Author David Shalleck has worked for more than 20 years as a chef and producer of television food programs.
This book, however, recounts the experiences of one magic summer in his youth, when he was hired on a 154-foot yacht as the chief cook with control over a ship-board galley from which he had to prepare meals for parties that sometimes exceeded 100 guests.
The journey begins on the French Riviera, sails down the western coast of Italy to Amalfi, crosses the Tyrrenhian Sea to Sardinia, heads up to Corsica and ends up back in Saint-Tropez for an end-of-season grand regatta.
While the book offers a taste of the glitz of private yachting in one of the world’s more glamorous locales, it’s the adventures in shopping, cooking and serving that captured me. Shalleck’s shore excursions in quest of the best local produce and fish for his never ending cycle of regional dishes to satisfy the demands of La Senora are amusing and informative.
While there are several recipes at the back of the book, it was the narrative discussions of some of the dishes that inspired me. Most particularly was a sentence or two in which he wrote of something called Cacciucco Livornese. It’s an Italian seafood stew, only the fish is poached, not stewed. After reading Shalleck’s brief description of the dish, I created my own recipe and made it for dinner the following weekend. Jennifer said it was the best thing I cooked for her in the 40 years that we’ve been married. Later, I found the recipe in the back of the book. But it used a short cut for the sauce. I didn’t. I’m sure mine was better.