Poe & Co. Folk Foods: Superfood Meals from Michelin-Trained Chefs

Julianne Will


Jamie and Jayson Poe are bringing a lot to the table. Literally. For starters, they each have a whole lot of street cred as chefs. Jamie Poe attended The Culinary Institute of America in New York and cooked at Union Square Cafe and Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern. She’s worked as a private chef in New York City, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and Santa Barbara; managed a boutique olive oil company in Napa Valley; and contributed to cookbooks and online publications.

Her husband, Jayson, graduated from Tulane University and New England Culinary Institute. He externed at Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel in New York City, then worked his way up to sous chef of Michelin-starred Solbar in Napa Valley, and then restaurant chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Santa Barbara.


Poe & Co. Folk Foods Founders at the Poe & Co. HQ

Together they founded Poe & Co., through which they offer a plethora of exquisite dining options in Santa Barbara, including event catering and personal chef services, to-go catering, and a Wednesday meal delivery service.

In addition to providing fine dining for hundreds of people every week, they’ve recently extended their extraordinary culinary sensibilities to a new line of camping meals under the name Poe & Co. Folk Foods. Plus they’re the parents of two small children and love to go camping whenever they can. Suffice it to say, they have a lot on their plates!

“We've always worked, so we haven't been able to do big thru-hikes or done any of the hardcore things,” says Jamie Poe. “We've always been weekend warrior types.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that they were satisfied with hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire. “As chefs trying to figure out what to eat that would be delicious, but also the practicalities of the fact that you have X amount of cooler space, the fact that I personally don't want to spend three hours trying to prep a meal - it very much came out of how do we streamline that process,” Jamie says. “For us, dehydrated foods were things that we were aware of, because like everyone else we would go to an REI or a like store, and we would go down that aisle.”

But nothing spoke to them health wise, taste wise, or even branding wise. Seeking to bring a chef ethos and California vibe to the just-add-water meal category, they’ve innovated with a line of spice-rich, plant-based meals that are filling, flavorful, and fuel big adventures.


“I wanted the flavor profiles to be bold and vibrant,” Jamie says. “You're experiencing life —that's why a lot of us go outside, you know?”

Their first three forays into the world of culinary campfire cooking include Black Garlic Ramen Bowl, Coconut Chickpea Stew, and Quinoa Sweet Potato Skillet. All three are vegan, and the latter two are also gluten free. Preparation is as simple as tearing open the pouch, adding boiling water to the squiggle line on the outside of the package (it's always smart to start with less water at first and add more as needed), resealing it, and waiting 20 minutes. You can eat right from the bag — no cooking pot to scrub when you’re done.

The first thing you notice upon opening Poe & Co.'s bright, lightweight pouches is the heady aroma of spices emanating from each. The ingredients are colorful and distinct, with real vegetables taking center stage. They recommend optional add-ins such as an egg or an avocado, along with drink pairings for each respective meal like Mexican beer or kombucha.  

While this is a side hustle right now for Jamie and Jayson, they hope it will one day supplant some of their labor-intensive, nights-and-weekends catering business. So they’re logging early morning hours before the kids are awake to plan and dream, ideating breakfast options to grow the lineup.

“We're more tortoise than hare with the way that we run the business,” Jamie says. In fact, the idea for the Coconut Chickpea Stew had been simmering for several years. Jamie and Jayson liked the idea of reverse engineering Chef Alison Roman’s viral Spiced Chickpea Stew in dehydrated form - “warm and cozy, full of flavor but good for you and full of super foods,” Jamie says.

But it wasn’t until they emerged from the meal delivery mayhem of the Covid era that campfire meals moved to the front burner for the Poes. Going slow means they can ensure the best ingredients and the most flavor in a plant-based recipe that’s better for active bodies and the planet too.

In keeping with the idea of a healthy outdoor lifestyle, Poe & Co. Folk Foods meals don’t come with silica gel packets nestled amid the gourmet ingredients. Because they’re manufacturing their campfire meals in the dry, ideal climate of Santa Barbara, “essentially we’re temperature controlled,” Jamie says. This may mean a slightly shorter shelf life — two years as opposed to, say, 10 — but she and Jayson felt it was worth the extra research and testing.

They’ve been thrilled to expand into the outdoor industry. “Outdoor people are just really cool, free people,” Jamie says. “It’s been a really fun experience to meet people and add something of value to it.”

Having eaten the same meal every night during my last thru-hike, I’d heartily agree that Poe & Co. Folk Foods’s campfire meals add something of value. They’re not only nutritious, but nurturing — as if someone had carefully and intentionally prepared just what I needed at the end of a long day.

Dehydration would seem to be the enemy of “fresh and flavorful,” but Jamie and Jayson have managed to seal a bit of California culinary creativity into every pouch.


Julianne Will is a writer, editor and marketer specializing in outdoor brands. When she’s not on her laptop, she prefers to be on a mountaintop. You can find her at juliannewill.com.


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