Running away with the circus is a far cry from where Queensland born Shane ‘Skip’ Schipper thought he’d ever he.
Spending his formative years in the small town of Mount Morgan, Shane had thought he’d go on to be a mechanic – but with a recession at the time and a shortage of jobs he decided to study food and beverage instead.
Little did he know that decision would eventually lead him down the circus path, travelling to more than 30 countries cooking up all manner of dishes for the crew of Cirque Du Soleil, with wife Amanda Quayle documenting their travels along the way in her blog – Graze The Earth.
Shane’s real love affair with food began while he was working at the then named ‘Powerhouse’ – a five star boutique hotel in Brisbane. He then moved to Macau, and it was working in a casino a friend told him of the role coming up at Cirque Du Soleil. With wife Amanda enthusiastic about the adventures and opportunities it would provide, he applied, and the rest as they say, is history.
The role takes the pair all over the world (they’re now in North America until the end of the year), where Shane creates dishes highlighting the local cuisine, always inviting the local Cirque employees to bring their families along to join the feast.
Recently in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, they served pierogi (polish dumplings), borsch (soup), polish sausages and deli meats with slow roasted goose leg and cherries; while in the west German city of Dusseldorf it was schnitzels, pretzels followed by sushi, teriyaki chicken and edamame to pay homage to the large Japanese population.
Shane says it’s not all clowning around cooking, and there are many challenging times, particularly around Christmas and New Year, “we love camping and it’s hard to see all the sunshine and blue water at home where we are walking to work in zero temperatures”.
He says it can also be hard to find suppliers in new markets because they are only in each city for six to eight weeks, “my main concern though is always trying to keep everyone happy, because there are around 20 different nationalities on tour”.
But, he says all in all it’s an incredible experience and really the only way to top it would be becoming an OAM (Official Accompanying Member) on tour.
“Really not much could top this,” well, he says, “if I can get Amanda to find a job with Cirque then we can always switch places and I can fish for a living!”
For more on Shane’s travelling circus: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/kooza/show/about.aspx
To follow Amanda and Shane’s culinary journey: www.grazetheearth.com.au