I am starting a new segment here on Miss Chardy… all about cooking for a crowd. It will be a regular Friday post. I would love your input. If you have any suggestions, hints and tips, please share them in the comments section here or over on Facebook. I would love to hear from you if you are a station cook, if you employ a station cook or if you are hoping to be a cook. No question is too silly. (Stick with me until the end and you will find the recipe of the week at the bottom of this post).
Ok, lets do this…
Most large cattle stations employ a Station Cook. Have you ever wanted an outback adventure but wondered if you could actually do it? Stick with me and I will have you sorted out in no time. We will decide if you are up to it or not.
Firstly, do you love to cook? Can you actually cook? Could you live remotely? Could you live without mobile phone service? If you answered no to all of these questions then I suggest you find a new calling in life because, quite frankly, cooking is probably not for you. You need a passion for food and serving others. If you don’t have this passion it is going to be a long, lonely, thankless haul for you.
Right, now that we have that sorted we can move on. So you love cooking? Good. That is really all you need, we can work on everything else. Actually you have to love people as well, I don’t think we can work on that… you either do or you don’t. You are going to have to be happy and kind not to mention welcoming, if you can’t do that, then again, perhaps this isn’t the career path for you.
We are not looking for world renowned chefs, we don’t want fancy five star meals served. What we are looking for is good hearty, old fashioned meals.
You know what I mean… steak & veg, rissoles (rissoles Darl, everyone knows rissoles), roast dinners, spag bol, crumbed steak (always a winner), a good casserole, corned beef and white sauce.
Crumbed Steak: A favourite
You will need to cook breakfast (with a smile on your face and let me tell you this isn’t always easy at 4:30am). There will need to be a selection of smokos baked ready to be packed if they are working away from the station, such as cakes, slice and biscuits.
If they are in at the station you will be expected to cook morning smoko and lunch.
Every station is different but you will also be expected to trot out dessert. That may be required every night or perhaps only a few nights a week, it really does depend on your crew, they may or may not be big dessert eaters.
The kitchen is the hub of most stations, if all is well in the kitchen then you will usually find a happy camp. So that means if you are going to be a cook you need to be happy and welcoming (did I mention that already??!!!). If you are having a bad day, which we all do, then fake it till you make it my friend. Put a smile on your dial, suck it up and get on with things.
If you love what you are doing then we will taste that love in your food. If you don’t, the only flavour that will come through is hate. Hate doesn’t taste very nice at all.
The role of Station Cook is probably 50% cooking and 50% cleaning. Cleaning is a MAJOR component of this position. The kitchen should be kept spotless at all times. This includes the cold rooms, fridges, freezers, shelves, cupboards, ovens, sinks, bain marie (if you are lucky enough to have one), floors, tables, pots, pans and appliances. It can be hard work, but it has to be done…
Everything must be cleaned on a regular basis. Nobody wants to eat in a dirty kitchen. Oh and the washing up is next level… you will feel like you spend most of your time at that sink some days. I suggest washing up each thing as you go, no one wants to face a huge pile of dirty dishes in one go.
If you don’t like cleaning, again, this position is not for you. Cleaning and cooking is what you will be doing, day in, day out.
Now lets talk hours and big days. You will be expected to work… hard! So if you are afraid of work then hopefully you will have run a mile by now. The days will be long. Breakfast may be at 6am, but then again if they are working away from the station you may be expected to serve a 4:30am breakfast, which means you might need to be up and at it by 3:30-4am. Because the days are long you need to be organised so you are able to have a decent break in the middle of the day otherwise you will be run ragged by the time you turn the lights off which may not be until 8pm.
So there you have it my friends. What do you think? Are you cut out for station cooking? Think you might like to give it a go? Lets just make sure. Here is the check list:
- You love love love cooking
- You love love love cleaning
- You are a happy person who gets along with others
- You cook with love
- Your not afraid of hard work
- You can get out of bed at 4am
- You could live at bum truck nowhere and possibly without mobile service
- Young people don’t annoy you… there will be 18 year olds and yes, there may be swearing, but hopefully not in the kitchen.
There are so many different ways you can get a job and I am just going to link to a few that I can think of from the top of my head if you think this might be your calling in life…
Facebook: Rural & Remote Cooks
The North Australian Pastoral Company
MDH Pty Ltd
Australian Agricultural Company
Paraway Pastoral Company
Heytesbury Pastoral Company
Consolidated Pastoral Company
Stanbroke Pastoral Company
Please help… I would love your input, please leave your suggestions in the comments section below or over on Facebook.
What do you look for in a station cook? What is expected of your cook? Do you agree that the position is half and half cooking/cleaning? How many people does your cook feed? What are their hours? What information have I missed in this post?
Perhaps you are the Station Cook. What have I forgotten to tell the good people about this position.
I would love to hear your suggestions. Thanks in advance!
Recipe of the Week