A day in the life of an Everest BC Chef
Early rise at 6.30 a.m, I leave the cosy cocoon of my 5-season sleeping bag, quickly pull on all the warm clothes I can find, squeeze into my frozen shoes and leave my sturdy tent. Walk the few yards to the kitchen tent, break the ice sealing the water barrel and start boiling water. This water will be used for hot drinks, porridge, making bread and many other things. My friend Sukra brings me a cup of hot black tea and my day has begun.
Once the heat of the oven, the hob and the burner have started to take effect I take off a few of my layers. Breakfast will be at 8 a.m. so the tasks of proofing croissants, brewing fresh coffee and of course making the ubiquitous porridge that will give the team the energy they need to progress up the mountain. They arrive sporadically for breakfast depending on their own rhythms; some sleepily and some with bounding enthusiasm, the first few cups of coffee helps to level the playing field.
After the breakfast things have been cleared away and the climbing team have headed towards the icefall for their day of activities, my own preparations for lunch and dinner continue. David H admits to planning his expeditions around regular meal times so I will expect them back for lunch at 1p.m. The bread is already on its second proof so I start to prepare the soup. Keeping hydrated at altitude is essential so I will serve the group soup at least once every day, today it is a spicy chinese broth with ginger, garlic and fresh greens.
A selection of cured hams and salamis will accompany a coleslaw salad that will complete our lunch.
I take some time out to take some pictures of base camp life and of course the spectacular scenery that now seems familiar, but is constantly changing. My afternoon begins with a baking session, the uncertainties of the altitude, the temperature and the oven make this an experimental process. So far the scones and brownies have been the great successes and the apple pie and cinnamon rolls not so much. I am awaiting a re-supply of fresh imported meat from Kathmandu so tonight I will be serving a hearty stew of delicious local Yak meat (virtually indistinguishable from the finest Scottish Angus). Accompanying the stew will be fresh beans and mash potatoes upon request, I’m not surprised the locally-grown potatoes up here are rich, buttery and wonderful. After dinner we may have another film night – the decision of what to watch will involve an elaborate and vaguely democratic process. It doesn’t matter if I don’t like the choice I will happily return to my cocoon for hopefully a restful nights sleep, as I’ll be up at 6.30 again tomorrow.