NMBR's Jake Quiñones | Fridge-to-Grill Freedom with the Dometic CFX | Gila National Forest

Ten years ago, I was using an ice cooler for cold food item storage. Ice chests are unforgiving when it comes to rough road travels. I think we’ve all had that experience of opening the ice chest at camp only to find our food is waterlogged and our beverages are leaking due to miles of sloshing and pummeling in a slurry of ice. When I began guiding professionally and leading week-long overland trips, relying on ice to keep food fresh was no longer an option. At that point, I made the choice to go with a Dometic fridge. For nine years and over 100,000-thousand miles of travels, that fridge cooled reliably and never left me stranded with a dead battery. When the time came to upgrade to a more advanced unit, Dometic’s CFX 40W offered a whole new level of efficiency and features.

As NMBR’s overland guide services have evolved over the years, I’m now providing meal services and cooking demonstrations on some of NMBR’s custom guided and private tours. With that said, I have to be able to carry a large amount of food safely and effectively over the course of many days and hundreds of miles. You could not do this with an ice chest—period. I’ve noticed that the CFX 40W cools constantly and consistently. Many of my days start with freezing temperatures at elevations above 8,000 feet. By afternoon, I’m out on the open desert plains and temperatures have climbed into the 90s. Despite the wide variance of outside temperature, the CFX’s cooling temperature remained steady. This means I don’t have to worry about putting out frozen coffee creamer for clients on cold mornings, and I don’t have to worry about food going bad on the hottest summer days.

Without the fridge, I wouldn’t be able to provide the quality of meals I’m serving on NMBR’s trips that feature this service. Many individuals that book a private or custom guided NMBR trip want the convenience and comfort of having meals prepared while they relax and enjoy the surroundings and other aspects of the adventure. For companies and film crews, they want to focus on their work, be it infield training or shooting a commercial rather than worrying about preparing meals at the end of a long day under lamplight. Because I have a tremendous responsibility when I’m feeding clients, I have to have the best and most reliable equipment. This is why I chose the CFX series.

Being a New Mexican, many of the meals I’m preparing on the backroads undoubtedly include a regional flair. My approach to cooking is to prepare hearty and healthy meals that utilize local ingredients as much as possible. You can’t talk about New Mexico’s cuisine without mentioning Hatch green chile (yes that’s chile spelled with an “e”). Hatch is a small community in southern New Mexico located along the banks of the Rio Grande. The town, known as the “Chile Capital of the World,” grows the most flavorful and meaty green chile available. I make it a point to incorporate Hatch green chile into meals where appropriate. Don’t worry, I’m not mixing peppers into pancakes.

Some examples from NMBR’s dinner menus include griddle-prepared Fajitas with fresh chopped green chile (in place of bell peppers), New Mexico-raised Angus steak topped with roasted green chile strips and melted asadero cheese, and charro beans with sautéed jalapenos, onions, and garlic. The meal I enjoy cooking the most, and the most famed, is NMBR’s breakfast burritos. At sunrise, I fire up a three-burner stove with a massive cast iron griddle atop and pile on chorizo sausage, potatoes, green chile, jalapeños, potatoes, onions, and an ultra-secret blend of spices. The mixed aromas of the sizzling griddle, coffee brewing, and tortillas toasting seems to bring the heaviest sleeper out of their tent.
People are always surprised at the variety and amount of food that I’m stocking in the fridge and the
meals I’m preparing in the middle of nowhere. The meals should be as outstanding as the scenery and adventure; that's my approach to cooking on these trips.

NMBR’s Privately Guided Overland Tours & Overland Training: For those individuals, groups, agencies, and companies seeking a custom tailored, organized, and guided overland adventure and/or 4WD/overland-based training, New Mexico Backroads provides private guiding and training services to suit specific dates, unique preferences/needs, and all experience levels. Exclusive to NMBR's privately guided overland tours and training is the option to have NMBR provide (full or limited) meal-service arrangements. Contact NMBR for details. Ready for your next great adventure?

Video via Dometic USA & Heavy Metal Concepts // Photos via Dometic USA & Patrick Bennett