And what do they do on their days off? Hang up their aprons and order pizza? Yeah… not likely. Any chef will tell you that passion for cooking isn’t something you just set aside like a hammer and nails. It’s part of you, burned into you over the years, until it’s like a tattoo or a computer chip in your neck. At least, that’s how Réne Linke, a caterer based in the Ruhr Area town of Velbert, feels. Cooking is in his blood, whether he’s at work or not.
For years now, Linke has been stilling his love of adventure through the Land Rover Experience Tour, which he’s taken part in nine times already. It’s brought him to every corner of the world, including Iceland, Namibia, Canada, Australia, and—most recently—Peru. We hardly have to ask what he was doing on those tours, of course. Even the hardiest adventurers have to eat sooner or later. And even in the most breathtakingly beautiful places on Earth, food can make all the difference in the success or failure of the trip.
As the Land Rover Experience Tour chef, he feeds around 40-50 people each day, including tour participants, staff, and media partners—and it’s all off-road. On last year’s trip, he covered more than 1,200 miles in a Land Rover Discovery over 14 days, and it was the very definition of “off-roading.” Jungle paths? Desert roads? Mountain passes at altitudes above 16,000 feet? Check, check, check.
Linke always arrives on location a week before everyone else, so that he’ll have plenty of time to stock up on supplies, convert the vehicle into a mobile kitchen, and scope out the scene. His standard equipment: coolers, a gas grill, an emergency generator, a SelfCookingCenter, and a camping pump (so that he can use the combi-steamer’s steaming function outdoors).
You might be surprised just how well participants eat during the trip: in Peru, Linke served tuna steaks, rice and potato dishes, ceviche, sirloins, asparagus, shrimp, and even fresh-baked chocolate cake, just to name a few. Not bad for a campfire cookout in the middle of nowhere…
Days on tour are long and stressful. At night, everyone camps out in swags, which are super-solid one-person tents with built-in mattresses. Linke’s always the first one up in the morning— his alarm goes off at 4 AM. Someone has to make breakfast, after all. Scrambled eggs, hard rolls, freshly baked croissants… no wonder the tour chef rarely gets more than four hours of sleep a night.
Linke plans his menus out in advance as much as possible, taking local conditions and cuisine into account, but something usually throws a wrench into their plans. A landslide blocking the road, for example, so everyone has to drive all the way back to the previous checkpoint… which means they have to set up their mobile kitchen at night using head lamps… and, oh, Réne, as long as we’re back here, how about we make a meal for the entire village, too? With nine tours under his belt, though, Linke’s used to improvising, and he’s good at finding workarounds. As he says, cooks who can’t find workarounds are sh**ty cooks.
Sandy, muddy, narrow, unfinished roads are some of the biggest challenges participants face on tour. They come with the off-roading territory, of course—slashing, schlepping, shoving, and shoveling pathways are all part of the program. Linke once spent ten hours with a co-worker on his shoulders, hacking palm leaves out of the way, so the group could continue driving through the Australian outback. Every day is different. Gas can be another challenge, especially when it comes to Land Rovers. Just like chefs, even the most motivated Land Rover can’t run on empty…
Fortunately, Land Rover tours aren’t focused on winning or getting places quickly. They’re about the journey as much as the destination. Besides off-road driving skills and the ability to use a GPS, participants need stamina and team spirit— Land Rover tours are about succeeding together.
The journey continues in 2019; This time, Land Rover’s headed to Kavango Zambezi National Park in Namibia, the world’s second-largest nature preserve.
Réne Linke will be there, too, of course, living his dreams of adventure and excitement once more… and then happily returning to the wife and daughter waiting for him back in Velbert. Believe it or not, at the end of the day, Linke says there’s no place like home.
Craving adventure? Look no further: Landrover-experience.de