On Wednesday, during a radio link-up with Gitana Team, Sébastien Josse announced a water temperature of six degrees and the same for the air. Suffice to say that there’s been a chilly atmosphere of late aboard the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild, which is presently passing offshore of the Kerguelen Islands at 46 degrees South. In these conditions, the solo sailor isn’t straying far from his ritual of two hot meals every 24-hour cycle. A precious source of energy and comfort for someone who has now been sailing for 25 days. Throughout the year and not just for the Vendée Globe, Sébastien Josse is quite heavily involved in the composition of his provisions. And to tickle his taste buds, the sailor has a choice ally: the 2-Michelin-starred chef, Julien Gatillon, who has concocted some recipes for him from the Alps and the kitchens of the gourmet restaurant, Le 1920, at the Chalet du Mont d’Arbois; a Domaine du Mont d’Arbois entity founded by Noémie de Rothschild back in 1920 in Megève

“Food is the energy aboard,” Sébastien explains clearly, when questioned on the matter prior to his departure with a view to the video files published each week by Gitana Team (this Thursday discover: Alone around the world – The weekly #4 Diet). “I’m very interested in the food aboard. Maybe it’s because I’m greedy, but also because I can’t imagine opening a surprise food package and discovering dishes that didn’t suit my tastes. Eating well is good for morale and hence good for performance. You mustn’t take it lightly.”

Extreme gastronomy

It was a significant challenge for chef and skipper alike. Indeed, it was important to share their experience and their sensitivity so as to outline the flavours and the recipes that could accompany Sébastien Josse around the world. With no fridge, frying pan, saucepan or oven, just something in which to boil up desalinated sea water, the exercise becomes all the more difficult. Even in the best cookery shows, a challenge like that just doesn’t exist! “Indeed, we allowed ourselves to dehydrate Julien’s dishes. Dishes made with love and high quality produce. The smell and the taste of certain recipes will send me into raptures,” the sailor admits.

“When we started work, Sébastien was my only guide because he’s the one who knows exactly what he’ll want to eat after several weeks at sea and what will taste good once it’s rehydrated,” Julien adds. Atop the menus currently relished by the sailor in the Southern Ocean are soups and hot dishes like risotto with morels, squid a l’Armoricaine, as well as a cod and olive oil emulsion called Brandade. “For example, we’ve accentuated the seasoning; everything’s a lot saltier or sweeter,” explains the chef, who’s just 30 years of age. “It was also important for Sébastien to have texture, to be able to bite into something and to ensure the dishes didn’t all end up being much of a muchness. After several tests and adjustments, we managed to create some dishes that appeal to him and that’s something I’m very proud about.”

The skipper has also prepared all the rest of his supplies with nutritionist Virginie Auffret, who has experience of this rather special shopping list. After several weeks of exchanges, they reached a compromise between nutritional intake, a fondness of food and optimisation of the weight embarked. In this way, Sébastien has a relatively varied choice, with special emphasis going on the rations in the Deep South. In addition to Julien’s two dishes, the solo sailor allows himself several snacks in the day in order to have regular intakes of energy. In fact, it’s worth remembering that at these latitudes, sailors who stay awake for more or less 20 out of 24 hours, consume between 3,000 and 4,000 calories a day, which is double that of an adult back on land. 

Cooking and offshore racing, collective adventures

Hunting down a Michelin star entails a massive amount of teamwork, a great deal of talent and the expertise of a chef or a boss who guides the group to success. This universe is not a million miles away from the world of offshore racing and the daily life of the Gitana Team. By creating the racing stable in 2000, Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild had an ambition to gather together professionals from top-level sailing; sailors, engineers and creative talents, they too able to reach for the stars, these though made of sea foam and technological adventure. “At 1920, I’m surrounded by a team of around thirty people. There is also the team in the dining area with whom you have to be perfectly harmonised so that everything’s impeccable,” explained Julien Gatillon, who visited Les Sables d’Olonne a few days before Sébastien set sail on the Vendée Globe. “When I’m with Gitana Team, I find that same mindset, geared towards achieving excellence, where everyone respects one another and works collectively to be the best they can be. We also work for the same family and at the heart of the same universe, which is flourishing as Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild spur it on. The bridge that we’ve been able to build over the past few years between the sea and gastronomy has ever greater meaning here. It translates across to the teams and motivates them all the more.”

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