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Under a Mackerel Sky

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  562 ratings  ·  68 reviews
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'
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published September 1st 2013 by Ebury Press
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  562 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Steven Godin
Stick to the kitchen Rick, do what you do best, cook great food, and stay away from writing. This book was just plain dull, dull, dull, gave up after two thirds. Bought up with a privileged background, wealthy parents who probably spoiled him, a public school boy, he never really had anything to challenge him. His life was just too good to even care, nothing to bring even a small amount of emotion to the surface. A self made man?, really! The only decent parts involved his experiences with food, ...more
Struggled through the first 60 pages, skimmed the next 20, then gave up. Disappointingly dull.
Beth (bibliobeth)
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Rick Stein is best known here in the UK as a chef with many thriving and successful restaurants under his belt, but he has also written a number of cookery books and presented shows on television, including Taste Of The Sea and Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. Under A Mackerel Sky follows the same pattern as your average autobiography – a few tales from childhood, the troubles of adolescence/young adulthood and the serenity of “clued-up” happy, adult life. For the most part, this is how Stein’s ...more
Andrew Pender-Smith
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
An honest, enjoyable read. The book flowed well and the work was enhanced by the author's clear descriptions of food and the places he visited.
Steve lovell
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am so blessed. One of my DLP's (Darling Loving Partner) many talents is the fact the she is a kitchen goddess. She produces delectable meals, always thoughtfully presented. She has a knack for turning fridge leftovers into flash tucker with, unlike your scribe, not being a slave to a recipe. I am no match for DLP in the culinary stakes, although I enjoy putting together a meal and I do have to force myself to not buy endless cooking books/magazines.

Another aspect of my darling lady is that she
Dean Goldstein
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I started reading Under a Mackerel Sky the minute I could after I found out that Rick had written an autobiography. As one of my favourite TV chefs, Rick's private life reveals a fair bit about his demeanour in front of the camera and technique whilst on tour.

(view spoiler)
Caroline Morris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
What an interesting life Rick Stein has had! He has certainly not held back when a new adventure presented itself. He does not gloss over the disasters and poor choices he had. This makes this autobiography all the more realistic and absorbing. For those of us who have loved his TV shows (and Chalky) this is the icing on the cake or the sauce on the fish dish.
I enjoy all Rick Stein's books and videos. He is such a nice ordinary man with a talent for not only quality and interesting recipes but also he has such a natural and likeable way with people.
Marjol Flore
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great read, cried over Chalky!
This was one painful read. I first saw Rick Stein on Masterchef Australia few years ago and I loved his humility and attitude towards food and his style of food. So when I came across his memoir I was so excited to read it and connect with him. At the very beginning where he describes his childhood on an English farm I was so intrigued and hopeful. But very fast I realised, because of the way in which this is narrated it was very hard to make sense of the timelines of his story and the people ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is disappointing, but that is not to say it is not enjoyable to read - I just expected more. The first half is quite enjoyable as Rick's formative years as a boy and young man are recounted with a certain honesty and thoughtfulness. The style is good. But about half way through it loses the plot and suffers a structural breakdown. There are chapters with random events spliced together - I suspect a hasty cut and paste job to get it finished. The last part is a commentary on various tv ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
#29. I really enjoyed this especially having only recently seen Rick Stein in conversation with Richard Glover, live at the State Theatre. The only negative comment would be that sometimes Rick's brutal honesty about himself tells us, or at least me as a big Rick fan, rather more than I would like to know about him, preferring the somewhat sanitised TV image of the man! I live his frequent references to favourite literature and especially to the music of his youth . . . very much the same as ...more
Julie Thomason
I enjoyed most of Rick Steins TV programmes and have a few of his cookbooks. I looked forward to reading this but found it tedious, the writing was sloppy, the content jumpy, even though an autobiography less is more might have been a better approach. The descriptions were heavy going and the lists of people places, ingredients made me glaze over. Not a book I’m glad I’ve read as I don’t know of I will enjoy his TV shows so much though I think he had started to go off the boil with his series ...more
Olivia V
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
He may not be the best writer or the best person but I don't give a f, he's my favourite chef.
we're both suckers for nostalgia, rurality, and simplicity.
The book is very short so it's not really a problem or difficult to read when it's the words of someone you admire.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read from one of my favourite chefs. Its a shame Rick doesn't cover more on his father or his transition between wives - but its up to him to share what he (and others involved) are happy to. A good read I would recommend with some nifty recipes.
Justin Walshaw
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
In an epic turn of events, our hero, Mr Stein, seeks to demolish the entire fish population of his past history in a somewhat mad and bloody campaign of terror, whilst wearing a decidedly unbuttoned shirt.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I listened to the audio book. If I was reading it, I suspect I would not have finished the book.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Complex, industrious, middle class chap, with an adventurous streak, sometimes struggles with petty insecurities, past personal traumas and life's little foibles, would like to meet excellent food, wine and beer, to love and be loved, to live and be merry.
Rob Nuzum
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Very good honest review of how he got to where he did
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have always liked Rick Stein, his TV programmes, his literary musings, and to a lesser extent, his food! I think a lot of his seafood recipes are a bit too "out there" for my conservative tastes.
Here is his Autobiography, then, in which he really does lay bare his life. I admire him for not glossing over parts that must have cost a great deal emotionally to put down.He writes very fondly of his almost idyllic childhood in Oxfordshire and Cornwall. It is almost idyllic and this is because his
Sue Page
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
One of the strongest elements of this book is the sound of Rick Stein's voice - it comes through loud and clear in the text, and you can virtually see him as you read. It's there in the words he chooses and the phrasing he uses, and the somewhat annoying incomplete sentences that work verbally but tend to fail when confined to paper. So that's definitely a positive. On the negative side, the book is utterly littered with names: it no doubt reflects his genuine passion and appreciation for the ...more
Well, I’ll start by saying that I generally love the cookery ethos of Rick Stein and that I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed watching his food-related travel programmes concentrating on many parts of the world.

