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episode 49 into the story podcast. Chef Clive travels the world

Episode 49: Chef Clive Travels the World

Level: Upper-intermediate
Accent: North American (Canada)

Clive tells his story opening businesses in different countries, working as a chef on private jets and yachts in search for new experiences and human connection.

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[00:00:00] Bree: Hello? Hello everyone. It is your host Bree here. If you’re already a listener, then welcome back. And if you’re new to the Into the Story podcast, then I would like to say a special, welcome. Before we get into today’s story, I’d like to tell you how I met today’s storyteller. A few years ago, I was walking the streets of Tarragona, Spain. This is a beautiful coastal town on Spain’s Northern Mediterranean coast. It’s a place full of Roman ruins and delicious restaurants, but it’s not as well-known as places like Barcelona. However it is on the New York times top places to visit in 2023. But for now you just don’t hear a lot of English speakers. So I’m walking the streets of Tarragona. A place I know well, and I love when I see this cafe that I don’t recognize. I looked through the window and I see pieces of pie and cookies on the counter. It looks like a cafe in Canada. So I walk inside. I can smell fresh bread and coffee and everybody’s talking and laughing and just enjoying themselves. And that’s when I immediately notice a man’s voice coming from the back, speaking in English. and I see this man, rushing around making sandwiches, pulling bread and cookies out of the oven. His name was Clive and he was Canadian like me.

[00:02:02] Have you ever had this experience where you meet someone and you just wonder, how did you get here? What is your story? Well today, we are going to hear one of those stories. It starts on a farm in Canada and takes us on an adventure through many businesses and working on yachts and private jets, and ends here in this cafe in Tarragona, Spain.

[00:02:33] And just one more thing. If you haven’t already, then please follow into the story on your favorite podcast app. It means you’ll never miss a new episode. And it also helps other people find us. So thank you for supporting the show. Okay. It’s that time where we look at words and expressions that you can learn from Clive’s story. The first one is to talk yourself into something. Or to talk your way into something. So to talk yourself into something, can mean to convince yourself to do something. But to talk your way into something. can mean to use convincing words or arguments to get someone, to give you a chance or access to something. So to talk your way into an opportunity. For example, he talked himself into a job interview, by impressing the manager with his skills. Or she talked her way into a VIP event To talk yourself into something or to talk your way into something.

[00:03:55] Next. Pinnacle. So pinnacle refers to the highest point, or the peak of something. And it’s often used to describe achieving really high levels of success or excellence. For example, winning the championship was the pinnacle of her career. Or reaching the summit of the mountain was the pinnacle of our hike. The pinnacle.

[00:04:27] Next to rip something apart. This means to completely dismantle or deconstruct something. To completely take it apart. And it’s often used to refer to buildings or structures. For example, they had to rip apart the old house and rebuild it due to damage. Or he decided to rip apart the old engine and rebuild the car. To rip it apart.

[00:05:04] Next relentless. Someone who is relentless is someone who is persistent and they continue pursuing something normally until they achieve success. For instance, he was relentless with his studies and he ended up getting good grades at school. Relentless.

[00:05:28] And lastly to belong. And a related expression to lay roots somewhere. So first to belong means to feel like you’re a part of a particular group, place or community. it’s this sense of being connected or included? For instance, moving to a new city, made it hard for him to feel like he belonged Now to lay roots somewhere means making a place, your home and investing time, and effort. To build connections and a sense of belonging. For example. After years of traveling, I decided to lay roots in a small coastal town. To belong. And to lay roots somewhere.

[00:06:24] As always you have an extended vocabulary list, the transcript and a quiz on our website. I will leave you a link and the show notes.

[00:06:34] All right now, it’s the fun part. Let’s get into the story.

[00:06:39] Clive: The very first school I went to in Canada was called Wrigley’s Corners. it was a two room school house

[00:06:47] you had cornfields on the left, Um, there was a bird sanctuary right across the street. It was like, um, it was like going to your grandma’s. It was, it was really cool. It was, uh, everybody ate together. And everybody was, everybody knew each other. So all my friends lived along that, that one strip of road that, uh, that we had to travel to get to school. but when I say it Was in the middle of nowhere. It was in the middle of nowhere. Um, you barely ever saw a car go by

[00:07:23] Bree: Clive grew up on a farm and he grew up learning how to cook from a very young age. By the time he was seven, he was baking bread and cooking simple meals, like stews and breakfast. And then when Clive was 25 years old, he read an article about a job opportunity. A place called the Bull Hotel in Southeast England was looking for a chef. So he decided to go for an interview.

