for sure ) :
BROOKE’S OUTDOOR SCRIPT : STARVATION ISLAND
EXT : VANCOUVER ISLAND
BROOKE is wearing a dark coloured soft brown cowgirl hat. A long scarf within a multi-bluish coloured winter jacket, outdoor pants and hiking boots. She pops up on camera ( GoPro) bottom up. Her background is Vancouver Island Forest on the coastline - unfriendly environment.
CAMERA : CLOSE-UP
We interrupt this Program to bring you a special announcement…from our Sponsors…
[ Music kicks in ]
Are you feeling tubby, chunky, husky… ROUND ? Maybe you're just a little bloated ?
Well! Let me introduce you to the hottest vacation destination… that at least 10 people are talking about!
( Brooke Flashes 10 fingers in front of camera)
(She appears crazy like)
Welcome to Starvation Island! ( hehehe)
CUT TO : Brooke is in front of a landscape overlooking the cold Northern Pacific Ocean. She reaches out her arms wide and says -
There's no donut shop here ?!
CUT TO : Brooke is in the front of Vancouver Island’s forest background.
There's no taco stand here ?!
CUT TO : Brooke is now standing on a sandy cove with the cold ocean in the background. She points to her stomach and says -
And there's nothing in here !
( meaning her tummy is completely empty!)
CUT TO : You SEE Brooke hopping across the screen on one foot…
NOTE : Voice Over - (V.O.) Means she's on screen but her voice is off screen)
Side effects may include hopping on one foot…
CUT TO : (same background) You SEE Brooke laughing uncontrollably…
CUT TO : Brooke is now lying on the sandy shore preforming “Snow Angels”.
CUT TO : Brooke is now sitting on a log pretending to eat an imaginary Corn-on-the-Cob.
And conversations with imaginary food...
Boy! Know what I like about you Corn-on-the-Cob? Is when I bite into you…you pop in my mouth.
CAMERA : MEDIUM SHOT (3/4)
CUT TO : Background showcases Vancouver Island beachfront and dense forest.
So com’n on ! What are you waiting for ?! Call and book now! Your Starvation Vacation awaits you!
CUT TO : Brooke is back, front and centre with the cove in the background. She waves her arms and hands across ( like a salesman)
But wait! There's more! If you book now, we'll give you one week of starvation, absolutely FREE !
CUT OUT AND BACK : Brooke raises her arms wide to greet you.
We can't wait until you get here !
CAMERA : HIGH ANGLE SHOT
Brooke falls to the ground…exhausted.
FADE OUT :
SHARP CUT : Dramatic BC Landscape showcasing the ruggedness of North Vancouver Island by producers of ALONE on HISTORY CHANNEL.
(The above script is just from me, with my interpretation from watching the program on screen. )
OMG ! Brooke hits it right upon the nail - LOL ! So so funny !
|Chef Bari hunting in the Chilcotin Region of British Columbia|
LOST IN THE WOODS
What makes it so funny, it's so so true! Years ago, when hunting in the dense forest of the Chilcotin
I became lost for over 11 hours, not knowing what was up or down. My compass completely failed. It so happened, I was on top of iron ore, (magnetic) causing the compass to malfunction. In fact, it would spin in many different directions - go figure!
AND - On top of that there was a rogue male Grizzle Bear 🐻
protecting its territory. Luckily I had my 30-06 Browning Rifle ready for any kind of encounter. Becoming LOST isn't something anyone plans to do, but it happens all the time.
Basically an Outdoor course to enable you to go hunting.
My partner was way more experienced then I, with at least 10 years under his belt. His family had hunted all their lives. But still, he made that one important mistake - Never ever leave your partner ALONE !
Really…it was just an honest mistake that anyone could have done. He thought it would be ok to meet me around the side of the mountain as we hunted for whitetail deer 🦌
No biggie- right ?!
Well… as it was…one thing lead to another and I was indeed LOST, deep within the Canadian wilderness. I must of taken a left when I should have taken a right - who knows!
Good thing I knew the basics, like getting a fire started and staying put - right ? Nope ! That didn't happen. When finally admitting to being LOST, I became nervous. Funny thing, even though my training stated,” NEVER EVER PANIC”, it wasn't long before I ran aimlessly through the bush. The thought of being LOST in the dark woods with a rogue Grizzly Bear was certainly NOT my cup-of-tea !
Strangely enough, I started seeing things…like,”thought for sure I saw a couple of hunters way ahead of me?” Yelling out I ran uncontrollably, with rifle in hand, crashing through the dense bush, trying my best to catch up to my imaginary hunters in red. Suddenly they disappeared! WTH ! ( What-the-Hell ) Once again I YELLED at the top of my voice.
