Q&A with Food, Sail, Love: A Voyage Of Food & Culture
Food, Sail, Love is a unique series, filmed against the backdrop of some of the world’s most ancient landscapes; where the history springs to life as each episode covers a different region in the Mediterranean. A stunning voyage of food, culture and friendship along the alluring coastlines of Italy Greece, Turkey and France, providing an insight into the local cultures, foods and traditions still observed today, in stark contrast to our modern fast-paced lifestyle. Narelle and Patrick met more than 20 years ago on the Greek island of Rhodes and fell in love. Even though they were from different sides of the world, they met halfway through their passion for the Mediterranean.
Patrick, as skipper, and Narelle, indulging her passion for food as chef, has been working on the classic yacht 'Barinia' cruising along the Mediterranean coasts over 25 years.
If one is passionate about the Mediterranean, it is almost impossible not to truly admire Food, Sail, Love, and follow the alluring journey of Patrick and Narelle. Their culinary and nautical adventures around the Mediterranean as they visit friends, and celebrate the food and culture born of a deep connection between the land, the sea, and the people… This love affair with Mediterranean life invites the viewer to experience the real life of the locals and their determination to preserve their precious traditions.
Read along their journey where we asked them questions about their love affair with the Mediterranean, life at sea, as well as a delicious recipe to make on board!
Who are the people behind Food, Sail, Love? Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your story?
Narelle is Australian and came to London on a ballet scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dancing at the age of 18. After graduating she went to the Greek island of Rhodes to run a ballet school. Patrick, was born in France but raised and educated in England, worked as a sailing instructor with Club Med for almost ten years before moving to Rhodes to run a bareboat operation.
How did you meet?
Rhodes, therefore, is where we met, fell in love, married and began sailing together, Patrick as skipper, and Narelle, indulging her passion for food, as chef although continuing her work at the ballet school during the winter months. We finally bought our own yacht, the classic 58-foot racing yawl LUTINE. We restored her and operated her as a charter yacht on Turkey’s exquisite Turquoise Coast for 5 years before selling her and joining the private 73-foot ketch BARINIA, another classic. We have been running her ever since, for the same owners…
How did you come up with the concept of Food, Sail, Love? What made you decide that this was what you wanted?
The concept of Food Sail Love was really the natural outcome of over 30 years’ cruising the Mediterranean. Many people were trying to encourage us to somehow record our experiences. One of them, a filmmaker friend of ours, couldn't get over the fact that we were married and lived and worked together 24/7 and offered to capture our lifestyle on film. We shot the series during the early and late seasons over a couple of years. It has aired in a number of countries including Turkey, Russia and Italy as well as on some airlines. The still photography shot during the filming has since been collated into three books, the first of which will hopefully be published some time in 2023.
What’s your voyage schedule look like? During winter what do you do?
Our usual cruising period is May to October inclusive and is generally spent in the central and eastern Mediterranean. The yacht is laid up every winter from November till about April. We have wintered BARINIA in a variety of locations, mainly in France and Venice, but also on three or four occasions in Marmaris, Turkey and, more recently, in Malta. The winters are spent maintaining and refurbishing the yacht – a full-time job – but we do manage to make time to enjoy our house in France and catch up with friends and our scattered families.
How is a day in the life of Food, Sail, Love? Can you help us visualise a day while you are sailing?
A typical cruising day starts with us serving breakfast on deck after our guests have enjoyed a morning swim, always in a beautiful and (hopefully!} secluded bay. This will normally be followed by a trip ashore for fresh provisions – Narelle always loves a local market – as well as perhaps a little sightseeing. At around 11;30-12:00 we will anchor and sail or motor for an hour or so to a new anchorage where the guests will usually have a swim, followed by a delicious lunch concocted by Narelle, using whatever she has found in the market and on the local fishing boats. Again, this will be served on deck under the sun awning. After lunch there will generally be more swimming, maybe some water sports – wind-surfing, water skiing, paddle-boarding – maybe even a siesta. At around 4 or 5 O’clock we will often move again to a new location for dinner, either on board under the stars or in a taverna ashore where we soak up some of the local ambience.
What have been your best moments of sailing with Barinia in the Mediterranean?
The best moment each season has always been the day we first put to sea after the re-launch from the boatyard and the last-minute madness of final preparations. This is the moment when we know that a new adventure is beginning and that we are now on our own and dependent only on ourselves and the yacht’s own resources and supplies. It is a wonderfully cathartic feeling.
