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Antarctica on a Plate

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Imagine you are a young woman with a stellar career but an increasing dissatisfaction with life. Imagine that your idea of a remote location is the distance between a taxi rank and a shoe shop. How do you shrug off your growing ennui? Simple. You apply for the position of cook in the coldest place on earth: Antarctica.
Paperback, 385 pages
Published 2003 by Random House Australia
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3.33  · 
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 ·  186 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you’re looking for a memoir about exploring, ice and braving the extremities of Antarctica, then Alexa Thomson’s Antarctica on a Plate is not for you. Yes, there’s ice but the focus is on the challenge of cooking large quantities of food on a small stove, and the fact that in Antarctica you never run out of freezer space.

Thomson, completely ‘under-experienced’ as a cook in extreme conditions, scores a job at Blue 1, a seasonal Antarctic base that’s used as a stopover point for research expedi
Oct 02, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I tried and tried with this one, but just couldn’t get into it.
Richard Jeong
Having been to Antarctica myself, albeit via NZ to McMurdo rather then via Chile or South Africa and working for a US Government contractor rather then a for-profit, I find this book odd. Part of it is because she's explaining an entirely foreign experience to me. ANI (now ALE) is generally hard to fathom for United States Antarctic Program regulars at McMurdo, South Pole, Scott Base, and elsewhere. The happenings of ANI/ALE is pretty much out of the realm of what we even consider on a day to da ...more
May 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
The storyline of this book was pretty interesting. It's not every day a civilian gets to go live and work in Antarctica, so it was really cool seeing the environment and living conditions through her eyes. However, I just found the main character so annoying and moody that it sort of ruined the whole experience. I found myself feeling terribly sorry for the poor folks trapped on Antarctica with her and wondering what they would have to say about her pithy observations. At the end of the book Tho ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, 2012-read
Suffering from something like an early mid-life crisis, Alexa Thomson makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to apply for a job as a cook at an Antarctic base camp for a summer season. Having no previous polar experience, and having worked in mass-catering for a few years, she is unprepared and understandably anxious when she finally lands the job and preparations begin for her journey to the south.

The first real problem for me with this book was the lead up to reaching Antarctica - sure, it was in
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: antartica
Interesting that I liked this book a lot more than most Goodreads reviewers. Having been to Antarctica in the usual manner (as a tourist on a small cruise ship) it was interesting to read the experience of a woman who - with little preparation - signs up as a cook at a commercial venture in Antarctica. (I had no idea there were any programs other than scientific ones with permanent bases sponsored by countries that are part of the Antarctica Treaty. As a matter of fact, this temporary base may n ...more
Janyce Murray
This is the true story of a girl who, disenchanted with her life as a web designer for an investment bank in Sydney, talks her way into a job as a cook for a season at an Antarctic base camp. It's a job that she is admittedly unqualified for, but she spends much of the book complaining about the cold and the cooking she has to do. During the weeks when there are only a few people living at the camp, she goes on about how their habits annoy her and how the constant closeness causes them to get on ...more
I've been looking all over for anything I can find related to Antarctica and this is one of the books that came up. It first interested me as it seemed like something I could relate to, a lot of the other stories about people spending time in Antarctica are historical accounts and they seem a bit dry.

I enjoyed this story, it was fun to read about Alexa's time in Antarctica, a true honest account. I learnt more about the weather and what to expect from a place as remote as this which was very in
Clare Smith
My two stars are mainly for the information about her experience that was shared. I enjoy reading about the planning, preparations and sensations of travelling in a freight plane for example. However if it was not for that sheer novelty of the Antarctic experience I would have struggled to rate this with a one star. Like others I for the life of me could not relate to the author. I know from emailing regular logs home when on my own adventures, the negatives somehow dominate the narrative. To th ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexa Thompson blagged her way to a job as cook on a commercial unit in Antarctica. Tired of her life in Sydney and with some expirence as a summer camp cook a few years earlier, she has no real idea of what she is undertaking. She certainly hadn't bargained on living in a tent! This is the story of Alexa's 3 months in Antarctica, cooking for both small and large groups of people, the challenges of cooking in such conditions, and living with expirenced polar adventurers. At the beginning Alexa s ...more
Holly Booms Walsh
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travel memoirs fans, those interested in Arctic or Antartic travel
The book is the true story of a woman that takes a job as a cook for an Antarctic mission. She is unprepared for what she is about to experience, which makes her narration all the more exciting to the reader, as we (most of us anyway) are also unprepared for the travails and dangers of such travel. I felt her fear and wonder for the alien and dangerous world as she tells her story. The book is read in a heavy Australian accent and was a bit hard to follow at first, but I got used to it very quic ...more
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
"Imagine you are a young woman with a stellar career but an increasing dissatidfaction with life. How do you shrug off your growing ennui? Simple. You apply for the position of cook in the coldest place on earth: Antartica."

