Requirements of an Antarctic chef

Hours of work

All the stations work a six day week with Sunday off and this also applies to the chefs. The chef is one of the hardest workers on station, producing three meals a day, six days a week, so it's important to be well organised.

During the winter months, the chefs soon organise their work so they can fit in 'shopping' from the stores between cooking and paper work.

During the summer months, even with two chefs it can be a busy time. Organise the work between the two of you so there is still plenty of time to do all the other thing apart from the cooking. Even though we don't set your work hours from Kingston, we would like you to abide by some guidelines during the summer months when there are two chefs on the station.

Menu selection

This can be more difficult than expected. It is important that the menus contain variety and that they are nutritionally balanced.

Expeditioners are from diverse backgrounds, with different tastes and preferences. It is important that your menu selection reflects the eating habits of all these people.

Encourage suggestions and feedback and you will identify their eating preferences. Plan your menu according to their preferences but remember the commitment you have to stock control.

Second chefs

During the summer if the station population is over 50 for extended periods, there will be a second chef working alongside you.

Sometimes the incoming chef will arrive on an earlier ship or plane and the outgoing chef will stay over after the station changeover and you'll work together. At other times a chef will be employed for the summer months solely as a second chef.

When the two wintering chefs are working together, up to the station changeover, the outgoing chef will be in charge and after the station changeover, the incoming chef will take on that responsibility.

Usually when two chefs are working together they do just that – work together, both choosing menus, and doing the 'shopping' from the store.

It is important to remember though that at the end of the day, someone has to have the final say on what food is used, and the incoming chef needs to be mindful of the other chef's wishes while you are cooking with the supplies they've been rationing for the past year.

The outgoing chef needs to remember that the new chef will want to keep certain stores for special occasions during the coming winter, and that chef needs to be careful when using the stocks after changeover and resupply and respect the other chef's wishes.

If you are a chef employed for the summer months only, you'll be working with both the outgoing chef up to station changeover and the incoming chef after changeover.

For all of your time, you need to be mindful of the wishes of both the other chefs as it is ultimately their responsibility to ration the stores for the full year.

if you are a wintering chef working with a summer chef, you will be their supervisor and you need to treat him or her with respect and form a good working relationship. Again, work together each choosing menus within these guidelines.

Starting out

Whether you arrive at your station at the beginning, middle or end of summer, you'll be replacing another chef. We trust the present chef, by the time he or she departs, will have a standard of performance at a level the station is happy with, having listened to what the group requires, and produced that product and run the kitchen in a professional and courteous manner.

When you arrive, the majority of people may be staying on. These people will be used to the way your predecessor cooked and ran the kitchen.

During these first few weeks, try not to provoke too much change. Sure, there may be things you'll want to change, but at first make notes on the type of changes you'd like to make and introduce those changes after the main station change over. Your cooking will to a certain extent be different to your predecessor, sometimes the old group will think for the better, but not always!

Try and cater for the group as a whole. Don't go overboard, start off with a decent standard of food and then build from that. Relax, look, and listen. Treat the slushies with respect. Do your best to be on friendly terms with everybody and you will be giving yourself the best start.

This page was last modified on 19 March 2013.