Cirque du Soleil Kooza chef gives performers a 'taste of home'
Circus show Cirque du Soleil Kooza's kitchen has been enjoying a "feminine touch" ever since French-Canadian chef Julie Gauthier joined a year ago.
When The New Paper walked into the kitchen tent near the Big Top next to Marina Bay Sands, the 15 or so tables were adorned with fresh flowers in vases. Ms Gauthier, 28, Kooza's head chef, had sourced the blooms locally.
She seeks to give the about 150 performers and crew members from over 20 countries, who are currently in town for the show, "a taste of home" over meals six days a week.
With three assistant chefs and a kitchen crew of eight, Ms Gauthier whips up a minimum of five dishes a meal, including a vegetarian option.
She said: "It is a challenge, but it is a fun challenge. We do our research online, and sometimes the performers will request a hometown meal."
As part of the communal kitchen spirit, the performers share their recipes and even help out in the cooking process.
Four of the current kitchen staff also happen to be related to the performers or crew members and volunteered to travel.
Ms Gauthier, who received a diploma in French cuisine from culinary school Ecole Hoteliere des Laurentides in Quebec, Canada, five years ago, said: "I have a Korean chef, and one time, her mum came to Kooza while on vacation. She cooked lunch with us, and we made Korean dishes.
"(The performers) are really happy when they see food from back home. They celebrate it."
What: Cirque du Soleil Kooza
When: Now until Aug 27, various times
Where: Under the Big Top, Bayfront Avenue, next to Marina Bay Sands
Tickets: $88 to $318 from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or 6348-5555)
Ms Gauthier and her team usually spend four hours on meal preparation in the two sea containers that make up their well-equipped kitchen.
The produce needed is immense, with at least 25 watermelons - "fruits are really good and sweet here because of the weather" - ordered each week along with about 100kg of meat, 50kg of fish and 600 to 800 eggs.
Ms Gauthier said: "It is much more for the fruits and vegetables, with carrots (used for juice) taking up 50kg a week by itself."
Before Cirque du Soleil Kooza, she was touring with another production around Asia. It included stops in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Ms Gauthier, who feels that being a circus chef is "the perfect job", said: "I really like the lifestyle of going to different countries every few months. It is fun to explore new cultural markets and avenues everywhere in the world."