As outdoor enthusiasts, lovers of the wild, and explorers of new culinary ground, we find ourselves seeking new inspiration often. In search of both fresh territory to traverse and time-tested fundamentals to restore, we’ve come across stories, people, and practices that have fueled some of our most unforgettable moments in the outdoors. We want to share these stories with you, our greatest source of inspiration from the very beginning.
Shared meals. Spontaneous adventure. Cultural exploration. These are not only the things that make photographer, entrepreneur, and traveler Mychael Henry jump out of bed in the morning. They also form the center of where he discovered himself.
An avid student of anthropology, Mychael’s passion lies at the heart of this complex intersection of culture, food, soul, and travel.
“An anthropologist would rely on the assumption that ‘the best way to understand a group of people is to interact with them closely over a long period of time,” Mychael said. “For myself, I do that through cooking, photography, and travel. Each an opportunity to connect with others.”
The Power of Provisions
Taking every opportunity he has to break bread with old friends and new acquaintances, Mychael’s initial passion for cooking has developed into one of cultural expression and connection.
“Cooking and eating together has the ability to gather people, is a foundation of relationships, and is a vital part of our cultural heritage,” he said. “Food provides more than just nutrition, it is a means of expression.”
From thoughtfully-planned intimate dinners to impromptu outdoor meals, Mychael seeks the deeper joys of the craft - the benefits of patience, the flavor of hand-harvested additions, and the harmony of slow-cooked meals and natural conversation. He also sees the expression of this passion as a significant indicator of what lies within us.
“It can be said that what we eat reflects our values and identities. Food then, also has a symbolic significance. When I want to better understand a group of people, a culture or a community, the question that comes to mind is ‘Where do the locals eat?’ Better yet—‘Where do the cabbies eat?’”
Supplementing his love of food and culinary creativity is Mychael’s passion for his work. A dedicated photographer with a knack for capturing the beauty in simple, quaint, and even mundane moments (in addition, of course, to the kinds of environments amateur photographers only wish we could truly capture), Mychael’s style and natural curiosity in the environments around him have proven a meaningful channel for discovering more of himself.
“Photography is how I visually interpret and document the world, the camera acting as a tool in the craft of visual storytelling,” Mychael shared. “It is a novel journey every time, inspiring a cornucopia of taste, smell, touch, sight and sound.”
Sources of Inspiration
Committed—even a self-proclaimed junkie—when it comes to travel, Mychael’s pursuit of inspiration has led him to quiet, sun-soaked beaches, dense, moss-covered mountain paths, and high-altitude, breath-stealing redrock lookouts, to name a few.
“I have an ever-expanding list of places I want to visit. The majority of these places, I’ve either come across in a photo or read about in a travel journal. The harder the place is to get to and the fewer the people I know that have been there, all the better.”
To those feeling the undeniable urge to explore, his advice is simple:
“Scratch that itch.”
A seemingly bottomless well of good vibes and charisma, Mychael believes his (and everyone else’s) best work and self surfaces when passions have a natural opportunity to mingle.
“This is the intangible, non-physical part of us, where real emotions and character lie. It’s the expression of soul.”
It’s no wonder he both actively seeks out and patiently waits for these moments.
What do you consider the “essential” objects when traveling?
“Other than water, a camera, a headlamp, and Blistex, the essentials change depending on the adventure. But if I’ll be cooking, I’ll always bring a good knife and a cast iron skillet.”
Describe the actions you take or the mindset you try to tap into to keep yourself on track personally and professionally?
“I’ve always had a difficult time staying focused. I have a natural tendency to wander, which is great for traveling, but sometimes can leave me feeling directionless in day-to-day life. Lately, I’ve been practicing the art of routine. By chunking a number of day-to-day activities together, it makes it harder to skip out on one.”
You are obviously a lover of cast iron. What advice do you have for other new or aspiring cast iron cooks that don’t know where to begin?
“The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone is to make sure it’s thoroughly heated before using. Keep it clean and well seasoned. But most importantly, have fun with it. Cast iron is a versatile tool that can make the experience of cooking more enjoyable. I can make a cake, bake bread, fry chicken, and sear a steak - all in cast iron. It does just about everything. There is also something romantic about the fact that if you take care of cast iron, it can be handed down and last for generations.”