Dining in Antarctica: How to run a kitchen in the most remote place on Earth

Dining on board Scenic Eclipse promises to be an exquisite, multicultural adventure, whatever destination you’re exploring. Our Scenic Eclipse chefs use only the freshest produce, crafting menus inspired by local themes and flavours.
But how do you keep that promise when you’re in the icy realms of Antarctica – a harsh and uninhabited environment with no shops, local produce markets or culinary ‘culture’ to inspire?

We caught up with Scenic Eclipse Director of Food and Beverage, Tom Götter, to discuss the challenges (and rewards!) of providing 6-star dining experiences across multiple venues in the most remote place on Earth.
What can guests expect from their dining experience in Antarctica?

Guests sailing on Scenic Eclipse can expect the same level of exceptional cuisine in Antarctica as they would anywhere else in the world. Many guests believe that by sailing to such remote locations, the quality of food is compromised, however we work hard to ensure our guests still receive the same culinary delights they would in any other part of the world.
How does running the multiple dining venues of Scenic Eclipse differ in Antarctica to other destinations?

It takes a lot of planning, organisation and creativity to run such a broad culinary offering in remote parts of the world. It can be a big challenge, but it is also very rewarding. Many times produce will arrive different to what was ordered and this forces us to put our thinking caps on and become even more creative in the kitchen – it can be unpredictable in the kitchen but that’s what makes it fun.
So how do you go about planning for a season in Antarctica? 

The Antarctica season is one of the most important for the culinary team and takes the most amount of planning over any other destination. When we’re sailing Antarctica, if we don’t have something, we are unable to get it. This is a very rewarding region to sail as a chef as we come up with creative ways of using what we do have – this can involve preparing vegetables in many different ways, such as pickling or dehydrating, or even making our own yoghurt and cream cheese on board. All of these challenges are what makes us better chefs at the end of the day. As a team we work hard together on the culinary experience for our guests.
How do you choose your menus for the Antarctica season?

The menus chosen for Antarctic sailings are very specific. The goal of these is to create a menu by factoring in how long each individual produce item will last, while providing our guests with an exceptional culinary experience. On these longer itineraries, we try to use the fruits and vegetables that we know we can’t keep for too long first – for example leek remains fresh much longer than a bell pepper or a strawberry. There is a lot of focus and extra work involved in curating these menus. We can’t simply disembark at a port to buy more produce like we would do if we were sailing a region such as the Mediterranean.
What are the biggest challenges of cooking and running the dining venues in Antarctica? How do you overcome them?

Our biggest challenge is ensuring that all of our produce remains fresh – we spend at least an hour each day monitoring our fridges to guarantee they remain at the perfect temperature to keep our produce in excellent condition. This also involves laying out our refrigeration in a way that works best for our produce, by keeping fruits and vegetables in ideal locations dependent on whether they prefer a slightly cooler temperature or higher humidity. Almost every recipe on board is calculated to the gram to allow our chefs to place orders as accurately as possible, in order to reduce our food wastage and guarantee we have just the right amount of everything to feed our guests.
Can a destination like Antarctica still inspire your dishes and menus like other destinations do?

For me, Antarctica has been the most inspiring destination of all over my years on board cruise ships. Other destinations make things too easy as you can find everything everywhere. With Antarctica, you have to get creative in the kitchen and think outside the box to create remarkable dishes. It can be hard to create these dishes in remote places, but I truly believe that the lessons learned are invaluable and extremely rewarding.
Do you have an example of an ‘Antarctica-inspired’ dish?

A dish ‘born’ in the Antarctic region is the ‘Purple Rain’, served in Scenic Eclipse’s Chef's Table. It involves a piece of salmon being curated and marinated in red cabbage juice for 24 hours. Afterwards it is slowly torched and served with pickled blueberries, red cabbage salad, raw red cabbage gel and red cabbage dust. Our guests are often very surprised by this dish – red cabbage is such an underrated vegetable, but one which has really flexible flavours. By using different preparation techniques we’re able to make the most of the flavours.
Visiting Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many. To what extent can you still enjoy and appreciate a destination such as Antarctica when you’re so busy doing your job?

We are so lucky to be able to enjoy this beautiful region while working. I think every crew member would agree with me that it's probably one of the toughest areas to work in, but also by far one of the most incredible ones. The scenery never gets old, and no matter how many times you sail the region you always see something new. We make the most of our spare time to enjoy the views that we are so privileged to get to enjoy – views that not everyone will get to see in their lifetime. It is just stunning – the landscapes, the animals and the colours are unlike anything I’ve ever seen and it's something so hard to put into words. It has to be seen with your own eyes!
Away from cooking, what was your personal highlight of Scenic Eclipse’s debut Antarctica season?

I am so impressed with the ship itself. She remains calm even in the strongest of winds and waves. My favourite part about sailing with Scenic Eclipse is its ability to dock straight onto the ice, allowing our guests and crew to walk onto the ice in the middle of the Antarctic ocean. For me that is one of the highlights of my career on the ocean and something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Your Culinary Journey of Discovery with Scenic Eclipse

The dining experience is an important part of your journey with Scenic Eclipse. Boasting a choice of 10 dining experiences, your time on board the World’s First Discovery Yacht™ will promise to be a sensory delight. From casual dining venues to exceptional fine dining, each culinary menu is handcrafted to offer something new and unique.

Learn more about our collection of ocean cruises on board Scenic Eclipse. Call us on 1 866 689 8611 for more information or to secure your suite on board.