The hypnotic glow of the coals, the smoky aromas, the gratifying sizzle of dinner cooking over an open flame: Barbecue season simply can’t be beat. And in California, “grilling out” isn’t just a perennial pastime—it’s a way of life. That’s why Anya Fernald, CEO and co-founder of Belcampo, a California-based farm and proprietor of high-end butcher shops and restaurants, created Meat Camp.
Founded in 2015, based on Fernald’s desire to “help people discover their inner chef and grill master,” Meat Camp is a three-day, two-night BBQ boot camp at the Belcampo farm near the base of Mount Shasta (about a three-and-a-half-hour drive north from Sacramento). Guests, who vary by session from amateur home chefs (must be at least 18) to pros working in high-profile kitchens, learn basic butchery and knife skills in addition to open-fire grilling. The teachers are Belcampo company chefs, in addition to Fernald and president Bronwen Hanna Korpi. “I want to let people handle enough high-quality product to build their comfort level with cooking and specifically with meat,” says Fernald. “To achieve that, we let people play with meat and with fire—while coaching around the basic skills that allow you to handle pretty much any situation.”
Campers sleep in glamping-style tents (stylishly appointed, yurt-like canvas structures) set up in the farm orchard, enjoy alfresco family-style meals (with a lot of fresh veggies and greens, to balance the meat-heavy fare), and take part in organized activities like Hike & Horseshoes, yoga classes, and wine-tastings (with meat pairings, naturally). Participants also tour Belcampo’s sustainable farm and learn about the company’s strong commitment to conscious, ethical farming practices. (Want to sample some of Belcampo’s ready-made delights? Visit one of their restaurant-shops in Los Angeles or the Bay Area.)
Fernald says the highlight for most Meat Camp guests is the “Chopstravaganza” dinner. “We build big wood fires and hand out piles of awesome steaks and chops,” she explains. “Cowboy steaks, rib eyes, pork porterhouses, lamb chops, the works. Then our campers practice cooking them. It’s really fun.”
Belcampo also hosts a Meat Camp Family Edition, where kids play on the farm, visit the chickens, pigs, and lambs, and watch movies in the barn while Mom and Dad get their grill on.