Since leaving his roles as the chef of Bullard Tavern and co-owner of Holler Hospitality in 2021, Doug Adams has been looking for something to reconnect him with his roots. He found it in the Royal Coachmen, a culinary series founded in partnership with fly fisherman James Park that combines sport and open-flame cooking for a unique culinary experience alongside rivers and streams in Oregon and beyond.
Adams credits fly fishing with literally saving his life. Following his appearance on Bravo’s Top Chef in 2015, Adams was grappling with stress, depression and disillusionment with the high-pressure environment of working in prestige restaurants.
“When you spend your life in the restaurant industry, for a long time you were told to ‘keep grinding, keep your head down,’ and it would lead to success,” Adams says. “In some ways it can, but a life with your head down can have serious negative effects as well.”
It was then that he met Park, owner of Red Truck Fly Fishing, and they bonded over a love of the outdoors, food and the calming sport.
“I knew he was a fly fisherman,” Park recalls. “But he told me that he hadn’t spent any time on the water since moving to Portland because he was so focused on his work in the kitchen. I knew his hours at the restaurant were crazy and exhausting, so I encouraged him to make some time to get out and fish since nothing rejuvenates the soul like being in nature.”
Once Adams stepped away from his high-profile projects, a collaborative pop-up dinner series seemed a natural next step. For Park, the connection between food, company and the outdoors is a “natural way for me to find peace, connect with nature, and enjoy time with friends and family.”
The Royal Coachmen serves hearty, simple, uncompromisingly delicious food that can be cooked in a campground.
“There is a deep connection between fishing and cooking,” Adams adds. “It takes a lot of things coming together for a successful experience in both. Time of year in both is key to what you will be using. Tomatoes in August, not December. Salmon flies in May, not March. Both are truly connecting to nature when they are done right. Like a perfect dish, when everything comes together to light magic, fishing is the same. You have the right fly in the right water at the right time of year? Spectacular things can happen.”