Cooking On A French Riviera Yacht! Joining A Saucier’s Apprentice! Two Great Books On Food! Delicious Recipes Too!

Want Some “Crazy Fish?”

If you like the look of this dish, then this is the post for you – because I’ve got two books that celebrate incredible food like this, with recipes!

Let me set the stage:

Imagine Life On a Yacht!

This picture sums up what I imagine life on a yacht is like – bikinis and the deep blue sea – and nights moored at French Riviera towns with views like this:

hotel monaco.16

Photographer Christophe Chou captured sunset in Monaco – what a life…and guess what? All of these mega Yachts and Sailboats have gourmet kitchens like this one:

Here is a terrific book about cooking on a yacht that is cruising the Italian Riviera, written by David Shalleck, a Chef who did just that! He took a job cooking for a wealthy Italian couple, and spent a season cooking aboard their private yacht as they cruised the French Cote d’Azur and Italy’s Costa Bella. Along with Writer Erol Munoz, he tells the “down below” story of cooking for the super-rich in one of the most beautiful places in the world!

This book is full of fun adventures, and interesting insights into cooking. Chef Shalleck got to shop some of the most amazing food markets along the French Riviera, like in Cannes:

The book is filled with funny food adventures, and a real insider’s peek at what it’s like to cook incredible food like this!

Fish in Crazy Water – Recipe by Chef David Shalleck, © 2007 David Shalleck

From the region of Campania and a classic of Neapolitan cooking, this recipe is all about a great piece of fish cooked in a wonderfully simple way. Since the list is short, using great ingredients is paramount. At the beginning of the cooking, everything in the pan is fairly dry, but by the time the fish is cooked, there will be a simmering bath of acqua pazza—crazy water! This is a perfect way to cook halibut and other flaky fish like snapper, grouper, or bass. Use vine-ripened tomatoes that are not too soft. And by rinsing off the capers, you will get seasoning from the capers, not the flavor of the brine. Serve with roasted or steamed potatoes.

Six 6-ounce pieces skinless halibut fillet
Fine sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for drizzling
About 1 3/4 pounds ripe, firm tomatoes, seeded and cut into 3/8-inch dice (3 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed and finely minced

Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly crush the garlic cloves and put in a sauté pan that will be large enough to hold all the fish and some of the tomatoes in between in a single layer. Add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, gently shake and tilt the pan so the cloves are immersed and sizzling at one side of the pan in a pool of the oil. As the cloves start to turn golden, lay the pan flat on the burner so the oil covers the entire surface. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Tilt the pan so you can spoon some of the garlic oil over the exposed side of the fish. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and parsley, evenly distributing them over the entire surface of the fish and in between the fillets. Cover and lower the heat so the pan juices come to a slow, even boil. Add the capers 2 to 3 minutes later so their flavor will not overpower the rest of the dish. Continue to simmer until the fish is opaque and slightly firm 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer the fish with a slotted spatula to warm plates or a serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes over the fish, then with a regular spoon, place some of the residual “crazy water” in the pan over the fish and enough on the dish or platter to serve it in a shallow pool. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve subito (immediately)!

I have been fortunate enough to go to the south of France, and I love the food there – one in particular:

Soupe de Poisson – this thick, rich fish soup is topped with slices of baguette that have been slathered with aioli and shaved parmesan…amazing!

See more of my Cannes food adventure here:

My wife Alex and I also cooked int he South of France:

PAtricia Wells Provence cooking class

We had the chance to cook at a terrific cooking school in the south of France, and I have posted about that great adventure before…you can see what we cooked here:

Perhaps that is why I was so intrigued by a book I found, which documented one Writer’s effort to change his life by cooking his way through Europe!

The Saucier's Apprentice

The Saucier’s Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe!

This is the perfect storm of a memoir: a great travel guide, a funny cooking adventure, and a mid-life crisis all in one book!

bob spitz cooking

Author Bob Spitz was going through a mid-life crisis, so he decided to get away and embark on a foodie trip to Europe with one goal: to learn to cook like a pro!

cooking book

Here is why I loved the book: Spitz is open and honest with his personal life: he spent eight years researching and writing a book on The Beatles, and his marriage failed during that time.

great cooking memoirs

The Author arranges to cook at several private cooking schools, like one in the south of France near Cannes:

Cannes France

Spitz also is allowed into the kitchen of the 3-star restaurant L’Arpege in Paris – where he meets legendary Chef Alain Passard – to hilarious results:

Alain Passard L'Arpege

He also attends private cooking school in France, and end up in Italy – and in the kitchen of a small local restaurant that helps him understand the true meaning of food:

Locanda Senio, Tuscany

Throughout, Spitz is honest – and acerbic – about the Chefs who are teaching him, the other students who are cooking alongside him, and the people in his life who have left him…and of course, he cooks and cooks and cooks…

best restaurant recipes

I found the book to be very entertaining, funny, and full of great recipes…but the book was very polarizing as well – many Amazon reviews were fairly devastating – here is one:

“This book was so full of misinformation that it was a struggle to read. It was unreal to see the mistakes. Restaurants spelled incorrectly, villages set in the wrong geograhic locale, horrific descriptions of people. One cannot believe the arrogance of this author.”


The negative reviews focused on his honest opinion about the people he meets on his food journey – but I thought it was very well written and funny, and he is as tough on himself as anyone else in the book:


There were also many positive reviews on Amazon as well, like this one:

“I just loved this book. It was so reminiscent of some of the cooking schools, classes and experiences that my friends and I have encountered. Spitz’s take was so “right-on” that I was swept away with his descriptions and could, almost, smell and taste his creations. We four ladies have traveled the “Circuit” and though we didn’t visit the exact schools and or restaurants Spitz did, we were parrallel to most of them.”

Author Bob Spitz

So you can see, many people agree with me: this is a great book for foodies, as well as travel fans!

Let me know if you’d be willing to see the world from this view!

Categories: Books / Media, cookbooks, Exotic Travel, Food, food blog, Food Review, Italy, Memoirs, Pop Culture, Recipes, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, Wacky Food, wine

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9 replies

  1. Quite an experience, must have been am guessing… and what a fine read this…


  2. Ha – John – I could learn to live the yacht life, but this all seems too exotic for where my life might ever take me. Sure looks like fun though and I know I could get into learning how to cook at this level. Thanks for the glimpse of a great way to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An entertaining post, John. I enjoyed your comments about the last book. I suspect there could have been a few cultural clashes at work. Thanks for the recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Would always love to see those views – and try those tastes. But all without me cooking 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not great on water, but I would enjoy eating on the boat as long as it was moored. 🙂
    They look like interesting cookbooks, John.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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