CHEF Adam Ward is turning up the heat on his career when he swaps the comfortable kitchens at Whirlow Hall Farm for an icy lodge halfway up Mount Everest.
Adam – assistant manager at Whirlow for the last two years – has signed up as head chef at Everest Base Camp after being head-hunted by Sheffield-based trekking specialists Jagged Globe.
He flies out next month to begin a three-month expedition.
That will mean cooking on rudimentary equipment and providing high-energy meals with only the most basic of ingredients, supplemented with the odd yak or goat.
It’s a daunting challenge for any chef but Adam knows exactly what he’s letting himself in for. In 2008 he spent four months in the Antarctic as base camp chef for expeditions to the South Pole.
He followed that by setting off on the trip of a lifetime with girlfriend Liz, climbing some of the most challenging peaks in South America.
But everything changed for the adventurous couple in August 2010 when daughter Cleo arrived.
“She was a surprise – and a blessing,” says Adam, who then settled back home in Walkley and took the job at Whirlow Hall Farm.
For the last couple of years he has enjoyed running the farm shop and the café, giving him time to spend at home with Liz and Cleo. But when the offer came from Jagged Globe, it was too much to resist.
“It will be the first time I’ve gone away since she was born, which is going to be difficult for us all. But we’ll be able to keep in touch via satellite phone.”
Adam’s role will be a key part of the Everest expedition, providing nourishing meals for the Jagged Globe expedition as the climbers acclimatise in preparation for an assault on the summit.
“There would normally be a Nepalese cook but they’re not known for their culinary skill! If you’re a westerner then it’s a real boon to have a western chef in the camp,” he says.
Food needs to be high protein and high carbohydrate, yet nutritionally balanced too.
The party will take out speciality ingredients including herbs, spices, oils, vinegar, nuts, seeds, coffee, brandy – and Henderson’s Relish.
In Antarctica, supplies were flown in by jet and stored in an ice cave but fresh food, particularly vegetables, is hard to come by on Everest.
“I’ll try to make it an interesting and varied diet. It will probably be mostly stews, but there’s no fish or beef, so we’ll be eating yak like the locals if we can’t access anything else.
I’ve never cooked yak before, so I’d better brush up on the recipes!”
Adam is due to return home in June, but if the trip proves a success he may sign up for future expeditions – cooking his way around the globe, from the Andes to the Antarctic.