Cold cuisine in Concordia

Luca. Credits: IPEV/PNRA/ESA-B. Healey

Luca. Credits: IPEV/PNRA/ESA-B. Healey

I am Luca Ficara, (29) from Sicily and am currently working as the chef in Concordia Station, Antarctica. I am passionate about travelling, have enjoyed working in many different countries including UK, Spain and Australia. I have been attracted to Antarctica for its challenge and to broaden my life experiences.

In addition to preparing and cooking meals for the 13 people here I also am responsible for coordinating the ordering and storage of food. All ingredients that I present on our plates have travelled first to the coast by ship on a 7-20 day voyage from Australia and then transported a further 1300 km either by Twin-Otter plane or, more commonly, by the overland traverse.

When it arrives in Concordia it is either stored outside in shipping containers at ambient Antarctic temperatures (–55 °C today…) or in large fridges and storage rooms we have within the base.

Credits: IPEV/PNRA-L. Moggio

Credits: IPEV/PNRA-L. Moggio

The mealtimes are an integral part of the community life for the crew here on the base. It offers a chance for sharing stories and a time to relax. The quality of the food is extremely important for morale which puts the pressure on me to make sure it is to everyone’s taste! This can be a challenge when accommodating an international crew and working with the limited supplies here that are mainly frozen and no fresh ingredients.

I use my experience of working in different countries to accommodate the cultural preferences of the four nationalities living here, namely French, Italian, British and Swiss. I try to make everyone feel at home and enjoy sharing my skills by encouraging and assisting the crew to prepare specialties from their region.

Preparing the dishes. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA-B. Healey

Preparing the dishes. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA-B. Healey

I always make an effort to make an occasion of Saturday evenings and special events. The Lonely Planet mentions that Concordia is renowned for its good food so we have a reputation to maintain! For our first meal for the winter I prepared a cake which was a replica of the station and prepared a high-end meal you could find in a Michelin-star restaurant consisting of prawns with saffron and mayonnaise with grain mustard and honey. At Christmas and New Year’s we enjoyed a five-course meal with lobster, escargots and fois gras…

I look forward to the months ahead and hope to keep you updated on our progress here.

Luca Ficara

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Winter is coming…