Breeo Archive: California Foraging with James Barkman
This month in the Breeo Archive Series, we introduce a friend of Breeo who encompasses the grit, determination, and desire to live against the grain that started Breeo and continues to drive innovation.
James Barkman is a freelance photographer, mountaineer, dirt bike enthusiast, avid surfer, hunter, and pretty much an all around outdoorsman, and friend of the team here at Breeo.
James, a childhood friend of co-founder Jonathan, has worked with Breeo over the past few years in everything from photography and video production to product development.
With the amount of travelling that James and Jonathan have done together, they have their fair share of wild experiences. We asked them both to share a story that takes place somewhere out in the west with Jon and his wife living in their ‘96 Casita camper and James in his yellow VW van.
At the time, Jonathan was on the Rethinking Fire Tour, travelling around the North American continent selling Breeo fire pits and featuring them at tradeshows, while James was living his nomadic lifestyle as a freelance photographer. The two of them were travelling often and happened to be in the same area at the same time. We asked both of them to share their version of the story.
”We were in California, Breeo had just been started a year or so before and James was also there living in his van. We were friends and I was like well, we should camp for a few days or a week or something. So we (Jonathan and his wife) went way back this logging service road in the mountains and James came and joined us. He brought his van back and we were back there for days, just Janessa and I in the camper and James in the van.”
They shared that the plan for the trip was to bring a short food supply and forage for meals.
”I think we were trying to hunt grouse or something all day long. So we were ripping around on a dirt bike through these forest roads and there's nobody around in this area, like you can be here for three weeks or a month and never see a soul, so it's kind of like this remote national forest area with all these winding confusing forest roads. Our hunting ended up unsuccessful and we ended up just foraging a ton of berries because I think it was berry season. I forget what kind of berries it was, maybe wine berries or blackberries.”
With their stash of berries and a couple other ingredients, the choices were slim.
”We didn't find that much food, because we weren't good at foraging, but we found some berries!” He continued to share, ”I grew up in Ontario with a lot of friends in the first nations community, and they are professionals at making Bannock. It's like one of their favorite breads, it's a bread you can make in the back country without having an oven. So, I knew how to make bannock and we had flour and baking powder.” With those three ingredients, they made bannock over the flames of an original Breeo fire pit model. “The Breeo we were cooking on was the original Double Flame 15” fire pit. We made a fire, cooked up some bannock, put the berries in that we foraged and that was all that we ate for the last day or two.”
“We made bannock and we ate it with the blackberries that we foraged and it was a great experience, I remember it like it was yesterday. And I actually still make bannock when I'm in a pinch. There was this one trip where I was in Mexico and ran out of food for about a week and me and my friend made bannock and made it all day every day for a whole week. So that was a great, very good experience learning how to make bannock because I guess it saved me in the future!”
A Little Bit About James:
How would you describe your lifestyle?
“So pretty much I've structured my lifestyle to be nomadic and be free to travel and do these things that I love. Photography and my career kind of go hand in hand with that and allow me the freedom to travel and the flexibility to live wherever I want, whenever I want. So at the moment I'm in Colorado. I'm here with my VW bus which I still have and live out of half the time and the other half of the time I home base out of San Luis Obispo, California, which is kind of on the central coast along the ocean there and I live out of a sailboat. So between the sailboat and between the van, I've been pretty nomadic for quite a few years and that's all so I can pursue these passions and hobbies that I have while working from assignment to assignment and project to project.”
James x Breeo:
James has played a valuable role in the product development process here at Breeo, specifically with the Outpost grill which pairs well with his camping and off the grid lifestyle.
“I remember going and testing out a prototype at the Breeo HQ there in Lancaster. It was cool working with them and bouncing ideas off. Figuring out what might work, what might not, and then actually using the final result quite extensively.”
What’s your go-to dish on the Outpost grill?
“My go-to is definitely this tri-tip and chimichurri recipe. It's kind of like this Argentinian dish that a friend of mine taught me. So chimichurri is a salsa/sauce. I literally make it all the time and it's my favorite thing to make on the Breeo. I also spear fish a lot and am a big hunter and it's always a ton of fun to cook wild game on it, but tri-tip and chimichurri is the go-to.”
Check out James’ Instagram for inspirational travel content, exciting stories, and beautiful photography.