It dawned on me right then and there ; my emergency pack was back in the truck - wherever that was ? No food and no way to start a fire 🔥
. Lingering in the back of my mind was that Rogue Grizzly we saw that morning. Bears are good stalkers and can smell you 20 miles away. On top of that, it was now early October with its first snow fall of the season. To make things worse, night was creeping up fast.
I was scared !
When any hunter is lost in the woods, it's common practice to fire off three rounds into the air. It's a hunters emergency beacon, letting others know you're in trouble.
That's exactly what I did.
The shots from my 30-06 Browning ringed in my ears, echoing across the dark forest. I listened to hear any sound, whatsoever. Would there be a human nearby?
Only my icy breath and pounding heart. “So quiet for such a big wilderness”, I thought. It was then I decided to sit down and think about my situation. Looking up to my right extended this steep cliff. Any experienced climber would consider it a challenge! To me though, it just meant a precarious task of climbing the slippery rock to the top. I reasoned, it would be the only way to see where I am, by looking across the valley below.
I was cold ! Even though my heart was in my throat, I proceeded to climb this massive rock-face. To ensure a firm grip, had no choice but to use my bare hands.
Inch by inch I crawled.
After a couple times of just about falling and realizing how high I was, my sore body edged up onto the top of the cliff. Thankful for me, it stopped snowing and the moon overhead, lite the frosty night.
No more trees 🌲
to crowd my vision. Truly, the valleys below were indeed awe-inspiring, but I didn't have the luxury of admiring the scenery. Way in the distance I could barely see Chilcotin River. All I knew, the Junction Big Horn Sheep Range would have been across the river. Relieved to have a bearing, I started to scan the territory. It wasn't long before my eyes came across a lonesome dirt logging road on the far side of the mountain.
I signed deep with relief.
By now, it was a no-brainier to realize there would be a hunting party looking out for me. After all, I went hunting with a party of eight men and I knew they be pretty anxious, looking for me.
Tired and completely drained of energy, I traced my way down to the dirt road, making sure to stop every few feet, to make damn sure I still see it ! It would be a terrible time to fall and sprain my ankle or break my leg too. After a couple of hours, my sore legs and back reached the road of no return. Having no clue which way to go, I picked my best side - Left.
An hour went by.
My body was practically dragging itself, inch by inch. To be sure, I was dehydrated, hungry and cold-to-the-bone. Suddenly I hear the unmistakable sound of an old creaky truck heading my way. Within minutes the head lights were beaming on me, as if I was a deer-in-headlights.
I was rescued!
To this day, no matter if I'm on a hour hike or a day in the bush by myself, I make damn sure to pack along an emergency kit, with things like a emergency cover blanket, tools to make a fire, bear spray, bear bangers, trail mix bars and beef jerky, water, water tablets, a spare set of clothing, including a few pair of socks, knife, flares, fishing hooks w/floats and weights, snares, small axe and small bush saw.
And just as important :
If going ALONE - let family members know where you're going and when you plan to be back.
Going with someone else ? Stick together - never venture off by yourself.
Over all living off the land in the Wild Canadian North can be bring unexpected turns. What I've learned from my experience is to be prepared.
On the TV Series ALONE it's been said, most of the contestants miss their families. For me I feel more ALONE in the city then Outdoors.
My Tricks for Survival:
- When it comes to getting food, if the fishing is good - keep fishing !Don't stop !
- Forging on land ? Collect as much as you can. Watch wildlife patterns with trails.
- Collecting food is a full time job outdoors.
- Set up a WARM shelter with makeshift fireplace as quickly as you can.
- Keep WARM at all times.
- You have the Spring and Summer to collect as much food as you can find. When it gets cold ( Fall to Winter) the source of food drops considerably. Fishing won't be productive.
- Is it constantly wet ? Need a fire ? Always look under deadfall for dry material to burn, even in the Winter months.
- Never let your fire burn out.
- Always pitch shelter on higher elevation to prevent from flooding.
Contestants Brooke and her husband Dave Whipple ( both from Alaska) made the best shelter. They made a comfortable WARM cabin with a makeshift fireplace. It's exactly how I would do too. Unfortunately they didn't win due to the food supply, but their shelter was perfectly done.
The winners were two brothers from Toronto, Jim and Ted Baird. It was indeed touch and go but they did prevail.
As a CHEF
I instinctively case out the land I'm hiking to see what I can forge, just in case I find myself in SURVIVAL MODE.
Living off the land isn't a picnic - YOU MUST BE PREPARED.
By Chef Bari
NOTE : I no longer hunt as I don't need the meat for my table. Hunting to me wasn't ever about the thrill or the trophy. It was strictly to put food on the table for my family
Also, check out my recipes HERE