[00:08:00] Clive: So. I, I took this interview and I really didn’t think that I was, I wanted this particular job, but when they took me for the tour through the kitchen, um, in the pantry, I saw this absolutely beautiful girl and, um, Uh, as soon as I saw her, I thought, okay, well, I’m going to take the job. as sous chef, uh, assistant head chef.

[00:08:23] Bree: The decision to take the job men leaving Canada to explore a whole new world of cooking and experiences. At the bull hotel, he learned a lot about cooking. He even won a competition and got promoted from being the sous chef to head chef, which is the top chef in a kitchen. And then Clive decided that he was ready for a change. He wanted to go to the big city. It was time to go to London.

[00:08:54] Clive: Um, so I ran two big brasseries called Smolenskis. One was on the Strand, which was like, um, uh, it was like Broadway. Uh, this is where all the, all the shows are. And the other was on Dover street, which was right beside the Ritz hotel. So I ran that for a little while. And then I decided to open a organic, uh, organic, restaurant called the ozone but I was too young. I was too young to actually run a business. I surrounded myself with all the wrong people. I, I, I found out maybe a year into it that my accountant, um, was a, uh, He was a gambling addict, so he, he lost, uh, quite a bit of our money.80 pounds, in a weekend. So, you know, you live and you learn.

[00:09:43] Bree:

[00:09:46] After learning that his accountant had stolen 80,000 pounds and lost all of it, Clive decided to close the business and walk away. But he stayed in London. At the time he had a friend who was working as a chef on a yacht. And Clive thought that it sounded like an incredible opportunity, so his friend helped him get an interview.

[00:10:12] Clive: Andif I can get an interview, I can basically talk myself into. most situations. Um, so I got to get onto this yacht. It was a 65 meter yacht, um, as crew chef. So that’s, that’s below the, the, the head chef. And, um, a very first time I was really ever on the sea. So the first two, three months because of the seasickness was just horrendous. I lost, I lost so much weight. It was just incredible.

[00:10:46] And then they informed us we were doing an Atlantic crossing.

[00:10:48] I’m not the greatest swimmer, I’m never comfortable really around the water, and um, to, to go on an Atlantic crossing, especially when you hit, say, a small storm, God, thank God I’ve never seen a big storm at sea, I, I don’t know if I would live through it, because having waves to be 10, 15 , 20 meters high. It’s like being on a roller coaster. So your boat’s taken up and then you come slashing down. So the very first time I was just, I’d be alone in my cabin going, okay, I’m going to die. This is it. It’s the Titanic all over again.

[00:11:36] Bree: Clive did survive that storm and the Atlantic crossing. Working on the yachts used to be like a secret adventure. There weren’t many jobs, which made it super exciting, but it was very strict, like the military. It was intense and challenging, So when they would dock somewhere, when they would stop the boat somewhere, he’d quit and look for a new adventure.

[00:12:05] Clive: I wanted to see how other people lived. I wanted to see, I wanted to see other people. I wanted to hear other languages.

[00:12:14] Bree: Eventually Clive decided to take a longer break from working on the yachts and he got off the boat in France.

[00:12:22] Clive: So. when I first went to, uh, to France, I didn’t speak any French. The very first job I took was I was moving pianos with two other French guys who didn’t speak a lick of English. Um, so that was, uh, that was wild. I had so much fun, but I didn’t want to do it for a long period of time.

[00:12:45] And then, um I worked with private jets, at the Bourget. It’s a private airport in, uh, the northern suburbs of France. Uh, I worked there for three years as head chef. Um, they hired me not speaking any French and that’s where I learned my French because all the all the other chefs that worked for me were French that was the hardest job i’ve ever had because the French are very different than the Spanish or the Germans, or… Oh, no, you will learn French You will learn it or you’ll get no respect. So I learned it very quickly.

