Wanna come join the Topdeck Crew? From Trip Leaders to Chefs to Coach Drivers, Topdeck are now recruiting for awesome new Road Crew. Best job ever, right?! To get you inspired, we’ve got the fifth instalment of our new Road Crew Inspiration Blog Series where we’ll be answering that all important question: what’s it like to be a Topdeck Chef?
Each week, we’ll be interviewing a member of the Topdeck Crew and learning all about what they do, giving you some Road Crew Inspiration. Come have a read.
Liz Onley, Topdeck Chef.
Liz is from Melbourne, where she used to work on the legal side of accounting for two and a half years before deciding to move overseas. She visited Europe for her 21st birthday and during her month away she saw other travellers who were so flexible with their travel plans that she wanted to be able to do the same. Liz has volunteered as ground Crew for Pamplona and Oktoberfest festivals for Topdeck and has since then trained to be an on-road Chef. She’s now worked five seasons with Topdeck.
We had a chat with Liz about her experience as a Topdeck Chef.
1. How did you first hear about Topdeck?
My older sisters had done trips a few years before me, so Topdeck was my first choice to go with. When I was planning to move overseas I took a brochure from a travel agent and had all of the trips spread across my bedroom floor. I chose the European Getaway to get a taste of Europe before moving there.
2. What made you want to become a Chef?
It was more of a case of luck that I became a Topdeck Chef. After my trip as a passenger, I wanted to be part of the Crew as this seemed like such an amazing job. Topdeck needed ground Crew for festivals, so I applied and was so stoked to get the job.
From there, everything sort of fell into place. Helping out on one of the sites in Switzerland, I got the hunger to apply to the following year’s recruitment for on-road Crew.
3. What’s the most rewarding part of being a Chef?
How surprised the passengers are at the quality of food I prepare for them. Most of them don’t know what to expect when they come on the trip. So when they get two or even sometimes three course dinners, or a four salad picnic lunch accompanied by cheese, cakes and fruit, they are very happy indeed!
Hearing them talk to each other about the food or telling me how much they love it is very rewarding.
4. What’s your favourite city in the world for food?
There are a lot of cities in Spain that all have amazing food. The La Boqueria Market in Barcelona is awesome. Also, I had a Trip Leader from San Sebastián who took me to all the best pintxos places and showed me how to eat like a local. It was amazing!
Then, down in the south of Spain, one of my favourites places is Granada. You can order sangria and get free tapas; what more could you want.
5. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Europe?
Probably a Florentine steak in Florence at one of the restaurants we visit. It’s generally around 1kg (enough for two or three people). It’s only cooked for about five minutes on each side, so it’s quite rare in the middle.
I wasn’t always that keen on rare meat but having now had a proper Florentine steak, this is the only way I’ll eat them.
6. What’s your favourite local ingredient?
Hmm, can I say Italian cheeses?! When I cook in Rome and Venice, I always make risotto and gnocchi with some delicious Italian cheeses.
Taleggio and a lot of Parmesan make these two dishes an absolute treat.
7. What’s the best dish you’ve ever cooked on the road?
I love cooking Thai green curry. Not your typical dish in Europe. However, I usually whip this one out when the weather turns a bit cold (especially on a trip in Scandinavia). Everyone is really pleased to have a warm meal.
I also love making Mexican food because there’s so much variety and everyone always loves a Mexican fiesta!
8. What’s your number one piece of advice for new travellers?
Make sure you look up from your camera or Snapchat or Instagram stories. Always take a moment to take in your surroundings and be truly in that place. These are the moments you’ll remember.
9. What’s one thing you pack every time you head out on the road?
Berocca! A Berocca a day keeps me healthy so I don’t catch a cold on the road.
Being a Chef, I’m always awake earliest in the mornings. Plus, with occasional late nights when I’m being social with the group, I need to keep my energy going for the whole day.
10. What’s your best cheese joke?
I’m well known for my cheese jokes on my trips. There was one trip where every day I would tell a new cheese joke. Probably my favourite is when making tiramisu:
– How do you hide a horse?
– Mascarpone! (Read: mask-a-pony).
– What happened when the cheese factory exploded?
– There was de-brie everywhere!