Open Fire Cooking With Do or Dine Catering | San Onofre, California

Cooking over an open fire is the not-so-new wave of cooking. Open fire cooking is setting the bar high for aspiring chefs and cooks everywhere. With an outdoor kitchen, you are at the mercy of the elements, creating an experience that is entirely unique. This can be both thrilling and a bit tense, but whatever happens, an outdoor kitchen powered only by fire is an experience you’ll never forget.

This post is going to go through a short history behind open fire cooking, the chefs that are making waves in the movement, and what makes cooking outdoors with fire so special and honestly, life-changing. At the end of the post is a complete list of vendors and ingredients used for everything on today’s menu. If you are looking for a private open-fire cooking experience, get in touch below!

OUr location today is the gorgeous San Onofre. The nature of the area is wild and unkempt, but just beyond the chaos are picture-perfect beaches and famous waves. We set up at the campgrounds, knowing already of an exact location we scoped out a week prior. If you are looking to camp or just come for the day and have a cookout, any campsite would have worked. Each site has a pit and a trail leading up to the bluffs.

Cooking With Fire At San Onofre

Live fire cooking is the only way to be in complete control of the heat and it imparts so much flavor and umami, into the dish. It’s a style that gathers techniques from all parts of the world, Norway, Africa, South America, Mexico, India, places that have used these methods for centuries. In the 1900s cooking in a fireplace or on a cast-iron stove was completely normal, it was only about 160 years ago when the gas range came into common use and stoves became commercially widespread. Today, chefs all over are combining methods, refining them for today, and showcasing incredible skills in a new age.

There are five basic techniques when it comes to open fire cooking: direct heat, boiling, frying, grilling, and roasting. Thanks to its growing popularity, shows like Anthony Bourdain, a Chefs Table with Francis Mallman, and the uprising of outdoor chefs on social media, these skills are available for the world to see. The everyday chef now has the ability to educate themselves and see firsthand what it means to be cooking over a fire. Being able to apply these century-old traditions with modern techniques, is a gateway to truly appreciating just how beautiful and delicate a meal can be when outside surrounded by the wilderness.

It’s a way of life that, if anything, will make you look at the bigger picture of what it means to cook with the elements, slow down and appreciate every step you are taking from the raw beginnings to the smokey finish.

Open Fire Cooking With Do or Dine Catering

Up until fairly recently, cooking outdoors was very simple. It focused more on what was easy to carry and what would last.

Well….that’s not exactly the case anymore. Now we are seeing chefs bring in specialized equipment, gourmet ingredients, and putting the dining table straight into the field. Basically, these chefs have brought their game and raised the bar. Taking nomadic techniques, adding their extreme passion, and creating a new meaning around eating outdoors at an elevated level.

My friends at Do or Dine Catering are no exception to this. Self-taught with years of experience, Chef Nicoletta Grippo and Daniel Hurlehy have created something truly special. With passion and ingenuity, they have successfully combined the traditions behind Italian cooking with modern extravagance and the simple idea of cooking over a campfire.

But what are they using to cook? Well, enter an age where custom grills can be crafted to your exact specifications. Even down to designing their own equipment, these two have put so much passion into what they do. Custom grills are actually pretty common nowadays. Not all cooking is elegant, and these chefs need tools that can take abuse, but also impart finesse into their food. Do or Dines custom-made plancha is probably the most versatile piece of equipment. The three-tiered BBQ is often used to roast vegetables, boil pasta water, bake eggs in cast irons, sear meats and finish off dishes.

Today they used a hearth and mesh surface to roast oysters, as well as, a sort of makeshift tree branch rotisserie to hang the Caciocavallo. Which by the way was slapped on a piece of bread, doused in honey, and sprinkled with chili flakes. Life-changing! Being in the wilderness means you have to be savvy and think on your feet. Chances are something is not going to go as planned.

This type of equipment is virtually indestructible and puts on a great show. It’s a crowd-pleaser every time and makes so much sense why restaurants are now going for an open kitchen layout.

Cooking With Local & Fresh Ingredients

Chefs today prize natural ingredients and back-to-your-roots techniques more than ever. With so much love going into local, fresh ingredients and wood, the most natural ingredient on earth, open fire cooking only improves most dishes.

The menu today sourced ingredients from several local farms and companies: Smitts Farms, JR Organics, Prager Brothers, Catalina Offshore, and Temecula Olive Oil. You can find links to each of them at the end of the post.

Local Oysters // Pomegranante // Prosecco Mignonette

Grilled Oysters // Calabrian Chilo // Garlic Breadcrumbs

Caciocavallo // Local Honey // Chilli Flakes // Crostini

Fire Roasted Beets // Buffalo Milk Buratta // basil Microgreens

Steamed Mussles // Herb Butter // Peroni // Crostini

Nero Di Seppia Pasta // Prawns // Scallops // N’Duja // Pomodoro

If you are curious about the specifics and are looking for a recipe, please get in touch and say hello to Nicoletta and Danny. You will find a link to their website below. Honestly, whether it be bare bones and limited resources, or they have every perfect ingredient at their fingertip, you want to be sitting at their table.

Work With These Amazing Artists & Vendors

Photography // Teresa LoJacono

Food // Do or Dine Catering

Coordination & Design // Peaches 2 Poppies

Floral // Flower Frenzy

Cocktails // The Boundless Bar

Tabletop // Hostess Haven

Rentals // Witty Rentals


Oilive Oil // Temecula Olive Oil

Oysters, Clams & Mussles // Catallina Offshore

Pasta // Rustichella D’abruzzo

Cast Irons // Lodge

Proseco // Amano

Rose // Miraval

Beer // Peroni

Bread // Prager Brothers

Cheese // Caciocavallo

Balsamic // Giuseppe Giusti Di Modena

Salt // Diamond Crystal & Jacobsen Salt Co.

Honey & Pomegranate // Smit Farms

Produce // JR Organics

Knives // Global

Aprons // Hedley & Bennett