You don't have to delve too long into a bush kitchen to find out that if the station cook is happy, the whole working crew are happy.
That is the mantra for experienced station cook Raqual Humphries, who with more than 25 years cooking experience, has just finished the year at the Australian Country Choice property, Redford Station, near Mungallala.
When Queensland Country Life caught up with Raq, she told us the kitchen is the heart and soul of the station.
"If the cook is grumpy and unhappy, if filters through, and I am a great believer of happy cook, happy crew," she said.
Raq has spent time cooking on some big name stations including Carlton Hills and Moola Bulla in the Kimberley, Donor's Hill and Islay Palins, and learned by trial and error.
At the age of 30 she spent time in Broome, where she gained her chef qualifications as a mature aged adult.
"As I only had the basic skills, this pushed me into learning more about nutrition, as well as food intolerance, which both are important these days," Raq said.
Raq said to keep her crew happy, once the menu for the day is sorted she puts a chat out on the staff messenger group, to let them know what they can look forward to for dinner.
"I only plan ahead a couple of days with a basic menu plan," she said.
"You really can't please everyone, so if they are not happy we can organise a sandwich or something else."
Her day starts an hour before the station gets going.
"If the crew needs breakfast at 4.30am to go mustering, then I am up at 4am, if they aren't starting until 7.30am because they are fencing, I have a later start too," she said.
"The hours can be random and you do need to be flexible in this job.
"If the crew are taking a packed lunch, I have the wraps and sandwiches ready for them to make in the staff refrigerators.
Raq said when the crew are away for the day, that is when she gets all her baking done.
"I will spend the morning baking cakes, biscuits and slices," she said.
"There is also plenty of savoury items for smokos and lunch."
She said it can be a lonely life being a station cook, and she always welcomes a chat with the crew.
"A lot of the staff are much younger and many are on their gap year, so they do look to the cook as a mother figure, and pop in, ahead of dinner for a chat."
She said the station favourites are spaghetti Bolognese, lasagne, and crumbed steak.
"Lemon cheesecake is a winner too, the more lemon the better."
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