This is a fun read. I thought she had a major overreaction to Ewan's kiss & the lady doth protest.. & all that, but I bet being isolated & cooped up with the same people for so long could lead to the odd irrational outburst. I wonder how they'd handle a winterover
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cask-wine
Talking book ISBN 9781740938464 read by Caroline Lee. First CD finished, a bit whiney so far. One of those books as though the author first decided to write a book then looked for something to write about.
Ok finished it. It seemed to be a bit of a roller coaster ride going from interesting to almost girlie. Maybe it would best be described as a light introduction to the Antarctic for readers of the womens weekly. I would have liked more information on why people are there in the first place and
Gretchen Keelty
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my most favourite books EVER. Honest well paced adventure about a young woman who chucks it all in to go and cook in a tent on an ice airfield in extreme conditions at the end of the Earth- literally. The daily challenges and the big questions include are all addresses with integrity and a sense of humour. My entire family, their friends and friends' families all borrowed, read and loved this book. Hard not to admire her and impossible not to laugh out loud. Read it.
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite half-way done with this book, and I don't know if I'll finish it. It has not been as compelling as other either cooking books or adventure books - it's kind of missing the mark both ways. We'll see how it turns out, maybe.

5/28 - well, I've abandoned this book. It's too bad there's no "didn't finish" shelf, I'll file this as "read" although I'll feel guilty since it's really only "half-read." Waste of an Audible credit and my time. Bummer.
Dec 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
This is the story of an Australian executive type who takes a job as a cook at a camp in Antarctica. I liked the story more than I should have considering that not much happens. At the end however, she starts shacking up with a married guy. That was a bit of a downer for me as I usually like to keep the married people out of the shacking up.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of life on the continent with close to no creature comforts, as well as the author's interactions with people from other countries/outposts. However, the relationship development for me arose abruptly and there was little to no explanation of the fallout as a result. However, overall I was fascinated by the life of a "working person" in this environment and not just a scientist or adventurer.
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite liked this book. Although Alexa didn't have the experience I wondered if she was the only applicant for the job. It was interesting to read about a way of life that most people wouldn't experience. I thought it got a bit boring in the middle, too much detail, & some photos would have been good but I suppose it keeps publishing costs down.
Mar 20, 2016 marked it as abandoned
I abandoned this at about 30%. I was listening to the audiobook of it and I'm not sure if it was the narrator who caused me to do this, or whether it was the book itself. Either way, I was just not excited to listen to it any further. I would probably try the printed version of this as a comparison.
Rusty Tobin
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely balanced book about living conditions, the landscape of Antartica and portraits of people who live and work there. Although I do not usually like first person - this is what I am feeling - books, the author's experiences are very interesting and told with a sense of humor.
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I agree with many others here. A very whiny tone and not much sympathy for the author. I still don't understand why she wanted to go there frankly. She doesn't really think very broadly about the experience.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This is my favourite autobiography. I love that she is not famous.. Just an average Aussie who had a grand adventure
May 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light, easy and enjoyable read.
Max Wilson
Good read; part biography, part history of Antarctic exploration, part cool cook story. It runs out of steam at the end, unfortunately, and devolves into a sentimental rant.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read. Gave me a good glimpse into being in Antarctica.
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love it, I want to do this... live a surreal life for 3 months as a cook while camping on this wild arctic continent
Gary Gray
Read this because a friend of mine has spent 7 or 8 season on the ice and just thought it sounded like a good bio. If you've ever wondered what it's like down there this is a good book to read.
Jun 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I registered a book at!
Other than a choice she made, I enjoyed the book tremendously.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Annoying narrator - if you can't do accents don't try! Other than that it sounded like a first attempt at writing something and definitely like the thesaurus had been pressed heavily into use.
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