It’s never too late to change your life. This is the lesson we can take away from the story of Jennifer Scism, winner of the Iron Chef competition and the creator of the epic camp food brand, Good To-Go.
Jennifer started her life as an interior designer and later trained at the French Culinary Institute to became a chef and sommelier in New York City. By the time she was in her mid 40s she realized that she had spent her entire life indoors barely seeing the world around her. It made her stop and think.
In 2000 she and a friend opened their own 13 table restaurant. Working at the front of the house, Jennifer helped customers pair wines, did the book keeping, and managed the overall ambiance. The next year the restaurant received the People’s Best New Chef Award from Food and Wine Magazine. Then, in 2005 Jennifer won the Iron Chef competition on the Food Network. She was on top of the world.
Still, there was something nagging at her. She knew it was time to reassess her life. It was time for a big change. Throwing caution to the wind, Scism bought a house in southern Maine, started commuting to her restaurant and met her future husband, David Koorits. David was an avid outdoorsman and was eager to help Jennifer explore the yet unknown outdoors. David expanded Jennifer’s world. He took her deep into the woods with a 50 pound backpack to experience the natural world.
To her surprise, she loved the wilderness. The silence and the sunsets were her favorite. Together they explored the Cascades and the Adirondacks, staying out in the woods for a week at a time. That’s when it hit her — backpacking food sucked. She found herself living off instant oatmeal and freeze-dried meals. To Jennifer, it didn’t taste good.
Motivated to make a change, Scism began doing research on dehydrating her own favorite recipes, and the results were good. Then it happened. Her whole world changed in one night when her little restaurant burned to the ground. It was a total loss and she and her partner were completely devastated.
When Anita Lo (her partner) decided to rebuild, Jennifer Scism was ready to move on. She sold her half of the business and moved onto the crazy idea of dehydrated gourmet meals. The brand, Good To-Go, is receiving a lot of early praise. Her Thai Curry even received Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award.
“I mean, I think any hiker knows that everything tastes better in the outdoors because you’re ravenous,” says Kristin Hostetter, Backpacker’s gear editor, who claims food companies that market to ravenous hikers have had it easy for that reason. But she goes on to say that this brand is unique, not only because it’s fast — all you do is add hot water and wait 20 minutes — but because it’s so good.
“It has so many different layers of flavor you’re not used to tasting in a backpacking meal,” Hostetter says.
Good To-Go offers several camp foods and plans to expand in the near future. The meals are high in calories for the backpacker who is burning them up. With choices like Classic Marinara with Penne, Thai Curry, Smoked Three-Bean Chile and Mushroom Risotto it’s no surprise that this company is taking the outdoor world by storm. Their slogan is Real Food. Real Adventure. Too bad the business keeps Jennifer indoors!
To learn more or to order meals visit the Good To-Go website.
What types of food do you add to your pack when camping? Do you like a particular brand of dehydrated food? Tell us what you like in the comment box below, then share this story with your friends. Thanks!