CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mary Brent Galyean’s mother had a very specific rule for her three daughters.
None of the girls could get a drivers license until they had completed a course through the National Outdoor Leadership School, an organization that uses months-long wilderness expeditions to teach students about safety, good judgment and resourcefulness.
“She wanted us to learn that every small action we take not only affects our own safety, but also the safety of those around us before she handed over the keys to a moving ton of steel,” said Galyean, who grew up in Charleston and now travels the world preparing gourmet quality food for adventure seekers in some of the world’s most trying terrain.
“The running joke was that we had to learn that toilet paper was a privilege, not a right.”
It only took that one excursion for her to fall in love with roughing it in the outdoors. Now 34 years old, Galyean has created a lucrative and rewarding profession for herself — a title she calls expedition chef.
Described by her friends and colleagues as a ball of positive energy, Galyean has cooked from-scratch lasagna while taking shelter under a boulder in the Andes, whipped up a six-course breakfast in the wilds of West Virginia, and is known for her “s’mork,” a decadent, blow-torch-finished s’more cake that she can make with little more than a Dutch oven and a few hot coals.
For several weeks each summer, she prepares meals for hungry rafters at Adventures on the Gorge. Some of her specialties there include prime rib injected with watermelon marinade and slow roasted for hours, sweet potato Au Gratin with red apples, Thai-style pasta served with hot sesame cumbers and peppers with cooling tarragon sauce, and salmon poached with Orangina, red onions and blueberries, served with a corn and roasted red pepper salsa.
She does it all without electricity or even running water.
“You can cook anything with tin foil and an open flame,” she says on a promotional video for Adventures on the Gorge.
At 10 p.m. Tuesday, she will make her television debut as a contestant on the Food Network program “Chopped.” She will return to Charleston that evening to make sushi at Ichiban — “the first place to pay me to cook” — and will attend a watch party…