McMurdo Station is a major research facility all the way down at the bottom of the world. Hundreds of scientists work there during the summer (which is of course winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), and a smaller group of staff stays on through the winter. It's a fairly large operation, and full-time chefs are in demand. (I've always had a secret yen to go for a season — just for the life experience!) Here's the job ad. Requirement of note: "Ability to live in extreme winter weather conditions".
• See the job ad: Executive Chef--Antarctica (Centennial & Antarctica) at Denver Craigslist
I actually have secondhand knowledge of McMurdo and of the food there, since my husband works in a field with people who have spent time at McMurdo. We've had dinner party conversations with friends who know its quirks and oddball culture well. I've learned that food there is a fairly utilitarian proposition: Crew working outdoors in Antarctica's punishing conditions need to consume over 6000 calories a day. So the cooking there is really all about the efficient delivery of as many calories as possible. The food, as you might imagine, is not generally known for its tastiness.
And yet food is one of the few avenues of interest and entertainment at McMurdo, especially in the very dark winter months. And not just eating it — some crew members made a station event of Jell-O wrestling for a short time — until they were found out and stopped by the bureaucratic government contractor that runs the place.
The transcript of the meeting, with a hapless bureaucrat trying to explain with dignity just exactly why Jell-O wrestling is against station rules is priceless.
• Read the transcript: The Great McMurdo Jello-Wrestling All-Hands Meeting at Frontier Watch
(Image: Byrd Polar Research Center)