Mediterranean Summer by David Shalleck

"A 327-page book-sized vacation that comes with recipes and practically generates its own sea breeze"

— Janet Maslin of the New York Times


— Bon Appétit Magazine
"Food and travel porn at its most addictive."

— San Francisco Examiner
"Fast-paced, fascinating, and well-written..."

— Chef Jacques Pépin

An alluring, evocative summer voyage on the Mediterranean and into the enchanting seaside towns of France and Italy by a young American chef aboard an Italian billionaire couple’s spectacular sailing yacht.

The owner’s table is set for lunch amidships on board  S/Y Serenity  while at anchor in Cannes, France. Photo by David Shalleck

The owner’s table is set for lunch amidships on board S/Y Serenity while at anchor in Cannes, France. Photo by David Shalleck

Having begun my cooking career in some of New York’s and San Francisco’s best restaurants, I veered away from the conventional path of becoming a manager through promotion. Instead, without pay I chose to undertake a European culinary adventure to figure out what it means to be a chef through a series of demanding internships in Provence and throughout Italy. After four years abroad while I debated if it was time to return home and pursue something permanent, a unique opportunity presented itself: to be the chef on board Serenity, a classic sailing yacht owned by one of Italy’s most prominent couples. During my interview, the owners tasked me with the ultimate challenge— to prepare all the multi-course meals for them and their guests for the summer season with no repeats and comprised of local ingredients to reflect the flavors of each port— all from the confines of the yacht’s small galley while at sea.  

Throughout the story in Mediterranean Summer I bring you with me to experience both place and food along Serenity’s five-month journey. I prepare the simple classics of Provençal cooking while in the French Riviera, forage for delicate frutti di mare in Liguria to make crudo, try to find the freshest fish along the Tuscan coast for Cacciucco Livornese, embrace the season of sun-drenched tomatoes for acqua-pazza while in the Amalfi Coast, and cross the Bay of Naples to serve a decadent dark chocolate-almond cake during an anchor stop at the island of Capri. Along the way you’ll get the distinctive sights, sounds, and character of each port, the work hard/play hard life of being a crew member, and the challenges of producing world-class cuisine for the stylish and demanding owners and their guests.  

Mediterranean Summer offers a new perspective on breathtaking places, a memorable portrait of old world elegance and life at sea, as well as recipes and tips to re-create the delectable food. 

  • Winner 2008 Cordon d'Or Culinary Academy Award 
    Culinary Literature/Memoir

  • Winner 2007 USA Book News Awards 
    Travel: Essay


Book Photo by Melissa McArdle