[00:13:27] Bree: So now Clive speaks some French. And he has a lot of experience as a chef. He’s also older and wiser than he had been when he opened the restaurant in London and lost all of that money. So he decided to open another restaurant

[00:13:46] Clive:

[00:13:47] I started another business in a, in a small place called Genvilliers it was the typical French village where maybe, maybe this is all I saw, but you know, the, the old guy on a bicycle with the beret and the baguette and that to me, that was France, that it was always a dream. You know, being a, being a chef. It really was the pinnacle of where I should go. So I went there and I opened a place called, uh, The Gentleman Caterer. So The Gentleman Caterer. and I was right beside a, an industrial area, which was phenomenal. And I, I knew, I knew some girls who played volleyball, in Paris. So one night I convinced them to this day.

[00:14:39] I still don’t know how I convinced them, but I convinced them to do some marketing for me by going to these industrial areas and, uh, taking burgers as a, as a taster, so, so when I opened. I was doing, I was doing 200, 250 people at lunch.

[00:15:00] there was lineups on the street waiting for burgers.

[00:15:03] Bree: This little restaurant The Gentlemen Caterer, was really successful. It was a tiny place and he was serving 250 people at lunch. But he decided that it was time to leave Now, by this time in Clive story, I think that you can see that he makes decisions fast. And he looks to the future. So reflecting on this and different decisions he’s made in life Clive says this:

[00:15:35] Clive: Um, unfortunately, I get bored very quickly. There was many times that I would just get up, pack my bag and leave. And, uh, it didn’t really matter what was happening, at the particular time, um, it was just, I had to see this other thing, or I had to do this other thing, or I had to experience something else.

[00:16:03] Bree: So Clive’s time and France came to an end and then he went to reunion island. A beautiful paradise located in the Indian ocean. While he was there, he opened another business. This time, a bar.

[00:16:20] Clive: I loved every single thing about Reunion, the food, the culture, everything. but it was too small. It was, it was just too small. so I got back on, I got back on the yachts and I wanted to travel more. I wanted to see more.

[00:16:38] and, I worked on three or four different yachts. And, um, the last one that I was on was, a yacht called I dynasty. It was, uh, 101 meters, just a beautiful yacht,

[00:16:49] Bree: And then the, I dynasty, docked. It stopped and Tarragona and Clive decided to get off. But this time he needed a long break from work.

[00:17:03] He was just enjoying life going to the beach hiking, and going to this coffee shop every morning.,

[00:17:12] Clive: it was a place that sold bread and coffee and I would go in in the morning for coffee. And, um, I could never really figure out what the woman was doing because she’d sell Kids clothing and there’d be toys on the floor. And I enjoyed going there because nobody was there.

[00:17:28] I’d be there by myself, having coffee, feeling very Spanish. so after a period of time, when I started to begin to understand Spanish, I, I heard that, um, she wanted to sell because she, she complained constantly. So. I waited and waited until one day when she was just completely out of control, and I told her, okay, I’ll buy it.

[00:17:54] so we negotiated and within six weeks, she accepted, reluctantly accepted my, my, my meager offer to buy her cafe. And, um, within, I’d say a week of, of buying the cafe, I had ripped everything apart, rebuilt everything and was ready to go I, I honestly opened it to learn Spanish. I opened it because I thought I’ll sell 10, 15 coffees a day. I’ll sit with some people. We’ll have chats. We’ll have these conversations. I’ll develop relationships. It didn’t work out that way. because within a week, the place was full. and I was doing it all myself. So the kitchen, the service, the coffee, and keep in mind, I didn’t speak any Spanish so I had to memorize everybody’s order. So when they came in, I would just automatically make it and just pray to God that they didn’t change it that day. So sometimes they would look at me like, who is this guy? And, uh, but I think I became a novelty. I think a lot of people came just to see the crazy English guy and the shop.

[00:19:15] but I’m happy because we’ve developed something really cool. it’s gone from being chef Clive to It’s now become the chef Clive experience. this is the first time in my life that I really want to build something. I’m relentless with whoever works for me that they have to really be themselves, develop a rapport with the people, give them, I like to say, give them the Canadian country service that you would get if you went into a truck stop,

[00:19:47] Bree: Clive has achieved exactly this in his cafe. This truck, stop home cooked, feeling that you can find in cafes in Canada. Now he’s opened a second restaurant. That’s just as successful as the first. He’s becoming quite well known in Tarragona. People often come up to him in the street and say, hi, something that feels strange for him. But he likes the way this feels

[00:20:16] Clive:

[00:20:17] I’d like to think that I’m laying roots here now I feel more comfortable here than I ever have in my whole life.

