The icing on the cake
The wintering chef at Casey research station, Jordan Smith, has worked in kitchens from the French Alps to the Kimberley, but says the icing on the cake has been her time in Antarctica.
“I've been fortunate to combine my love of travelling and working as a chef, and have had jobs in some pretty amazing places, but this role in Antarctica is the most remote and diverse by far,” Jordan said.
Food is a firm focus for expeditioners in Antarctica and the chefs at Australian stations play a vital role in keeping up morale and nutrition.
“We have four main meals a day, including a hot smoko, because expeditioners need to regularly refuel to help them cope with the freezing conditions.
“It can be a challenging role though as you have to make everything from scratch from mostly frozen, dried or canned food.”
Over winter the chefs prepare meals for about 20 people, while in summer there can be more than 100 on station (with 3 chefs).
At Casey this summer rarely a week went by without an expeditioner celebrating a birthday, and each time Jordan whipped up an amazing cake.
“This is my fourth time down south and I’ve made many cakes over that time, this summer I’ve baked about 15 including cheesecakes, marble cakes, mud cakes and a pavlova too. I get to experiment with different decorating techniques, so no two cakes are alike,” she said.
“It's really important down here to celebrate the big occasions like birthdays, it makes people feel loved and special when they’re so far from home.”
Jordan’s passion for cooking started as a child, baking cakes, pancakes and biscuits whenever she could.
“During my chef apprenticeship I worked a lot in the pastry kitchens and have become known as the cake queen down here on station.”
This will be Jordan’s first winter on the continent and she’ll be keeping 29 people fed, one of the largest teams that have wintered at an Australian station.
She’s looking forward to experimenting and has some great meals planned to break the monotony of winter.
“We are going to have a Mexican feast on Cinco de Mayo, I’ll take cooking classes to teach people how to make Shanghai dumplings and real Japanese ramen, and then of course there’s the Midwinter Feast which everyone looks forward to.”
“I need to be spot on with my planning and watch my stock levels carefully though, if I run out of a key ingredient I can’t just pop down to the shops for more!”