SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. — A content creator from the South Sound is showing millions of people how to blend her two favorite things: cooking and hiking.
Kena Peay’s outdoor chef videos have earned more than 8-million views on TikTok, and counting.
"(Food) is a connector that threads us together, we all need it,” she said. "I'm using Mother Nature as my kitchen, I like to say. Very respectfully!"
With simple tools and basic ingredients she can carry in a backpack, she’s proving there's more to adventuring than trail mix.
At various outdoor locations in Washington and California, she’s whipped up dishes like carne asada pasta, salmon BLT's, and her greatest achievement — a berry crisp, despite having no oven for baking.
“It looked like a pie crust on top of it and I was like, ‘Okay girl,’” she said, laughing. “I don't want to toot my own horn but at that point I was like, ‘You did do your thing there.’”
Her recipes, contagious laugh, and unapologetic enthusiasm have amassed more than 340,000 followers and steady income as an “influencer.” But Peay calls her outdoor cooking skills a “happy accident,” merging her two loves growing up in Frederickson: the great outdoors and cooking.
"My dad was my first park ranger,” she said. "He's always said, ‘Leave it better than you found it.’"
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She credits her mother and grandmother with introducing her to culinary endeavors and is a proud self-taught chef.
"I went to YouTube university, graduate school of Food Network,” she said, laughing.
No one would question her credentials after she landed a spot in 2014 on NBC's show "Food Fighters" and defeated renowned chef Cat Cora.
But working in a kitchen beneath the sky is her preference.
"Even if you're eating something basic, it begins to feel a little more luxurious,” she said.
Her videos are always informative and funny, but Peay also hopes they serve as an invitation for all people to feel welcome in outdoor spaces.
"There is this narrative that you have to eat a certain way to be fit outdoors and I want to dispel that,” she said. "I want everyone to feel like, ‘Hey, I can get out there and enjoy the trail, in whichever way I can get out there and enjoy the trail.’”
Just like nature, Peay's recipes are meant for everyone to enjoy.
"I really love it and I think that comes through in my videos,” she said. "If they get like 60 seconds of joy from me, then I'm happy."
Peay's ultimate goal? Hosting her own show and developing a line of outdoor cookware/tools. Until then, you can follow her on TikTok and Instagram.