A day in the life of a … Big Camp chef

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Name: Josh Radford
Job: Sous chef at Avondale College + owner of Big J’s Catering
Where: Avondale College, Cooranbong, NSW

What’s your job?

Boss of the big camp kitchen, slave driver, task master, belly filler, chef extraordinaire (my wife told me to say that!) and gluten steak king!

I’ve done catering at Northern Australia, North NSW and South Queensland Big Camps and also for the Grey Nomads camp at Stuarts Point, NSW.

What’s a typical day for you?

Wake up at 6am.

Organise staff and prepare breakfast for the delegates.

Pack up breakfast and clean up.

Organise staff and start lunch prep.

Serve lunch to camp public and delegates in the dining room, all the while thinking about what to make for the next meal.

Clean up after lunch and prepare dinner for an unknown number.

Clean up after dinner—last night I was up until 12:30am making gluten steaks!

Three or four nights during big camp, I organise and cater for functions for the different tents. Tonight is pizza night at the Primary tent; we’re making 35 pizzas. So it’s Italian for dinner in the camp kitchen! Yum!

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

It’s hard to please everybody all the time.

Best part of your job?

This week I get to work with my wife; and trying to make the people of the Northern Australia Conference big camp happy.

Any challenges being a big camp chef?

Trying to cater for people with (food) intolerances and trying to get enough sleep!

Favourite foods?

Mum’s chips, chops and eggs, and dagwood dogs—veggie of course! Haha.

Josh and wife Melissa ready for Mexican Madness night at Brisbane big camp.

What is your signature dish[es]?

Gluten steaks and mock fish.

What’s the secret to the perfect gluten steaks?

French onion soup mix—and I can’t tell you any more, otherwise I’ll have to charge you! Haha.

If you had three ingredients only, what would you make?

Scones! Flour, cream and lemonade. 3 cups of flour, 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of lemonade.

How did you get into cooking?

My mum is a fantastic cook and I always wanted to cook like her. And my gran! She knew how to cook a mean fritter!

What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a chef?

Don’t be a chef . . . hahaha!

Work hard, be dedicated, listen to your boss and turn up to your shift on time.

Have a good attitude and always laugh in the kitchen! Know that sometimes you can’t control the situation. Be patient. Be passionate about what you do.

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