A top chef has been appointed to bring fine dining into outer space for astronauts manning the International Space Station, reports The Sun.
German chef Harald Wohlfahrt, who holds three coveted Michelin stars for his Black Forest restaurant, has replaced the freeze-dried tubes of food with delicacies such as braised veal cheeks with wild mushrooms, white bean purees, Swabian potato soup and plum compote. Food is packed in tins, which are heated to 195C in ovens on board the ISS.
Astronauts aboard the ISS took delivery of his first culinary offerings, which, like their predecessors, still have a shelf life of two years. The chef, who has cooked for Bill Clinton, Angela Merkel and Sophia Loren, had to take into account many factors when drawing up menus for astronauts floating nearly 250 miles above the earth. Salt accelerates bone loss while extra Vitamin D is needed due to lack of sunlight. A human's sense of taste is altered in space too, so the food gets more pepper and other seasonings than it would in his kitchen on earth. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in space so he sends up iced tea and fruit juices.
Sauces — for which he is world famous — are strictly off the menu. "In a weightless environment there were too many risks of a spillage where the sauce could have got into the electrical equipment with disastrous consequences,” he explained. "We had to remove many obstacles. It was a real challenge but one I enjoyed because I tasted what they had to eat before and I felt sorry for the astronauts — their food tasted like it should be fed to a cat."
"We canvassed the astronauts and they said they missed 'rustic' cooking from home, so that is what I tried to give them," said the chef. "I am told good food motivates astronauts. I hope they enjoy it."