A road trip with a kitchen under the hood
It all started with a 1989 Toyota Camry. Well, actually, two Camrys, purchased from a junkyard and made into one by the mechanically minded Dan Dresser.
"It's a real little car, with a four-cylinder engine, but the exhaust manifold has this aluminum heat shield that gets up to an almost perfect temperature for cooking," said Jason Wussow, a local musician and coffee shop owner in Duluth.
Um, yes, Wussow did say "cooking."
Wussow, a 1995 graduate of Jefferson High School in Alexandria, is the son of Jan and Roger Wussow of Garfield.
Once Dresser got the car running, he and Wussow headed across the country from Duluth to Taos, New Mexico, on a culinary adventure experienced by few others - if any.
Enter "Cooking on the Car, Episode 1," an 18-minute film about their adventure. The film can be seen on YouTube.com.
"You can cook almost anything you'd do in a Dutch oven or Crock-Pot," said Wussow, rattling off a list of meals the duo concocted as they traveled across the United States. "We did blueberry muffins, venison quiche, a pheasant and mango-lime rub over basmati rice - we cooked the rice first, then stuck it under the seat with the heat on and cooked the pheasant."
Dresser and Wussow actually cooked the food while they drove. They had two pans that fit perfectly between the engine and the hood of the car. Later on, they added an aluminum kettle to the mix, so they could boil water on the road (and make their own French-press coffee).
Wussow said they will begin filming "Episode 2" during their next trip, which is planned for December 26.
They are heading west to California to hopefully challenge Jay Leno, NBC talk show host, to a cook-off in the studio parking lot in Burbank.
They're hoping to amp up the publicity for this trip, Wussow said, so they're taking a few more people to help with filming and daily updates to the Internet.
"We're trying to find anyone who has some Hollywood contacts," Wussow said. "We don't know if it's industry ins that gets you the attention, or is it weird dorky larks? We're going with weird dorky larks."
More information and updates about their adventure can be found on their website www.cookingonthecar.com.
People can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Celeste Beam, Echo Press reporter, contributed to this story. The Duluth Budgeteer News, the Echo Press and the Morris Sun Tribune are owned by Forum Communications Company.