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 first 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.
Christie Sutherland, former Topdeck Chef.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Christie studied psychology at university before travelling the world and doing a Topdeck trip as a passenger. For three years she worked as an on-road Chef with Topdeck. This year she’s working as a Crew Mentor, supporting the Crew on the road, sampling restaurants and visiting Topdeck’s suppliers.
We had a chat with Christie about her experience as a Topdeck Chef.
1. How did you first hear about Topdeck?
After finishing university in 2012, I took a year off to travel. After researching a few different companies to travel around Scandinavia with, I stumbled upon Topdeck. I was immediately captivated by the Red Star Special, a trip that goes to the very top of Norway, through Russia and the Baltics.
I loved how Topdeck was the only company I found that went to one of the most northern parts of Norway.
2. What made you want to become a Chef?
On the Topdeck trip I did in 2013, the Red Star Special, there was a Chef on the first 22 days of the trip. I was so impressed by the meals she managed to whip up in the cook tent and the trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
By the end of the trip, I started to think that maybe this is something I could do. I love food and I love to travel so it made perfect sense!
3. What’s the most rewarding part of being a Chef?
Seeing passengers as they try a new cuisine or dish for the first time. Whether it’s frog’s legs under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, cheese fondue in the middle of the Swiss Alps or gelato in Rome. It’s very rewarding hearing that they loved something they usually don’t like or are scared to try, e.g. snails!
Knowing that along with my fellow Crew we are helping to create memories that will last a lifetime is one of the most satisfying parts of the job. Talk about Road Crew Inspiration!
4. What’s your favourite cuisine?
This is a very difficult question! I don’t think I can ever get over Italian cuisine. I could eat pizza and pasta every day! What amazes me is how Italians can create such great flavours with just a few fresh ingredients.
Every region in Italy has its own specialty and there’s so much more than pizza and pasta. I’m also a big fan of all Asian cuisines especially Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese.
5. What’s your favourite meal to cook on the road?
On a camping trip, we are equipped with only a few gas burners, so it’s always something special to impress everyone by making a lasagne without an oven.
It isn’t an easy task and I like to slow cook my bolognese for a few hours. Served with tomato and basil bruschetta and tiramisu, it always goes down a treat. Road Crew Inspiration win!
6. What’s one thing you pack every time you head out on the road?
A camera! I have a DSLR camera that I often take with me and I enjoy experimenting with the different settings. However, most phones these days take great quality photos and are very easy to carry around.
I love looking back on the photos and videos I’ve taken and it’s a great way to bring back the memories from my travels.
7. What’s your go-to drink once you get an afternoon off in the sunshine?
Aperol Spritz: one of the most popular cocktails and apéritifs in Italy. It’s made with Aperol liqueur, prosecco, a dash of soda water and a slice of orange. So refreshing on a hot summer’s day in Italy.
8. What’s your number one piece of advice for new travellers?
Travel with an open mind. Be ready to step out of your comfort zone, try things and do things you wouldn’t at home. Embrace new cultures and learn something about every single place you visit.
Talk to locals and learn about their customs, food, work and lifestyles. You will get so much more out of your travel experience and a new perception of how the world works.
9. If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
One of the most versatile vegetables there is: potatoes! There’s so much you can do with a simple spud: wedges, fries, mash, pancakes, dumplings, gnocchi, rӧsti, hash browns, baked, boiled or roasted. The possibilities are endless.
10. What’s your favourite kind of pasta?
I’m yet to try a pasta I don’t like. However, one of my favourites is bigoli con vongole. Bigoli is a type of thick, hollow spaghetti that goes deliciously well with a simple seafood sauce of garlic, tomatoes and clams. Or anything with truffles.