This book felt a bit dry though and, despite a promising start where Stein talks freely and honestly about aspects of his early life, by the end of the book I didn’t feel that there was any real emotional connect as the book becomes really business-related and talks too much about the Stein
Steve Higgins
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first thing I must say about this book is that after only the first couple of pages, I knew I liked it, I knew I liked Rick's writing style and I knew, instinctively that this was going to be a good read.Rick Stein is famous as a chef and restraunter and his many tv shows about cookery and in particular, cooking fish have made him very popular indeed. In this book, subtitled a memoir, he talks nostalgically about his early life and links it with food and various dishes from his youth and ...more
Sep 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I was looking forward to reading this book as I have always enjoyed Rick Stein's cooking programmes on the TV. I was hoping to get a better understanding of him as a person but that is not what this book offers - it is boring!

There were far too many names 'listed' (boring lists if you have no clue who the people are!) against every reminiscence and often no further clue as to why they were mentioned at all. The book jumped around a lot and often when you thought that a topic had been covered you
Grant Trevarthen
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
We live in such a time that one of the subjects covered widely on TV, is that Food and it's preparation. And some of the Chefs that had been in the background beavering over a stove, have gained superstardom, with their own legions of fans.
In NZ we had Graham Kerr, and his 'Galloping Gourmet' TV series, which went global. Now we have Gordon Ramsay, with his 'Hells Kitchen' series, were he shows off his genuine Cooking prowess, and his extensive knowledge of expletives. There is also Anthony
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had always liked watching Rick Stein, in fact, I had had a very brief encounter with him at a Food Show in London some years ago; he seemed like a genuinely nice guy and although I was not overly keen on reading his autobiography, I gave it a go.

I'm sorry to say I was not very impressed. There were some truly interesting events in his life's journey from a somewhat privileged upbringing to being the tv cook he is today, it seemed as if he had fallen into his present occupation completely by
Polly Clarke
I wouldn't have chosen this book if it weren't for Richard and Judy's Autumn 2014 listing as I get all that I need from Rick Stein when he creates his amazing dishes and I also enjoy listening to him talking about the food and the places he's in. What this book does is give meat to the bones and now whenever I see him on the telly, I can see all that has made him... him.

I particularly enjoyed his daring expeditions around Australia in his youth which exposed him to varying degrees of human
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautiful memoir of a man and chef I admire.

It's ' warts 'n all ' with Rick. From his bi-polar father who jumped off a cliff, to his affair, divorce and re marriage.
One cannot help but wonder whether he would have been so successful had he not been ' discovered ' by David Pritchard, the producer of Keith Floyds TV series who used him in a Floyd programme. David then became the producer of all of Rick's series when he had left the ever increasingly eccentric Floyd. David wrote about
Julian Hudson
Jul 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting journey of life for Stein, the various jobs he had over the years, the businesses he started, his family life and spending quite a bit of time in Australia including working as a fettler in the Northern Territory. Although a bit too self-indulgent and convenient towards the end (e.g. everything turned out just fine, all family and friends did so well in life, the decisions I took were spot on) - seemed to be a bit of indulgence in self-justification for actions, choices and ...more
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Christopher Richard "Rick" Stein OBE (born 4 January 1947) is an English chef, restaurateur and television presenter. He is currently the head chef and co-owner of "Rick Stein at Bannisters" at Mollymook, New South Wales, Australia,[1] owns four restaurants in Padstow, a fish and chip shop in Falmouth, Cornwall and has written or presented a number cookery books and television programmes.
“To live the first five years of your life feeling that you are valuable is a wonderful thing and, if you don’t have it, then you spend the rest of your life trying to find it. I think my mother realised this and tried to compensate for my father’s extreme preoccupation with himself.” 0 likes
“I passionately believe now that the best thing you can do for your children is make them feel loved and make them feel special. To live the first five years of your life feeling that you are valuable is a wonderful thing and, if you don’t have it, then you spend the rest of your life trying to find it. I think my mother realised this and tried to compensate for my father’s extreme preoccupation with himself.” 0 likes
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