How Tournant’s Chefs Mastered the Art of Open Fire Cooking 

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For chefs Jaret Foster and Mona Johnson of Tournant — a roving restaurant, catering, and events company — anywhere that they can build a fire can also be their kitchen. By creating a moveable kitchen with a number of different grill beds, cast iron pans, and other apparatuses for open fire cooking to any location, the duo prepares all of their catered feasts and events outside, over an open fire, anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

“What’s so special about what we do is that we can literally take our kitchen anywhere. That means that we can set up on a mountain top, or by the sea, or in a meadow,” says Johnson. “We’re inspired by fire stories around the world, where at any point when cooking has been done, at one point has been done over an open fire,” Foster says.

Paying exquisite attention to ingredient sourcing and technique, the duo demonstrates how they make cedar-roasted whole salmon, a mustard and pistachio pesto-rubbed roast pork loin, fire-cooked mussels over smoking pine needles, and a roasted lamb shoulder and vegetable dish that requires a domed cooking vessel made of cast iron that sits on top of the fire, found often in Croatia.

Another dish, that is a favorite of Johnson’s, is escalivada, a Catalonian salad of smoky, charred vegetables. “The transformative power of fire on a simple vegetable is always alchemy, it’s always magic to us,” says Johnson. “I think that’s part of the thing that keeps us so engaged and excited about what we’re doing. It’s always interesting, it’s new every time.” “We’re inspired by all of these global techniques, all of the ceremony around food, as well as some of the equipment, community gathering, flavors, and putting them through a Pacific Northwest lens” says Foster.

“I hope when people come to a meal of ours, they really get to connect with the food on their plate, to remember that it was grown, or raised, or fished, or foraged with care,” Johnson concludes. “And to really appreciate all of the work that happened from the farm to the fire to the plate.”

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