Food & Drink
Written by Drew Prindle – Posted on July 2, 2014
Planning your meals before you head out on a backpacking trip is always a bit of a give-and-take situation. If you want to eat something that doesn’t taste like rehydrated cardboard, you’ve typically got to pack some extra weight, but if you want a light pack, you need to stick with dehydrated meals, which limits your options.
It’s not particularly hard to do by any means –you can easily get by with pasta, rice, oatmeal, and other just-add-water meals –but that stuff gets bland and boring really fast. If you want to go a bit more gourmet, check out Good To-Go camping meals.
Unlike Mountain House and other dehydrated meal pouch brands, Good To-Go meals are made by a professional chef. And not just any old chef either — GTG is the brainchild of Jennifer Scism: an accomplished chef, former co-owner of the highly regarded New York restaurant Annisa, and winner of the popular TV show Iron Chef America. She was part of a team that beat Iron Chef Mario Batali in the show’s first season.
After retiring from the restaurant business, she set her sights on a relatively neglected category of food: dehydrated meals. Dissatisfied with the backcountry foods that were available at the time, she founded Good To-Go with her husband David Koorits to offer gourmet dehydrated food entrees for outdoorsy folk.
Right now GTG offers three different dishes: Thai curry, herbed mushroom risotto, and smoked three bean chili. The company’s selection is definitely a bit limited at this point, but what they lack in diversity they easily make up for in flavor. We tried them out for the first time last weekend, and all three were hands down the best food we’ve ever eaten on the trail.
Snag yourself a couple bags before you head out on your next trip. You won’t be disappointed
Fun article in the Boston Globe….read what Kari has to say about us below:
HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE
From muddy bike races to picking apples downtown
In “Wild,” the upcoming film based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, Reese Witherspoon plays a woman on a solo mission to hike 1,100 miles of the West Coast’s Pacific Crest Trail. The movie, which hits the silver screen December 5, is about determination, emotional struggles, and… not eating particularly well.
“So we’re talking about dehydrated food… Power Bars and Cliff bars and, you know, Snickers candy bars and… dried fruit,” Strayed told NPR’s Diane Rehm back in 2012. She’d mail boxes of food to post offices along the trail, then pick them up as she went along. “And then if there was a store along the way, you know, you would just be ecstatic, and you would buy everything you could.”
At the time, Strayed didn’t have access to products such as Good To-Go, a new line of gourmet just-add-water meals that went on sale online and in select stores this April. Its creator, Jennifer Scism, a chef and former co-owner of contemporary American restaurant Annisa in New York City, kickstartedthe brand not long after she began hiking with her (very outdoorsy) husband.Photo credit: Good To-Go
“We were going for a week in the Adirondacks, and my husband and I decided to go lighter on our packs,” Scism told us. “We’re those crazy people who cut the ends of our toothbrushes [to save space], and food was the last crux.” But for Scism, sub-par trail fare was not an option.
“There are absolutely no preservatives or additives—it’s just real food,” Scism told us, explaining that every dish is made like normal and then dehydrated using a dehydrator. “Everything that I do comes from my cooking background. It’s probably more costly than what the competitors make out there, but the outcome is a much better product.”
Sure, you could dry some food out in your oven and toss it in your pack. But you could also pick up Good To-Go’s Thai curry ($6.75 for one serving), which one reviewer declares tastes “just as good, if not better, than a lot of curries I’ve had.” It also recently won Backpacker Magazine’s prestigious Editor’s Choice Snow Award.
So go forth, and be wild
Good To-Go: Delicious Dehydrated Meals Made In Maine
When it comes to choosing what kind of food to bring on a weekend camp-out or multi-day backpacking trip, convenience is king. You want easy to prepare meals with ingredients that won’t spoil, spill, or attract the attention of the furry local residents who are every bit as hungry as you are. For these reasons and many more, freeze-dried, boil-in-a-bag meals are popular alternatives to pre-mixing, storing and preparing your own breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the backcountry.
For years, the selection of prepared meals available at your local Eastern Mountain Sports stores has been dominated by Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry. Both brands offer lots of freeze-dried options for breakfast, lunch and dinner that are ready to eat within minutes after pouring boiling water directly into the pouch they’re sold in. For variety and convenience, these meals are tough to beat and as John K. Watts said on our Facebook page: “+1 for Backpacker’s Pantry Jamaican Jerk. That’s my go to freeze dried meal!”
On September 30, a Maine-based newcomer to the prepared foods game named Good To-Go took a huge step forward in the form of an Editors’ Choice Award from Backpacker Magazine. While the announcement won’t be public until October 15, we at Eastern Mountain Sports have had the pleasure of watching the Good To-Go success story unfold since May when we started carrying their tasty line of dehydrated meals in 10 stores.
Since May, Good To-Go’s gluten-free Thai Curry, Smoked Three Bean Chili, and Herbed Mushroom Risotto have sold so well, they will be available in 33 stores by the end of October and in all 68 of our stores later next year. It’s hard to believe that this explosive growth started with a chance meeting at a trade show this past January in Providence. As Brian Nasser from our product management team explains: “They were just getting started and their rep only had three bags with stickers on them. I liked that the fact that they were super local and trying to do something new. I decided to test it in a few stores as soon as I tasted it and Good To-Go responded with great packaging and excellent results.”
Has Good To-Go made some incredible scientific breakthrough that has enabled them to make exceptionally tasty, gluten-free meals at reasonable prices?
In fact, the creator of Good To-Go isn’t a scientist at all. Jennifer Scism is a world-class chef who was on the team that defeated Mario Batali on the popular Food Network show, Iron Chef and co-owns Annisa, a nationally recognized restaurant in NYC. After being introduced to hiking and backpacking by her husband David Koorits, Jennifer was inspired to find a better way to enjoy delicious food while adventuring.
Jen began preparing some of her favorite meals as if she were about to serve them to her family and then experimenting with her countertop dehydrator. It’s the dehydration process that makes Good To-Go different. I asked David to give me the details:
“Freeze drying is done by taking the food down to -50 to -80 Celsius. Then using sublimation, a vacuum is applied to pull out the water. The freeze dried ingredients are then combined in the proper portions to make a meal. In contrast, Good To-Go dehydrates its meals. All the ingredients are fully cooked together allowing all the flavors to infuse like a dinner cooked at home would. At that point the meals are dehydrated and packaged. Dehydrating allows the meals to come back with more flavor and taste. For example, the broccoli in our Thai Curry comes back with texture and chew when you bite into it.”
The way Jen and David go about running their business is every bit as impressive as the way they prepare their meals. If you’re looking for a definition of “transparency,” like the Good To-Go page on Facebook where you’ll be treated to regular updates on everything from the latest staff bike ride to the newest piece of kitchen equipment.
I met David and Good To-Go marketing coordinator Emilie Chatelain at a staff training event last month and I was blown away by both the quality of their products and their dedication to sharing it with active people wherever they roam. You’ll find Good To-Go handing out free samples at trail heads, adventure races, local market days and of course, at our stores.
So, if you’re looking to spice up your next adventure with food that has earned the praise of Outside Magazine, Mountain Online, and Gear Junkie while supporting a small New England-based business that’s doing things the right way, I hope you’ll consider trying one of Good To-Go’s dehydrated meals. If you do, be sure to tell us what you think on the Eastern Mountain Sports Facebook page!
Partners in business and in, life David Koorits and Jen Scism (with their dog Bella) have turned their passion for adventure and love of good food into a thriving business based in Kittery, Maine.