Woody Woodruff is a legend in Dutch oven cooking. Woody's oven was made for the Dutch Oven lovers and Boy Scouts an alternative to the traditional cast iron Dutch oven. The aluminum Dutch Ovens were lighter and required no special seasoning or care. Read more about Woody in his book; "Cooking the Dutch Oven Way", now in its 3rd Edition.
How did I get started making the Woody Dutch Oven? I was at a West Michigan Coastal Kayak Association Symposium and Michael Gray was conducting a breakout session on back country cooking. Michael was using a 2 piece aluminum pot to cook one of his spectacular meals. Being new to back country cooking I asked what he was using to cook in and he said it was a Woody Dutch Oven. And, no you can't buy one or borrow his. Michael's Woody Dutch Oven will be in his will. After the cooking session, I talked with Michael and asked if he would be interested in producing the Dutch oven again. We redesigned the oven to work even better. We removed the legs that stuck out and made the oven difficult to fit through a kayak hatch or pack in a backpack. The lift tab was moved to make using the Woody easier on backpacking stoves. So getting the Woody into production was next. Michael had one condition. We had to call it a Woody out of respect for Woody and his history of Dutch oven cooking
My real job is my consulting business, Tactical Quality Solutions. I contacted Non Ferrous Cast Alloys, in Muskegon MI, who is one of my clients, and we got started with designing and building the new Woody. Thanks to Portenga Manufacturing in Fruitport, Michigan the patterns were designed and made. Harbor Deburring & Finishing in Spring Lake, Mi does the polishing of the castings and then they are assembled and packaged by me in my shop in Dutton, MI.
I was always wondering what Woody's family thinks about me making a Dutch oven and naming it after their father. I tried for over a year to get in touch with the family and had no success. Then one day I got an email from Jane Woodruff asking about the Woody. My response was:"Is this really Jane Woodruff?" It was. Jane, Ellen and her husband Jerry, were very excited that I had named the Woody after their father. We got together over the Christmas Holidays in December of 2010 to tell stories of Woody and exchange gifts. I swapped them each a Woody Dutch Oven for an autographed copy of Woody's book. Jerry shared some stories of events helping Woody when they had up to 50 Dutch ovens cooking at once! Jane and Ellen confirmed the tale that Woody hated cleaning up and would discount ovens that still had some samples of the food in them. They wished us well and are very happy that their father's tradition is being carried on. Jane is sending some photos of Woody and some more stories. Thanks again, Jane and Ellen!!