Cooking in the field: The easy way or the delicious way.

Field Food

When it comes to refuelling the tank after a hard day’s trek, there are two types of field hut diner. Those satisfied by hastily stuffing down pre-packaged cryo-vac food - usually leftovers from a weeknight meal cooked by the station chef - and those who aren’t. This latter breed is compelled to utilise each hut’s meagre cooking facilities to their utmost, in a quest for gastronomic decadence.

Success at this game requires robust organisation skills and a strong rapport with the chef, who manages the weekly transit of food from bulk-store freezers, to the kitchen. Last minute requests - forget about it. Notoriously bad slushy playlist - you’re dreaming! The chef has the power!

Of the 18 first-time winterers at Davis this year, I’ve observed none more devoted to their dining experience than electrician Pete Boyle, who holds the current station world record of over 5 minutes spent selecting dinner portions at the bain-marie. Who better to pass the golden stainless steel whisk of hut epicureanism to?

So, it came to pass on the last trip to Bandits hut prior to the sea ice closing. I found myself adopting an unfamiliar stance at the communal table, inhaling deep draughts of mouth-watering air, thickly seasoned with steak smoke, Pete at the helm. He’d done it - a few sage tips (pat them dry before searing) - and the perfect medium-rare banquet appeared. The apprentice had become the master.

Pat James, retired hut chef