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Under a Mackerel Sky [Hardcover]

Rick Stein
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
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Book Description

12 Sep 2013

'All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why'

Rick Stein's childhood in 1950s rural Oxfordshire and North Cornwall was idyllic. His parents were charming and gregarious, their five children much-loved and given freedom typical of the time. As he grew older, the holidays were filled with loud and lively parties in his parents' Cornish barn. But ever-present was the unpredicatible mood of his bipolar father, with Rick frequently the focus of his anger and sadness.

When Rick was 18 his father killed himself. Emotionally adrift, Rick left for Australia, carrying a suitcase stamped with his father's initials. Manual labour in the outback followed by adventures in America and Mexico toughened up the naive public schoolboy, but at heart he was still lost and unsure what to do with his life.

Eventually, Cornwall called him home. From the entrepreneurial days of his mobile disco, the Purple Tiger, to his first, unlikely unlikely nightclub where much of the time was spent breaking up drink-fuelled fights, Rick charts his personal journey in a way that is both wry and perceptive; engaging and witty.

Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (12 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091949904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091949907
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rick Stein is a well-loved and respected chef, TV presenter and author who has produced an array of award-winning books and television series, including Rick Stein's Seafood, Seafood Lover's Guide, Taste of the Sea, Food Heroes, French Odyssey, Mediterranean Escapes and most recently Coast to Coast. All of his books and programmes show a commitment to good-quality produce, sustainable fishing and good husbandry.

Rick owns four restaurants, a delicatessen, a patisserie, a seafood cookery school and forty guest bedrooms in the small fishing port of Padstow, Cornwall. In 2003, Rick was awarded an OBE for services to West Country Tourism. He divides his time between Padstow and Australia, which he regards as his second home.

Product Description


"Although it focuses primarily on Stein's earlier years, the memoir also suggests an older man's ongoing wonder about the world in which he lives, the dish he is tasting, the village cafes he visits, the fish he has caught. It's pure Stein, and pure magic." --"The Weekly Review" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The wry, perceptive and brilliantly evocative memoir of one of Britain's best-loved cooks

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rick Stein Odyssey 27 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have always been a fan of Rick Stein and had to read this book as soon as it dropped through my letter box. 4 days later I have finished it and enjoyed every page. We all tend to form a view of a person in the hot light of celebrity but he manages to show a lot of his inner man. I was as curious about his divorce, remarriage, early life and his life with Chalky as any, but he has produced a work which rings a bell in my own mind.

Under a Mackerel Sky (a sign of bad weather) gives a strong account of his life, priveleged to a point, but this is never a divisive issue. He is not the hero of the book - his family and friends are. And the late, great Chalky, of course. Because of this we are able to see the young man trying to get over his father's suicide, his own insecurity, and his need to 'tough it out'. His mother must have been a very strong woman and comes across as such. She is worth his praise which is heartfelt.

He tends to be the lummox in his stories and he deals with self-doubt as do I - meet it head on and nut it: not terribly wise but very much the essence of a stubborn man. He treats his first wife, and business partner, with respect and levels no criticism at her. He sets himself up as the target for frowns if required, but he seems to me to be pretty honest. His slow rise to fame, by hard work and bloody mindedness shows grit. His success should show him he is a liked man, and the book shows he just may have reached a point where he can relax a little.

He is very proud of his children, extended family and friends and gives them all great value in this autobiography. There is enough about cooking, travel and culinary exploration to satisfy foodies, and enough about Padstow to bolster the local economy for years to come. Overall this is a very good read and he is a far better writer than he may realise. My only hope is he writes another with Chalky as the hero.

I highly recomment this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Under a mackerel sky 26 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is a breath of fresh air! Rick stein describes his life in so much depth, which keeps you intrigued until the very end. It's so interesting you struggle to put the book down. I think it's splendid.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 26 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I so enjoyed this book.

