Born in New York, NY. Education: Syracuse University, B.F.A.
Chef. Director and producer of culinary television shows, including Cher's Story at the French Culinary Institute, Joanne Weir's Cooking Class, NapaStyle, and Fast Food My Way with Jacques Pepin. Founder of Volochef Culinary Solutions (consulting service).
(With Erol Munuz) Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France's Cote D'Azur and Italy's Costa Bella (memoir), Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2007.
David Shalleck has worked in the food industry as a chef, as a culinary consultant, and as a culinary producer and director for television programs. His skills as a chef have taken him to New York, London, San Francisco, France, and Italy.
Shalleck was struggling to make it to a position as a head chef in a successful restaurant when he took an internship in Provence, France. He hoped to inspire his creativity there, but he was released from his internship by the chef, who felt he was not cooking "from the heart," as reported by a Kirkus Reviews critic. Shortly thereafter, Shalleck took a summer job cooking for a wealthy Italian couple aboard their yacht. He recounts the experience in his memoir Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France's Cote D'Azur and Italy's Costa Bella, written with Erol Munuz. The account of a summer spent sailing along the French and Italian coasts from one beautiful port or village to the next, while eating fine food prepared by a chef, qualifies the book as "pleasurable daydream-fulfillment of the highest order," according to a reviewer for Desserts First.
In addition to providing pleasant material for escapist reading, however, the account also shows the realities of life for those who work on the yacht. Shalleck's cooking and storage space was limited, and he might have to go for days without putting into port for more food, so he had to plan carefully. His stove was not equipped to stay level if the seas were rough, so he had to account for the movement of the yacht while cooking. Furthermore, when not in demand as a cook, he had to fill in as a member of the crew.
Shalleck found his employers to be demanding and exacting in their standard for food, particularly the owner's wife, whom he refers to as "la Signora." Although the husband would occasionally come below deck to eat pasta and sauce or a panino with the crew. La Signora demanded that no meals be repeated and that the chef use as many fresh, local ingredients as possible. Shalleck had to be ready to cook at a moment's notice; in addition to his planned meals, he might be asked at any time to fix a snack or, as in one instance, to prepare food on the spur of the moment for a party of one hundred people, working only from the yacht's galley. His stories provide "both high drama and low humor," according to Mark Knoblauch in Booklist. The author also provides some of the recipes he used to make the meals described in the book.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Shalleck, David, and Erol Munuz, Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France's Cote D'Azur and Italy's Costa Bella, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Booklist, May 1, 2007, Mark Knoblauch, review of Mediterranean Summer, p. 60.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Mediterranean Summer.
Publishers Weekly, June 7, 2004, "Broadway's Charlie Conrad Bought a Book That Combines Racy Travel Memoir and Food Called Foraging for Dinner by a Young New York Chef, David Shalleck," p. 9.
Barbara Jo's Books to Cooks,http://bookstocooks.com/ (February 13, 2008), Tony Penneff, review of Mediterranean Summer.
Dessert First,http://dessertfirst.typepad.com/ (August 12, 2007), review of Mediterranean Summer.
Gourmet Retailer,http://gourmetretailer.com/ (September 1, 2007), James Mellgren, review of Mediterranean Summer.
Mediterranean Summer Web site,http://www.mediterraneansummer.com (January 19, 2008).
New York Times Online,http://www.nytimes.com/ (June 1, 2007), Janet Maslin, review of Mediterranean Summer.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (January 19, 2008), author profile.
Volochef Culinary Solutions,http://www.volochef.com (January 19, 2008).