Tell us about an unforgettable memory you had in the Mediterranean, while you were sailing or while you were with friends, or learning about something new…
This is one of those eternally-asked and generally impossible-to-answer questions, along with “which is your favourite place?”
Nevertheless, one experience does really stand out – our very first visit to Venice.
At that time the yacht had no radar, and GPS had not yet been invented. The coast of Venice is only a few feet above sea-level with virtually no visible features, so I timed our arrival for just before dawn so that I could make our land-fall using the navigational lights on the shore. We entered the lagoon by the Lido gate and motored slowly toward the city in the first glimmer of dawn, arriving in St Mark’s Basin as the sun heaved itself over the horizon and bathed Venice in an ethereal watery light. It was absolutely magical.
When travelling, you make new friends and probably lose touch with many of them when you move to the new destination. Do you still enjoy making new friends? How do you deal with connecting with so many people and then having to leave them? Or how do you stay in touch?
We of course love meeting new people, and since we made the Food Sail Love TV series we and/or the yacht have been recognised on quite a number of occasions. In the old days, staying in touch was a time-consuming affair involving paper, pens, post offices etc, and we would indeed often lose touch. However, frequenting the same places from year to year, we very often bump into the same people again and again and renew these friendships. Nowadays of course, with email and social media the problem is virtually solved. Also, travelling as we do most winters between Australia and Europe we do get the opportunity to ‘drop in’ on people we might otherwise lose touch with.
If you had to choose one spot to spend the rest of your life, where would it be?
If we had to choose one spot for the rest of our life, it would definitely be on the Mediterranean – that’s the easy part of the answer; where exactly..?! is the difficult part! We have an enduring love-affair with Greece where we met and married, the coast and people of Turkey have held us rapt for decades, Italian food and culture are very strong magnets, the French riviera, Patrick’s birthplace and our home for the past 30 years has a very special place in our hearts. An impossible choice!
What do you recommend to people passionate about sea voyages? What is your advice for young people who want to travel/sail along the Mediterranean?
Nowadays, if you want to make your passion your career and work in the yachting industry, even at the most basic level, it is mandatory to have your basic qualifications – STCW firefighting, first aid etc. Nevertheless, nothing substitutes for experience and we have always made the distinction between C-time (where ‘C’ is for Classroom) and SEA-time, which is what forms a real seaman.
What did life in the sea teach you that no other jobs would?
Life at sea is a great leveller. It teaches a healthy respect for the elements and, maybe above all, humility – the vastness of the sky and the power of the ocean remind us of how small and insignificant we are. It has also given us the opportunity to understand the sheer beauty of the world we live in – fabulous sunsets, spectacular sunrises, surreal cloud formations, cavorting dolphins, breaching whales…
What are your plans for 2023?
In 2023 we will leave Malta in May and our season will commence in Venice where we will spend about a month. After that we will cruise Croatia’s Dalmatian coast Montenegro and the Greek islands of the Ionian Sea.
We also intend to publish the first volume of our book trilogy, The Venetian Lagoon.
Share your favourite food / recipe with us to make on board!
Since our season will start in Venice and the first volume to be published will be on the Veneto, it seems fitting to share with you one of our all-time favourites, a staple from the Venetian lagoon – Spaghetti alle Vongole. This is the very first dish we ever had in Venice. As explained above, we had sailed into San Marco at daybreak and had to wait a few hours for high tide before we could get BARINIA into her berth at the Cipriani. We ate on the fondamenta watching life go by on the water, sipping a cold Veneto wine – we thought we were in heaven. We fell in love then and there with both the city and the dish.
Here is the Spaghetti alle Vongole recipe.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In the early 80’s, shortly after Kenan Evren’s military coup, Narelle and I and four other foreign yachtsmen organised the first ever agents’ week in Marmaris, which was then still a very small town huddled around its castle with only 2 hotels and 2 restaurants. We managed to attract 9 or 10 charter brokers -- mainly American -- and a journalist or two and there were about a dozen or so yachts in attendance. This first show was a success and generated a splendid article in the New York Times, along the lines of “The Best Kept Secret in the Med.” Suddenly Turkey was on the tourist map! Marmaris Agents’ Week became an annual event, growing exponentially, and culminated in the conception and very rapid construction of Marmaris marina by the late 80’s – as far as we then knew, the first purpose-built marina in Turkey. Despite the enormous changes this has caused to the Turquoise Coast it still remains, for us, one of our favourite cruising areas in the Mediterranean.