As I read it I could hear Rick Stein dictating it. There was a wonderful mixture of nostalgia, food and real life.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant and very human read 4 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is beautifully written. I have enjoyed Rick's programmes ever since I first saw him on a Keith Floyd programme. This autobiography really brought home to me the trials, tribulations and joys of everyone's lives even some one well known like Rick. Also, and very importantly, I became quite emotional when he wrote about Chalkie getting old - apparently, I was the first person to ask him for Chalkie's autograph rather than his!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the wait, a truely memorable read 27 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A slowish start,but I suppose most early life stories are the same.The true character of Rick Stein comes into being, a hard working,trying everything man who eventually reaps just rewards. The book also reflects his weaknesses and fears, not always the man you have seen so confidently on the tv screen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Under a Mackeral Sky was bought for me as a Christmas gift, along with a few other books. Whilst deciding which to read first, I picked this up and it remained the firm favourite until I finished it.

Rick Stein's TV appearances have - for me - always portayed a talented man but with a hint of vulnerability and insecurity that makes him somehow very endearing. Whilst some of his shows are more compelling than others, I often wondered what had shaped the man. In his shows he'd drop in anecdotes about an early career at the Great Western Hotel and his travels in Australia, but I always wondered what inspired him to cook.

The book reveals how a lot of his motivation came from memories of his mother and father and their Oxfordshire farm in the 1950s and 1960s. He paints a picture of a different sort of England and one that you can see him striving to recreate with his style of cooking and his interest in the people he calls 'food heroes'.

His journey through late adolescence, losing his father and his 'escape' to Australia further cement the story of a man desperately looking for his purpose, but sort of taking his time in doing so. The success that was to follow is fascinating, not for it's own sake, but for how he and his wife worked so hard for nearly 20 years in Padstow before anyone beyond their own circle knew who they were.

There are anecdotes aplenty about the restaurant business, rising to fame and becoming the success we know his as today. However, the last few chapters of the book descend into a list of of each of his TV series and what happened during their making - these all seem to blend after the first two or three.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Under a Mackerel Sky 2 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Really well written ! I now see Rick Stein in a totally different light!!! Would definitely recommend it. Gives a real insight into the man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Philip
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a lovely autobiography - I simply cannot think of a better adjective to describe this charming story of Rick Stein's life, which describes his failures and successes, both culinary and personal. Beautifully and simply written, the reader quickly becomes involved in Rick's day-to-day life, from the 1950s when he was a small boy right up to the present time. One realizes - not surprisingly - that there is a great deal more to his personality than is visible in his television persona.

I particularly enjoyed this book because I was able to empathize with so many of his experiences: from the places he knows, through school, the swinging 1960s, parties and girlfriends, to his love of Australia. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, which I can recommend to anybody.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 day ago by judith hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great! Thank you!
Published 6 days ago by FW
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Birthday gift for my mother who was delighted with it
Published 10 days ago by LesleyO
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 22 days ago by snowdrop
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I knew little of Rick' s life but have enjoyed watching him on TV. Interesting to read about his early life, how he made his way to building his restaurants. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Susan 4822
5.0 out of 5 stars Steiny is my favourite chef. Could watch him all day and this ...
Steiny is my favourite chef. Could watch him all day and this book was a great read. I could not put it down, and it was funny and sad in places.
Published 25 days ago by Dolly
4.0 out of 5 stars great romp through 60's & 70's and beyond culinary
Travelling, cooking, ending up at Oxbridge. The creation of Padstein. The end of a marriage. What a romp. Well worth reading.
Published 1 month ago by skhyam
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Inspiring read couldn't put it down! Absolutely brilliant book! The more I read the more I didn't want the book to end!
Published 1 month ago by Karen porter
5.0 out of 5 stars What a read!
Absolutely loved it, i felt he wrote with such honesty that i knew him.lovely story even if it had of been fiction, but so interesting.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. C. A. Read
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read.
A wonderful book especially if you know North Cornwall. Rick Stein is now seen with different eyes now he has worked hard to get where he is.
Published 2 months ago by Janice Rhodes
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