AlpenGlow Adventure Catering — ‘We Are Here to Make Magic Happen’


(AlpenGlow’s founder, Robert Dudzik, is shown with Erin DeJamette, head chef and his business partner | Photo courtesy of AlpenGlow Adventure Catering)

More than two dozen catering companies advertise their services in Central Oregon (15 in Bend alone), yet only one specializes in “providing lavish meals for adventurers heading into the woods.” Guests of AlpenGlow Adventure Catering — who range from a couple enjoying a romantic meal at Crater Lake, to a group as large as 5,000 — have found that this five-year-old company has “no restriction on what we can do and where we can do it,” to quote its founder Robert Dudzik.

Even in the most remote wilderness — such as the Alvord Desert, located in Harney County almost 200 miles southeast of Bend — “clients are served on a fully set table, with napkins, tablecloth, and real plate ware,” he said. Customized selections made from sustainably sourced ingredients and prepared over open flame and coals include meals such as braised beef with sweet potato and butter gratin; braised mustard greens with carrot foam and toasted hazelnuts; and seared salmon fillet with charred tomatoes, shaved fennel, and beetroot puree.

“We keep pushing the boundaries of the kinds of meals that can be created outdoors,” Dudzik said, “utilizing over-fire and over-coal cooking for most of our meats and vegetables. There are options for everyone.”

Dudzik, born and raised in the Seattle area, “has been in the outdoors all my life.” Rising through the Boy Scout ranks to Eagle Scout (earned by only about four to six percent of scouts), and subsequently obtaining a Bronze Palm (putting him in the company of only 25 percent of Eagles), “I started getting so focused,” he recalled,

“Attaining Eagle Scout status proved pivotal in obtaining my first job with Backroads Active Travel, an outdoor tour company,” he said. “As I was told during multiple interviews, it ‘shows you are dedicated, and have the drive to finish massive undertakings.’ Also in my favor were having been a wilderness guide, and completing hardcore first aid training.”

According to Dudzik, “Those four years with Backroads were the best of my life so far, enabling me to travel the world. My personal highlight was biking down the entire coastline of Puglia, a southern region forming the ‘heel’ of Italy’s boot, with other company guides. We ate, drank, and cycled 700 – 800 miles in five days — with ‘pit stops’ featuring such delicacies as pistachio cream-filled puff pastries and fresh mozzarella.”

However, he said, “Eventually, the rose-colored glasses started to come off as I realized that in the last six years, I had never stayed in one place for more than a few months. I was ready to put down roots somewhere.”

And do what? “The idea came to me as I was walking out of the woods one day. I had loved food, cooking, and the outdoors all my life, and realized that creating delicious meals for others in the woods could allow people to enjoy the outdoors even more without feeling like they were ‘roughing it.’”

Enticing as this idea was, “it wouldn’t have worked without convincing Erin DeJamette to join me as head chef and business partner,” Dudzik said. “We have been dear friends for a long time, and I can honestly say that this venture would not have been possible — or as joyous and fulfilling — without her.”

“Possessing an incredible palate, and armed with a rolodex of menus and ideas from having cooked in three restaurants and helping to open one of her own, Erin is so dedicated to what she believes in — which is a quality we share. Yet she remains humble about her talents.”

As examples, “balsamic focaccia glazed with caramelized onions and Manchego cheese is one of her standout creations, as are BBQ oyster mushroom sliders with homemade, gluten-free buns and sauce that actually made me teary. I was floored,” said Dudzik. “And our vegan clients exclaimed that they had never tasted buns as delicious.”

He admitted that “The main battles AlpenGlow Adventure Catering faces are the elements and bugs. One time we found ourselves in the middle of a severe thunderstorm and had to chase down two tents that blew away. We got our clients into vans, and sent them home with to-go boxes. We’re able to pivot quickly in adverse circumstances, and will do everything we can to make the experience work.”

Dudzik cited two other examples that demonstrate the company’s professionalism. “At one fundraising event, our small staff prepared three meals a day for four days for a group of 1,843 attendees. Another time, we went from quoting our price to making and serving food for 130 people — ‘turned and burned,’ as we say — in less than four days.”

Dudzik added that “We also believe it is our mission to help feed others in the community. All food items that are not utilized during a meal are repurposed into Hope Care boxes, and donated to charities, food banks, or local community members in need.”

Summing up what drives him and his AlpenGlow team — resulting in a quadrupling of business from 2022 to 2023 — Dudzik said, “We always want to bring joy and some amount of happiness to the individuals who hire us. There’s so much negativity these days, and we’re committed to being there for people, and to being kind. We are here to make magic happen.”


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