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At the Ballibay Camps we believe in real food. We cook as much as possible from scratch and source our ingredients from the wonderful farms and local companies that surround us in the bountiful Endless Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Almost all of our food comes from within one hours drive from camp. We also grow a meaningful portion of our produce from our own garden tended by campers and staff, on sun-drenched terraces right outside our dining hall. We know where the food we feed our campers and staff comes from, every step of the way.
Our kitchen emphasizes local and sustainable produce, grass-fed meats, and free range poultry. Local providers include Hails Family Farm (The same Hails' Farm that Brooklyn familes will see at the Park Slope Food Coop or Bklyn Larder!), LeRysville Cheese Factory, Hawley Farms, and the farms of Endless Mountains Farm Fresh Cooperative (including Woodhouse Station Farm, The Funny Farm, Chaos Acres, Turtle Mountain Farm, and others). Our foods are hormone and antibiotic free, and contain no hydrogenated oils or trans-fats.
We hire top chefs with excellent training and experience to provide a seasonal yet diverse and international menu. By cooking from scratch, our chefs can tailor the menu to fit your child’s dietary needs. We believe strongly that every camper should be able to participate fully in every meal every day, regardless of dietary restrictions or allergies. We therefore "deconstruct" our entrees and dishes - a tray of plain pasta with several sauces, including vegan and gluten free, various meats and sides. This allows campers to build their own entree and enjoy essentially the same meal, regardless of their dietary restrictions. We accommodate all types of food allergies and related restrictions. Please feel free to contact the office to discuss specific dietary or allergy issues with our chefs and medical staff.
Through the journey of growing food and cooking together, our staff and campers support their community and healthy relationships that last a lifetime.
Campers wishing to be involved in the food can sign up for the educational kitchen coop, where each activity period a small group of campers learns hands-on food preparation and participates in the creation of the camp's meal and snacks. The entire camp then enjoys the fruits of their labor at snack and meal times. Snack and meal elements that were created with help from campers are given special mention when announcing meal and snack!
Similar to the educational kitchen coop, campers may elect to help in the maintenance and harvesting of our camp garden. We grow everything from herbs to pumpkins, grapes to potatoes. Through this program campers gain an appreciation for where food comes from and how it makes it from the soil to their plate.
At least once per session the children from each cabin sleep overnight at our campsite and cook a dinner and breakfast together.Chef Alex consults with the campers and staff of each cabin on what foods to cook and the best techniques for a safe and delicious campfire.
Our snack table is set up in the camp dining hall between meals, and is a great opportunity for campers to meet and talk with the camp chefs, and even volunteer in aspects of the camp's food preparation. Members of the camp community can do some informal food learning between meals as they talk with friends. There will often be simple jobs campers and staff can help with, such as making cookies or snapping beans.
As local food maven Alice Waters notes, children try a more diverse range of foods when they are active in all stages of the cooking process. From volunteering in the garden, talking to our chefs and helping the preparation, our campers expand their palates and learn what it means to have a healthy diet.
Commitment, talent and passion are what made Alex Erdmann the chef he is today. Alex has amassed an impressive culinary resume on his quest to become a Certified Master Chef.
Raised in Germany, Alex knew from an early age that cooking was his life’s calling. After completing culinary school and a rigorous apprenticeship Alex entered the German military. He was immediately promoted to head-officer of the troop-kitchen, with the responsibility of feeding more than 2,200 troops, officers and generals.
Upon completion of his military obligations, Chef Alex’s desire to expand his talent and experience took him both near and far. Working in Berlin Germany, the Austrian Alps and the Italian coast of Switzerland and let’s not forget to mention; the Red Sea resort of Eilat in Israel and London all before coming to the United States.
In 1996, Chef Alex was recruited from The Ritz in London by the Manor Restaurant in New Jersey. Four years later Alex was back in Switzerland earning his Masters Degree in International Hospitality Management and studying for the German Master Chefs test he planned on taking once he graduated. In 2002, Alex’s commitment finally paid off and he became one of the youngest Certified Master Chefs in the country.
Chef Alex returned to the United States in 2003 to become a member of the faculty staff at the Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago, which has the honor of being the oldest culinary school in the country. There he helped consolidating their programs, establish a culinary school at the South Shore Culinary Center and planned the new Kennedy-Kings-Colleges culinary facilities.
In 2007, Chef Alex joined the culinary staff at Baker College in Muskegon, Michigan to build their new culinary school. He served as project leader and dean to design and build a 40,000 sq/ft state of the art culinary facility with a restaurant, retail outlet and bakery in only 18 months. The Culinary Institute of Michigan serves now as an anchor for the downtown rejuvenation of Muskegon and has seen a steady increase of student population.
From 2009 to 2011 Chef Alex oversaw all onboard culinary operations as the Corporate Traveling Executive Chef for Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruise Line and later Disney Cruise Line. At both companies he was responsible for standardizing menus, recipes and procedures/training throughout the brand including HACCP and U.S.P.H. compliance. He worked within an average budget of $20Million per ship to streamline operations while effectively reducing cost and waste.
In 2012 Chef Alex joined Lexington College to develop and expand their culinary program. He implemented a new Culinary Gastronomy degree and established a concise curriculum to reflect current industry needs.
Chef Alex also consults for the foodservice and hospitality industry in America and worldwide using his 20+ years of experience. He specializes in new business development, evaluation and optimization of existing operations, recipe and menu development, training and sanitation and safety.
Chef Alex is a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE), a Global Master Chef (GMC) and member of the Association of Chefs in Germany (VdK), the World Association of Cooks Societies (WACS), The American Culinary Federation (ACF), the Research Chefs Association (RCA) and the National Restaurant Association.
We were thrilled to, in summer 2012, have a visit from Jan Hoffman of the New York Times. She featured us in an article on the changes taking place in camp food in the Times' Dining & Wine section. The complete article is available here: