Written by Tom Brooks, Director of Food & Beverage at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa

Back in my younger days, my two best friends and I came up with the brilliant idea of spending an entire summer out on the Cape. I say “brilliant”, because none of us had any money to rent a house for the summer… but we weren’t going to let that stop us. And, in fairness, the only reason I was broke was because I had just bought a pristine new 14′ van for my fledgling catering business.

But then it hit me– the van could be our home. Shane, Thomas, and I loaded it up with the essentials: food, sleeping bags, mosquito nets, and citronella candles, and we were off! Later that day we arrived on the Cape in a big white van with ‘Seasoned to Taste Catering’ written in big purple letters on the side. After we pulled into the campground, we unpacked the food and started to cook our dinner. Within a few days people began stopping by our camp, because the food smelled and looked so good. Of course, had we been truly brilliant we would have opened up a little stand and sold the food. Oh well, chalk it up to being young and stupid.

Anyway, here are two of our more popular (and supremely easy) Campfire Cuisine ideas: a grilled stuffed burger and an ultra-easy cheese fondue. (Yes, Mrs. Shewalter, this is the very same fondue I brought into your high school French class all those times. Bon appétit!)

Grilled Stuffed Pizza Burgers
(Makes three 10 oz. burgers)
2 lbs. 80-90% lean ground beef
9 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated
9 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
Fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper
3 Portuguese rolls (or any soft hamburger roll)
In a bowl, combine onion and garlic powders with ground beef. Form into three large, thick patties. Combine cheese, tomatoes, and basil, and place in the middle of the burger, making sure the stuffing is completely surrounded by the meat. Salt and pepper both sides and grill on each side for about 8 minutes to get the mozzarella cheese gooey. Lightly toast the buns, and serve.

Cheese Fondue with French Bread
8 oz. grated Muenster cheese
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup beer
½ tsp. mustard
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 loaf French bread
Heat beer, and let it bubble up to top of pan to release some of the foam. Do not boil. Toss cheese and flour together, and add little at a time to the beer until it’s all melted. Stir in the mustard and the garlic powder, and start dipping.