[00:20:25] there’s a, there’s a, there’s a sentence in one of my songs. Um, I’ve never felt like, I’ve never felt I belong. I’m forever the guest. And, this is basically how I’ve lived my life, but now I’m beginning to feel a little bit more comfortable.

[00:20:45] Bree: Clive has always been searching for new experiences and human connection. And he’s finally found it for now, at least And to close out today’s podcast. I would like to share a very special song with you.

[00:21:03] Apart from being a chef Clive is also a musician.

[00:21:06] And when he played the song for me after telling his story, honestly, I cried a little bit. It reflects on his journey of 50 years with all its ups and downs. And it reminds us that as time passes, we grow and change, but there’s always a part of us that remains the same.

[00:21:29] Clive: 30 years today, I set out on my way. I didn’t know what fate had in store.

[00:21:43] I left my home, the farm, it was hard, but it, it didn’t know harm. 50 years has gone. Well it’s gone away.

[00:21:57] 50 years has gone away.

[00:22:05] 50 years has gone away.

[00:22:12] I took a breath that day for what may come my way. Oh man. I shed some tears and then I ran.

[00:22:26] But I don’t regret a thing because who you are is in your skin. That little boy was gone, I was a man.

[00:22:41] Fifty years has gone away.

[00:22:48] 50 years has gone today.

[00:22:55] I’ve sailed the seven Seas. I’ve trekked rivers, fields, and streams. Climbed stairs of men a long time gone. And I’ve tried to see the light, but the darkness is always shining bright.

[00:23:22] That farm a long time gone, only memory in this song.

[00:23:29] In the mirror that little boy smiles, it’s evident for me to see, that little boy, that little boy is me,

[00:23:55] 50 years has passed for me. 50 years has passed for

[00:24:09] Bree: I will leave you a link to Clive in our show notes page, where you can find more information about his restaurants and his music. If you enjoy today’s episode, then share it with a friend who is learning English. And if you’d like to support the show, then please leave us a five star rating and review. It helps so much. Okay until next time, I hope that you have a good time or at least a good story to tell. 

Quote of the episode

“I’ve never felt like I belong. I’m forever the guest.” 

– Clive

Words & expressions of the episode

In order of appearence in the episode.

* Key vocabulary mentioned in the episode


Strip (strip of road): A strip is a long, narrow piece of something. In this context, a “strip of road” means a small, narrow road. For example, “The strip of road leading to the school was surrounded by cornfields” or “We used to live on the quiet strip of road.”

Pantry: A pantry is a small room or cupboard where people store food and kitchen supplies. For example, “The pantry is where we keep our cereal, canned goods, and snacks” or “I need to check the pantry for some ingredients.”

Brasseries: Brasseries are restaurants or eateries that serve a variety of foods, including simple and hearty dishes. It’s a type of restaurant. For instance, “Let’s have dinner at the brasserie down the street” or “The brasserie is known for its delicious French cuisine.”

The Strand / Broadway: The Strand or Broadway is a famous street in a big city where there are many theaters, shops, and entertainment options. For example, “We watched a Broadway show last night” or “The Strand is always bustling with tourists.”

To run a business: To run a business means to manage and operate a company or establishment. For instance, “She runs a successful bakery in town” or “Running a business requires careful planning and hard work.” 

Gamble (a gambling addict): To gamble means to play games of chance with money at stake. A gambling addict is someone who has a strong addiction to gambling. For example, “He likes to gamble at the casino on weekends” or “She struggled with her gambling addiction for years.”

You Live and You Learn: This phrase means that as you go through life, you gain knowledge from your experiences, especially from your mistakes. It suggests that making errors is a normal part of life and can lead to personal growth. For instance, “I messed up my first presentation, but you live and you learn,” or “Don’t worry too much about making mistakes; remember, you live and you learn.”

*To talk yourself into (something) / To talk your way into something: To talk yourself into something can mean to convince yourself to do it through persuasive words. For instance, “She talked herself into going on the roller coaster even though she was scared”. Today, Clive talks about it as to talk yourself into (something): To talk your way into an opportunity means to use persuasive language or arguments to convince someone to give you an opportunity or to gain access to something, especially when it might not have been initially offered. For example, “He talked himself into getting a job interview by impressing the hiring manager with his skills” or “She talked herself into a VIP event by convincing the organizers that she belonged there.”

