This is one of the books I thoroughly enjoyed reading while we were in Italy. Brad also loved it. Chef-author, David Shalleck writes about leaving his paid job at Campton Place in San Francisco, as a saute cook, his training in Europe (London, Paris and Provence), and "learning the ropes" of cooking Italian through difficult internships in Piemonte, Florence, Lucca, Friuli, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, and Milano. He has a disasterous evening with Alice Waters which would make any cook cry in humiliation.
The wonderful forward is written by Mario Batali.
David, our "want to be chef", finally lands a job on an exclusive sailing yacht with very demanding owners, "Il Dottore" and "La Senora", hire him to bunk with a sailing crew and run the kitchen for a summer on the Mediterranean. The story is a delightful weaving of David's adventures learning to sail, speak Italian, shop for fresh supplies at each port, and enjoy working 20 hours a day to please the whims of the super-rich, and get along with fellow crew members.
The itinerary is a dream for travelers: They begin in French ports of Saint Tropez, and Monte Carlo, then arrive in Italy's Rivera. I get to re-visit Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Chiavari, Sestri Levante, Cinque Terra, Portovenere, and Lerici.
We sail south to Viareggio and Elba, then Porto San Stefano and Monte Argentario on the Tuscan coast.
Of course, I enjoyed the chapters visiting Positano, Capri and Ischia, Sardinia and Corsica.
The story doesn't quite end when the summer is over, as there is still the big sailing regatta in Saint Tropez to end the season.
As the owner's request is the freshest local ingredients from each port (with no repeat menus), there is quite a bit of cooking technique, and actual recipes in the back of the book. If you love to cook, eat or travel, I highly recommend this book. If you enjoy all three, it is a treasure you will want to keep and read again.
See David and the ship, and find out more here.