#2 Introducing Marco Castronovo!
04 February 2021
SailSterling gets to know Marco Castronovo, chef extraordinaire on our Lagoon 52 for our exclusive Wine & Catamaran tours of the Aeolian Islands. Image credit: Regionale Siciliana, Paolo Barone.
Marco, full of beans and smiling broadly, sits comfortably in his lounge in Palermo. He wears a crisp white shirt and sips intermittently from a large, cool glass of Sicilian lemonade – we didn’t ask him to! Since we confirmed Marco as resident chef onboard our flagship Lagoon 52, we’ve been itching to introduce him to our guests. So, here goes…
SS: Marco, thank you so much for joining us today for this impromptu Q&A! Tell us – where are you from?
MC: Pleasure to be here. My name is Marco and I am 41 years old. I come from the land of fire, Sicily, and I live in Palermo.
SS: Where does your love for the sea come from? Tell us a little about your past.
MC: My passion for the sea has been passed down through my family. Since I was a child, I have always had the need to be surrounded by salty water! This led, in 2008, to me following my passion for sailing and being near the sea. I gave up my more conventional lifestyle and now, for more than a decade now, I have been travelling around the globe, gaining new experiences as a chef and sharing my passion for sailing.
SS: Good food is of course central to the SailSterling Wine & Catamaran experience. What are your signature dishes?
MC: The dishes I love most always have fish at the centre of them, whether it’s raw or cooked. I think it is something magical to be able to savour a fish carpaccio under the moonlight, accompanied by a glass of Sicilian wine. I love to introduce my guests to the succulent texture of the indigenous branzino and, when I can get it fresh from the market, there is nothing more spectacular than grilling octopus on deck with an aperitif. But it’s not all about seafood. I also love to use the fresh flavours of local Sicilian vegetables, such as sundried tomatoes and capers – we are known for our vibrant salads and these are key ingredients. My arancini are showstoppers, I think the British say, perfect for snacking and as appetisers, using the very best porcini mushrooms. And for meat lovers, my beef ragout with a hint of chilli is guaranteed to excite the tastebuds.
SS: We’re salivating here already… My goodness that all sounds wonderful. So, what is it that inspires your cooking?
MC: I’m inspired by “Sicula” (Sicilian) cuisine for its intense and varied tastes. It also tastes of the history of Sicily. I can literally savour the influence of all the various rulers of Sicily: the Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs, Byzantines, Aragonese and Angevins. They all left their own marks on our art, culture and food and I love identifying those influences and cooking them in new ways, with different combinations.
I have travelled extensively around the globe, and my favourite type of cuisine, other than Sicilian, is Arabic. I love the scent of spices, especially cumin that goes well with fish and the aromatic turmeric with meat and I gladly use them in my recipes. I like to accompany the dishes with some Sicilian wines, such as dry whites such as Didyme or Bianco Pomice. With reds, I always recommend bold Sicilian red wines such as the Syrah and the Nero d’Avola which typically are fruity and full-bodied. I think all of these will be served on your tour!
SS: Quite right, Marco! Well, thank you very much for this fantastic insight into your story and into the fascinating world of Sicilian food. Our guests will be delighted to have you at their service. We can’t wait to see you at the end of August!
MC: Really, my pleasure. I hope you can see my passion for the sea, Sicilian cuisine and cooking for my guests is why I love my job as head chef on board the catamaran tours. I can’t wait to share this with your guests. See you soon!
SailSterling interviewed Marco Castronovo via Zoom on Thursday 4 February 2021
“I wanted freedom, open air, adventure. I found it on the sea.”
-Alain Gerbault, Sailor
Stringent cleaning procedures are already in-place across all boats globally for the well-being of our crew and guests. These will be further enhanced to meet government guidelines in the UK and Italy which are in place in July 2021 in relation to the COVID pandemic. These will include temperature checks prior to boarding; hand-sanitising stations in public areas; additional deep cleans of public areas including decks; social distancing if required. With each catamaran’s capacity at a maximum of 10 people including skipper and chef, if required in August, guests would remain in catamaran bubbles during visits to vineyards and other on-shore activities.