Rodeo champ Wyatt Denny takes his kitchen on the go.
Wyatt Denny is a world-class bareback rider from Minden. Since he was 10 years old, Denny has been working toward his rodeo goals, many of which he’s achieved, and he’s only 26.
“At a very young age, I was already traveling a ton and getting a lot of exposure,” says Denny, whose accolades include invitations to the National Finals Rodeo — which he calls rodeo’s Super Bowl — winner of the National College Finals Rodeo, Rookie of the Year through the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and more. He even chose his college based on the competitiveness of its rodeo region, landing the Nevada native in Texas at Panola College for a few years.
Denny’s rodeo career has taken him to amateur competitions, college competitions, and even professional tournaments every weekend for more than a decade, where first-place purses can total up to $27,000 for one night. In June, he’ll be back at the Reno Rodeo, where he’s competed several years for the top prize.
“It’s profitable for sure,” he says.
But after many years on the road and eating quick-and-easy grub, Denny’s body was feeling the effects. He simply couldn’t compete at such a high level while fueling his body with the junk available at diners and fast-food restaurants. When he started trying to eat healthier on the road, he quickly noticed the expense adding up. So Denny decided to outfit his camper with a kitchen where he could cook while on the go.
Every week, Denny hits the grocery store and buys his staples: turkey bacon, fresh cuts of meat such as pork chops and chicken, and vegetables.
“It’s nothing fancy,” he says, adding that it’s enough that the other cowboys often flock to his camper for leftovers. “It keeps me mentally and physically in shape.”
These days, he really has the process of cooking in his camper down. He opens the window by the griddle and turns on his shower fan to suck smoke out through the vent, and his small refrigerator can hold enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week.
On shopping days, Denny buys and grills steaks. His go-to meals are hash browns, mushrooms, eggs, and a pork chop for breakfast; a simple lunch either made from leftover dinner or a tuna sandwich; and pork chops or chicken fajitas for dinner. Denny also plays with seasonings, stocking his camper with 10 to 15 bottles of spices, including smoked paprika, pink Himalayan salt, garlic, and herbs.
“I like to get fancy,” he says of his spice collection, but, overall, his cooking is “very basic, very simple. If you keep everything super simple and consistent … your body metabolizes it quicker.”
He’ll often whip up snacks in an air fryer as well.
“I just love the way the air fryer cooks,” he says, adding that some of his favorites are chicken wings and jicama “fries.”
Because Denny spends 260 days of every year on the road — living life eight seconds at a time — his camper kitchen is his main cooking space. However, when he’s home, there are a few more tools to play with, and he often fires up the smoker to make smoked fish and tri-tip between travels.
Despite using a full kitchen, Denny stays true to his simple-is-best mindset around food. Even at home, he’s “not like the craziest, fanciest chef ever,” he jokes. Instead, it is just about staying healthy and aiding his body to continue competing at a high level.
Nora Heston Tarte is a local food writer based in Reno. You can follow her local and travel exploits on Instagram @Wanderlust_n_wine.
North America’s fourth-largest rodeo
June 16 – 25
Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center
(courtesy of Wyatt Denny, rodeo bareback riding champion. Serves 1)
1 cup shredded potatoes
10 spears asparagus
1 cup mushrooms
2 tablespoons avocado oil, halved
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s seasoning
Pink Himalayan salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Season potatoes in Ziploc bag with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s seasoning. Add butter to pan and preheat over medium heat, then add potatoes to hot pan. Once potatoes are browned on one side, flip, then start asparagus and mushrooms in same pan with another tablespoon avocado oil. Season with salt and pepper. Continue rolling asparagus and mushrooms in pan with potatoes until cooked thoroughly. Once potatoes have browned on both sides, mash them in the pan and let cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.
Cook eggs to your liking and serve on side.