Chef to get creative in the cold

Swapping mess halls for a freezing sub-Antarctic research station, one Army chef will spend five months cooking for expeditioners on Macquarie Island, 1550km south-east of Hobart.

CAPTIONAustralian Army chef then Corporal Jack Bromhead will put his skills to work cooking for expeditioners on Macquarie Island for five months. Story by Sergeant Matthew Bickerton. Photo by Leading Seaman Kieran Dempsey.

Among an estimated 200 chef applicants, Sergeant Jack Bromhead, an instructor from the ADF School of Catering, was chosen with seven other chefs to assist on Antarctic operations.

He will be cooking for 25 to 30 expeditioners with different dietary requirements, indirectly supporting the science and research on the island.

“I’ve got to make the bread, and all the milk and yoghurt from powder. It will be a unique experience from simply having a supplier drop it all off a few times a week,” Sergeant Bromhead said.

The station has a one-year supply of food, with resupply occurring each April.

Frozen, tinned and dry foods make the bulk of ingredients, with options that rival a small grocery store.

The station can grow its own leafy greens using hydroponics.

“Your meal creativity is limited only by your imagination,” Sergeant Bromhead said.

The day begins with a continental breakfast, followed by sausage rolls, pastries and other snacks for smoko. Later, there’s a light lunch featuring fresh bread, cold meats, an assortment of fillings and soups.

Dinner, the main meal of the day, features two proteins and a variety of vegetables, with dessert occasionally on offer, served using a bain-marie service.

Sergeant Bromhead will be assisted daily by a different ‘slushie’, as everyone at the station takes turns pausing their primary duties to aid in the kitchen.

“They’ll do the general cleaning jobs, help keep the dining room in order, make sure the coffee is stocked and help me with meal prep,” he said.

With one-and-a-half days off weekly, Sergeant Bromhead is keen to explore the island and immerse himself in the local wildlife, including penguins, seals and seabirds.

Sergeant Bromhead attended three weeks of training, which he likened to military force prep.

While on course, he struck up a conversation with a seemingly ordinary bloke. To his surprise, this man turned out to be the chief scientist in charge of the million-year ice core project, one of the most ambitious scientific endeavours ever pursued in Antarctica.

Sergeant Bromhead was excited to meet similar people at the station.

After 12 years under the mentorship of Army non-commissioned and commissioned officers, Sergeant Bromhead hopes to learn from the doctors, tradies and scientists he’ll cook for.

Macquarie Island, where he’ll be working, is a World Heritage site recognised for its geological and natural wonders. It first housed a station in 1948.

This establishment served as a radio link between Australia and Antarctica and acted as a hub for scientific research, which continues today.

In December, Sergeant Bromhead will depart from Hobart on the French icebreaker L’Astrolabe.

He will take long-service leave from the Army and be employed by the Australian Antarctic Division during his time away.


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