From Abingdon to Antarctica

From Abingdon to Antarctica

2 October 2016

When your childhood dream is of being a polar explorer and you’ve been inspired by stories of Shackleton and Scott, it wouldn’t come as a great surprise to anyone if it remained just a dream. But for Olivier Hubert, Executive Chef at St Helen and St Katharine in Abingdon, that ambition is about to become a ‘chilling’ reality. Next month Olivier embarks on a six month expedition to join the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), as part of their catering team at the Halley VI Research Station.

“It was only at my first induction training at BAS HQ in Cambridge last week that it really hit home,” says Olivier. “In a few weeks I will fly to Cape Town, and from there to Antarctica, coming into Halley via the Russian and German bases. Setting foot on the continent I have always dreamed of visiting, will be an emotional experience I’m sure, but getting to grips with the realities of everyday cooking challenges such as melting water from the surrounding snow and waiting for fresh food deliveries, will bring me down to earth. But my passion is for cooking the very best food possible, so whether it is for 700 girls at our school in Abingdon or a great collaborative team of 100 scientists, specialists and support staff in Antarctica, I will do my very best.” 

Inspired by the scientific work of the BAS and with the blessing of his family and the school, Olivier applied for the position in January and was selected from over 100 shortlisted applicants to support Halley as it is moved to its new site in the coming months.

Halley VI and Rothera are the two research stations on the continent of Antarctica (with a further three, Signy, King Edward Point and Bird Island – both South Georgia – in the sub-Antarctic). Perched on the Brunt Ice Shelf, Halley VI is the world’s first re-locatable research facility. Made up of a series of eight interlinked pods built on skis, if there are any shifts in the ice, it can be towed into a new position by specialist heavy vehicles.

“We are extremely proud of Olivier and so excited,” enthuses Head, Rebecca Dougall. “His pursuit of a dream, going so far out of his comfort zone and challenging himself in such extreme conditions is a wonderful example of the kind of attitude that we instil in our students here at school. We are hugely looking forward to sharing his polar culinary adventures with live phone links, social media posts and insights into the globally important environmental research that BAS undertakes.”

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