To get on / to get off the yachts: To get on means to board or enter a yacht, while to get off means to leave or disembark from a yacht. For example, “We got on the yacht for our vacation” or “They got off the yacht and explored the island.”

Seasickness: Seasickness is a feeling of nausea or discomfort caused by the rocking motion of a boat on the sea. For instance, “Many passengers experienced seasickness during the storm” or “To prevent seasickness, try to focus on the horizon.”

Horrendous: Horrendous means something is extremely unpleasant or terrible. For example, “The storm last night was horrendous; it damaged our roof” or “The traffic during rush hour is always horrendous.”

To be at sea: To be at sea means to be on the ocean or traveling on a boat. For instance, “We were at sea for a week during our cruise” or “Being at sea gives you a sense of freedom.”

Slashing (we came slashing down): Slashing means moving quickly and forcefully, often in a downward motion. For example, “The roller coaster came slashing down the track” or “The rain was slashing against the window.”

A lick of something (“They didn’t speak a lick of English”): A lick of something means a small amount or a tiny bit. It’s an old-fashion expression in American English. For instance, “He didn’t eat a lick of his vegetables” or “She didn’t understand a lick of what he said.”

*Pinnacle: Pinnacle refers to the highest point or peak of something, often used to describe achieving success or excellence. For example, “Winning the championship was the pinnacle of his career” or “Reaching the summit of the mountain was the pinnacle of our hike.”

A taster: A taster is a person who samples or tastes food or drinks to check the flavor or quality. For instance, “The chef asked the taster to try the soup and give feedback” or “I worked as a taster for a chocolate company.”

To do 200–250 people at lunch (to serve / to cook for): This means preparing food for and serving meals to a large number of people during lunchtime. For example, “The restaurant can do 200 people at lunch without any issues” or “The catering service cooked for 250 guests at the wedding.”

Pack my bag: To pack my bag means to put personal items and belongings into a bag or suitcase for travel or a change of location. For instance, “I need to pack my bag for our weekend trip” or “He packed his bag with clothes and essentials.”

To figure something out: To figure something out means to understand or solve a problem or mystery. For example, “It took me a while to figure out the puzzle” or “Can you help me figure out how this works?”

To reluctantly do something: To reluctantly do something means to do it with hesitation or unwillingness. For instance, “She reluctantly agreed to attend the meeting” or “He reluctantly cleaned his room when his parents insisted.”

A meager offer: A meager offer refers to a small or insufficient proposal, often in terms of money or value. For example, “He made a meager offer for the antique painting” or “The seller rejected the meager offer.”

*To rip it apart and rebuild something: This means to completely dismantle and reconstruct something, often referring to buildings or structures. For instance, “They had to rip apart the old house and rebuild it due to extensive damage” or “He decided to rip apart the old engine and rebuild it from scratch.”

To memorize: To memorize means to learn and remember something by heart, such as information or lines from a play. For example, “She had to memorize the entire script for the play” or “I need to memorize these important dates.”

To pray to God: To pray to God means to communicate or express one’s thoughts, hopes, or requests to a higher power or deity, often in a spiritual or religious context. For instance, “She would pray to God for strength during difficult times” or “He prayed to God for guidance.”

Who is this guy?: This phrase is used to express surprise or curiosity about someone’s identity. For example, “When he showed up at the party uninvited, everyone wondered, ‘Who is this guy?'” or “Who is this guy with all the fancy clothes?”

To be a novelty: To be a novelty means to be unique or unusual, often attracting attention or curiosity. For instance, “Having a pet monkey is a novelty in our neighborhood” or “His quirky inventions always become a novelty at the science fair.”

*Relentless: Relentless describes something that is continuous, persistent, or unyielding in its effort or pursuit. For example, “His relentless dedication to his studies paid off with excellent grades” or “The relentless rain continued for days.”

*To belong: To belong means to be a part of a group, place, or community where one feels accepted and connected. For instance, “She finally found a place where she felt she belonged” or “Belonging to a supportive team

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Episode images

Chef Clive professional photo

Chef Clive in one of his multiple restaurants

Clive Sharrocks, the owner and chef of the hugely popular Chef Clive café in Tarragona, Spain, has lived an unconventional and adventurous life. From opening businesses in different countries to working as a chef on private jets and yachts, Clive has always been searching for new experiences and human connection.

You can find out more about Clive here. And if you ever visit North East Spain, don’t miss Tarragona and the Chef Clive Experience: Link to Google maps