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Fine dining on ice…

No idea is too big, too extravagant or too wild for the lady who remains as cool as a cucumber in the face of seemingly impossible requests, and jumps at the opportunity to take luxury event planning to the next level – or the seventh continent, Antarctica.

Imagine going to a fashion show where the models ‘walk’ on a vertical red carpet going eighty metres up a high-rise building … or enjoying a snow production in the middle of a South African summer. Well, EmilyEmily t has done them both. Remember Wickedly Odd at The Durban Botanical Gardens? She did that too.

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A qualified reflexologist, Emily discovered her love for luxe event hosting while working aboard a private yacht in the Caribbean. When she felt the call to come back home to South Africa, she stepped into the world of wild and wonderful events and later started her company, Emily Lockhart Wedding and Event Coordination in 2009. Emily gathers her inspiration in the quiet surroundings of her family’s farm in Underberg, but you will often find her waving her magic wand at elaborate private functions or whimsical weddings on the North Coast. Her latest extravagant adventure took her to the land of ice, Emperor penguins and the South Pole …Antarctica. We caught up with her to find out what her three-month stint on ice was like.

Most people would never think of going to Antarctica, especially not to host events! What inspired the idea to go there? Kath Stone from To Your Taste asked me to join her. Kath heads up the catering for White Desert (a luxury eco camp where a week’s stay costs around 80 000 US Dollars per person). Kath is based in Cape Town during the Antarctic season and manages all the food logistics, flying fresh produce to Antarctica every 10 days with each client trip. A massive logistical undertaking! She and I have worked on many weddings in KZN, along with Wickedly Odd. She asked if I would be keen to help her manage hospitality and work alongside the chef on ice for a season. (The camp operates during the summer from November to February averaging a balmy -5 degrees celsius and boasts 24 hours of sunlight). Of course, I said yes!

How do you even get to Antarctica?
You fly from Cape Town to Antarctica’s Wolf’s Fang runway on a luxury, Gulfstream jet. After the five-hour flight, an arctic truck transports you from the ice runway to Whichaway Camp, which is made up of a number of high-tech igloos. (From the camp, guests go on a two-hour flight on a Basler Bt-67 that takes them to the home of more than 6000 penguins.)

How many layers of clothing did you have to wear?
So many! It starts with thermal gear, wool jersey second layer, First Ascent jacket third layer, and an extra thick feather jacket as fourth layer, if we went outdoors. If it was windy outside, a fifth windbreaker layer was necessary.

What was the most amazing part of being there?
Walking over ancient frozen ice waves off the edge of the continent. Our camp was based three kilometers from the edge of the continent. You can hike over a rocky outcrop to get to the waves. The frozen waves go for about 100 kilometers before reaching the ocean. In the summer month of December, the waves start to melt and form electric blue rivers which we got to explore with the French mountain guides. The most energising experience to date! The simple existence of living in a two-meter wide tent was also an awesome experience – with just a hotty thrown into your sleeping bag to keep warm at night. Having no normal world worries, no phones and limited connection to the rest of the world, other than a satellite phone for a crackly phone call home, offered an inner peace to our daily lives. We were disconnected, but yet so connected to our beautiful planet.

What did you find the most challenging?
Staying chipper for three months while working long hours and living closely with work colleagues, but the reward of being based in such a pristine environment outweighed those emotions.

Details: Website: www.emilylockhart.co.za , Instagram: @emilylockhartweddings

Text: Elana Wagner

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