Sat Bains, the two-Michelin-starred chef-proprietor of Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, is attempting to set a new Guinness World Record for the highest formal dinner party at the North Col of Mount Everest in April.
The expedition, which will be led by former SAS captain and troop commander Neil Laughton, will see a team of British adventurers and climbers, including two Everest summiteers and a professional photographer, attempt to host a dinner at 7,100m (23,293ft) before attempting their summit bids.
Bains, who was invited to take part in the project last year, said that as soon as he heard about the expedition he “got goose bumps”.
“I know it sounds crazy, but I think as you get older you want to do new and exciting things. I am a bit nervous, but if we manage to do it, what a great achievement, to have a sit-down meal, three-quarters of the way up Mount Everest?” he told The Caterer. “It suits me, it suits my character.”
The team, from left: Andrew Elliman, John Askew, Deri Lewellyn-Davies, Dr Keith McDonald and Neil Laughton
The party of 10 plus Bains are expected to arrive at the Everest base camp (5,200m above sea level) on 16 April. They will acclimatise over the following 10 days before climbing to North Col on 26 April in preparation for hosting the “highest dinner party” the following day. He will return from Chengdu on 8 May.
The menu is likely to include a lightweight miso soup with fermentation and pickled ingredients which will be dehydrated, and Bains will use snow to rehydrate the product. The main course will be a beef stew with lots of aromatics and vegetables. He is working on the idea of a chocolate Twix-style biscuit for dessert with miso fudge and salt. He is hoping to have a tasting of the menu in March.
“I have kept it very light because you lose all your appetite at that level,” he said. “The boiling point will be at about 82°C, so beef stew is perfect for that.”
Laughton said the purpose of the “eccentric British expedition”, undertaken by a team of experienced mountaineers, was to highlight the needs of remote Sherpa communities in Nepal, raising urgently needed funds for clean water, sanitation and schooling projects. Money raised will go directly to the charity Community Action Nepal run by Doug Scott CBE and whose patron is Sir Chris Bonington.
Bains is currently undergoing 10 weeks’ solid training, which includes a number of challenging treks. “I’m going to Ben Nevis at the beginning of March and I’m doing loads of leg work. Between now and then, I will have a clean diet.”
The 1999 Roux Scholar and 2003 Menu of the Year Catey winner said he is hoping to have access to Nottingham Trent University’s environmental chamber at its School of Science and Technology to help him with his training.
“I would hate to get to Mount Everest and wish I’d trained harder for it – I want to do it and I want to do it well.”
* The official team charity for this expedition will be Community Action Nepal, however Bains will also be fundraising for Hospitality Action. The 2015 British expedition team is seeking three corporate sponsors. To discuss this sponsorship opportunity and other product endorsement sponsorship ideas with the team leader, contact Neil Laughton.
Chefs Behind the Chefs: Sat Bains and John Freeman >>