Food at the stations is prepared by a qualified chef. Each station has a standard commercially equipped kitchen with gas cooking facilities. All expeditioners take their turn to help in the kitchen, working the slushy roster.
All expeditioners get a healthy and balanced diet on station. Special dietary requirements (such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerant) are also catered for. When necessary, special foods are brought down to the station as part of the re-supply. Stations are stocked with about 700 different varieties of foods each year.
Food quantities are based on a how much food each person consumes on average in one year. That's approximately 780 kg of food, and about 380 L of liquids such as juices, soft drink, oils and sauces per person. This is called the person entitlement. To determine the amount of food to resupply, we need to know how many expeditioners will be on station every day between resupplies, and use the correct person entitlement to estimate the total quantities.
Eggs and fresh vegetables are available for the first few months after resupply. If eggs are stored at optimum temperatures of about 4°C, they should keep for up to 8 months. The shells are oiled to prevent the air getting to them. They are turned weekly to stop the yolk coming in contact with the membrane/shell. If they remain in the one position for too long, the yolks break when you crack them open. We also send frozen egg pulp to the stations.
Once the fresh food is used up, expeditioners mostly eat food that has been frozen, canned or dried. This is supplemented with hydroponically grown salad vegetables. Food that is kept for a long time must be stored carefully, with the older stocks being used first. Each continental station has emergency food-containers which can be used if the main Green Store burns down.
Food plays a vital role in providing daily variety on station. Celebrations throughout the year also help mark the passage of time. The most important celebration is the Midwinter Dinner. It was celebrated for the first time during Scott’s 1901–1904 British Antarctic Expedition. Early explorers such as Mawson dined on simple fare, but today’s expeditioners enjoy sumptuous feasts.
To discourage pilfering of favourite supplies, some chefs have been known to hide delicacies, such as lobster for special occasions, in Brussels sprouts packets in the freezer!