Lesley Eccles — Chef and Deputy Station Leader
What did you do before this?
I started out as an apprentice chef with the Royal NZ Air Force but that was a long time ago. My career as a chef has taken me down many paths — I’ve spent many years working for international hotel chains as a head chef, owned my own restaurant in Brisbane for seven years and have also worked as a commercial cook trainer and assessor.
It’s something I have always wanted to do from a very young age. As a child I loved seeing photos and documentaries on Antarctica — the icebergs and penguins. It’s a place very few people get to experience and this is probably why I have always been attracted to Antarctica. I had the opportunity years ago to winter however circumstances beyond my control didn’t allow it to eventuate, but that is now history and a dream has come true.
As most documentaries only show the scenery and wildlife I hadn’t really thought about the small isolated community and how individuals from varying backgrounds work and live together. When you work here you soon come to realise most of what you experience is either with the community or about the community, certainly a positive experience for us all.
Previous Antarctic experience?
This is my first winter however I’ve worked two summers prior to my current deployment. Casey summer 2011/12 and Davis 2012/13.
How do you spend your time down here?
Many hours in the gym, studying (Diploma of Business), and emailing/phoning family and friends.
What do you miss the most?
Definitely my husband who works and moves around a lot with the UN and my mum in Brisbane, family, and friends. Also fresh fruit and vegetables, to be waited on in a nice restaurant, birds chirping and odours. What I don’t miss is the hustle and bustle of city life and traffic.
Best thing about being here?
The outdoors. I love field travel training and taking a ride through iceberg alley on the quads, walking to Watts and Brookes huts, getting out and about. During summer I loved walking to Gardner Island to see the Adelie chicks running around, that is definitely one of the highlights of being here.
I love the silence too. As they say “The sound of silence is deafening”.
What does Midwinters mean to you as the station chef?
It’s the biggest day on the Antarctic calendar, even more so for the station chef. On an average day I cater for 20 personnel and I do my best each day to provide a variety of interesting meals. However, for midwinters I will be creating gastronomic delights!