Waves the size of houses and hurricane force winds make the Clipper Race one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet, but for some crew it’s life below deck, and more specifically in the galley, that gets them hot under the collar rather than the force of Mother Nature.

The pressure to cook three meals a day for up to 23 hungry crew mates through a Pacific storm or the baking heat of the Doldrums has won the crew the admiration of the one of the world’s top chefs during a tour of Derry~Londonderry~Doire today.

Jean-Christophe Novelli is headlining at the Clipper Race Kitchens in Ebrington Square today, a new feature in this year’s Foyle Maritime Festival to celebrate Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016.

“It was incredible to meet the crazy people who are going around the world on the Clipper Race yachts. I just went to the galley on the Derry~Londonderry~Doire boat and you can only admire the crew. I have been in the galley of a submarine before but this was even tougher surroundings than that. The crew I met obviously have a passion for what they are doing which is important in whatever you do,” said Jean-Christophe after his yacht tour with Skipper Daniel Smith and round the world crew member Ellie Fearon.

“When I went into the galley, I could immediately sense how challenging it would be to prepare food for such a large amount of people in such a small space, and that was while it was flat! It would be hard enough for me, let alone those not used to cooking in stressful environments.”

On what surprised him most about the race, Jean-Christophe said: “I didn’t know that the crew were not actually professional sailors until I met them today. I thought I was safe actually knowing that I couldn’t do the race myself as an amateur! It is a very tough challenge in so many different ways, and I will be thinking of them when they leave here on Sunday for the next stage of the race.

Asked if he could ever see himself on the race, he responded: “Haha, I think I have too many omelettes to cook. That’s my excuse anyway!!”

Clipper Race Kitchens features celebrity chefs and local producers all celebrating the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer in terms of culinary delights. Derry-Londonderry was actually named runner up in the Foodie Town Awards earlier this year, beating thirty other destinations across the island of Ireland.

Having arrived in the city to put on a live demonstration at the festival today, Jean-Christophe is impressed with the produce on offer.

“I’ve been a chef for over 40 years now, and I can smell and strongly sense that this is a region where you can get the most exclusive produce. I’ve been meeting lots of local producers here and I am very pleased to be able to use my skill, excitement and passion to help promote the Clipper Race Kitchens and the Foyle Maritime Festival 2016,” he said.

Speaking about the festival, which opened to the public yesterday, Clipper Race Kitchens organiser Mary Blake says: “The Clipper Race Kitchens event is now open and it’s just sizzling already. We already had 5,500 people through the event yesterday which was phenomenal. It’s really about getting local food and produce on to the menu and introducing our wares to all our international guests and visitors from the region.

“We have live cookery demonstrations by some of the north’s top chefs, and some of the Clipper Race crew will also get involved in a show tomorrow with famous local chef Brian McDermott which will be fantastic. Jenny Bristow is also here who is well known on the BBC and of course today’s highlight is the lovely Jean-Christophe Novelli who has a huge international following and can really help shine the light on the festival here,” she continued.

“The weather might not be great today but it’s actually a secret to the tastes of our produce, which we say is lashed by the rain and bashed by the winds. It’s wildly good so come hungry and try it for yourself.”

At 12 noon tomorrow (Saturday 16 July) some of our Clipper Race crew will be taking part in a live demo with local celebrity chef Brian McDermott so come along to the ‘Theatre of Food’ to watch them at work.

Clipper Race Kitchens is here until tomorrow. Click here for the full event schedule.

Apply now