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Without them, no expedition would survive that long in a desolate environment such as this Everest Base Camp (Tibet). They are responsible for dishing out the most mouth watering receipies in the harshest place on Earth.

Cooks that serve most mountaineering expeditions to the Himalaya (both Nepal and Tibet) are mostly Nepali. Very few expeditions use Chinese cooks (the reader is asked to figure out why). Most Western expeditions (this one is no exception) prefer to pay the CMA (Chinese Mountaineering Association) leevies to bring Nepali cooks across the border from Nepal into Tibet.

While most cooks are identical to those that work in Nepali restaurants and hotels, the “expedition cooks” must have the ability to work at high altitudes (4,000m and higher – this base camp is 5200m).

Expedition cooks work in conditions that might look appalling to most people – their tent (the kitchen tent) is dim, and the atmosphere is kerosene filled. They are all very hard working people too – a typical day schedule of an expedition cook looks something like this -

Wake up at 5:30 am
Boil water and clean up the pots and pans for the day
Start preparing breakfast at 7:30 am
Breakfast is served at 8:00 am
Clean up after breakfast
Start preparing lunch at 10:30 am
Lunch is served at 12:00 pm
Clean up after lunch
Prepare pop-corns and tea at 3 pm
Serve tea and pop-corn at 3:30 pm to 4 pm
Start preparing dinner at 4:30 pm
Dinner is served at 6:30 pm
Clean up after Dinner
The kitchen is closed at 9 pm
The cooks goes to Zzzzz ! after that.

Our cooks, Tara Bir Yakha and Pemba Tshiri Sherpa
However, the final results are often comparable to Kathmandu restaurant standards!! Excellent hygenic conditions are maintained in base camp kitchens – this author has yet to get a tummy upset after eating food prepared here for the past month or so.

Sometimes, their skills are simply unbelievable – they prepare and bake cakes without the use of an oven, they create receipies that are simply out of this world (for this environment). Perfectly roasted chicken drumsticks and excellent quality fried noddles are standard stuff here.

Yummmmie ….. my mouth is watering now :-) !!!

Ting Sern

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