Giles Coren and Monica Galetti experience the warm embrace of Fogo Island Inn on a rocky, sea-sprayed outpost of remote Fogo Island in Newfoundland.
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All over the world there are remarkable hotels,
born of bold vision and daring endeavour.
(Oh, my goodness, look at that.)
Whether it's an epic structure housing a sky park the length of
the Eiffel Tower...
This is definitely the biggest space I've ever been inside.
..or a glass box perched in the cloud forest.
-Look at that view.
They're all products of innovation, creativity and hard graft.
The people running these hotels strive to create
the perfect sanctuary.
But what does it take to offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences
in stunning locations?
To build a hotel in a place like this,
everybody thinks I'm crazy.
In total, we have about 160,000 pieces of uniform.
-Oh, my word.
I'm a restaurant writer, newspaper columnist and critic -
I have opinions on just about everything.
What a mad place to build a hotel.
I feel like Scott of the Antarctic, and it did not end well for him.
And I'm a chef, who's worked at the top end of the hospitality industry
for well over 20 years.
How many opportunities do you get to cook breakfast
with elephants and giraffes?
We'll travel to amazing hotels in every corner of the world...
..to spend time getting to know the people working away
behind the scenes.
When did you last have a full night's sleep?
-I don't remember.
What motivates you to work so hard?
-I'll sacrifice everything for them.
Join us as we venture inside...
..the world's most extraordinary hotels.
This is Fogo Island,
and it feels very far away.
It's taken us two days of travel by air, road,
and sea to get to this remote, rocky outpost.
Perched off the east coast of Canada, and above Newfoundland,
Fogo is a tiny island,
only 15 miles long,
with the weather extremes of a continent.
It can hit 25 degrees here in the summer,
but in winter the sea freezes over.
There are 11 small communities dotted across the island,
people from Europe having settling here in the 18th century
for one reason and one reason only -
the abundant supply of cod.
At first glance, and indeed at second and third glance,
Fogo looks barren and inhospitable,
so why would anyone want to build a hotel on these storm-lashed rocks at
the very edge of the world?
Especially one that's expensive, exclusive,
and at a cost of over £20 million.
Wow. Well, I, erm...
I wasn't expecting that.
It doesn't look an awful lot like a hotel, but just huge and angular.
Amazing. It really does stand out from the landscape.
I think it's, sort of, beautiful.
The Fogo Island Inn is the brainchild of Zita Cobb
and her family.
It's a passionate, personal project,
but Zita humbly refers to herself as the innkeeper.
Now, what is that umbrella doing?
We're going to hide it in the closet.
You only need them when it's raining,
and, until then, they're just litter,
and they need to be hid away in the closet,
and never opened up inside.
This is Zita's first foray into the hotel business.
We, at our inn, we don't have a rule book.
We practise hospitality, you know, in a way that doesn't seem like
it's professional, in the industry sense of the word,
but it's entirely natural
and entirely human.
-Welcome to the Fogo Island Inn.
Thank you. Oh, I like the looks of that fire.
Oh, it's nice and warm in here.
'Coming in from the fierce cold, this place feels
'cosy and welcoming.'
'There are 29 rooms, and the inn employs 110 members of staff.
'The impressive dining room has two walls of glass that offer
'spectacular views out across the Atlantic.'
'A room here costs between £1,000 and £2,500 per night.
'This place is not only the most expensive hotel on the island,
'it's the only hotel on the island.'
And here is your key, sir.
-Thank you very much.
'We'll be staying in guest rooms,
'before being immersed into hotel life.'
Wow. Look at that view.
'The ancestors of some of the staff here came from the southern coast of
'England and the west of Ireland over 300 years ago,
'and they speak with the island's unique local accent -
'part Canadian, part Dorset, with an Irish twang for good measure,
'it can take a bit of getting used to.'
-A lot of people ask if we're twins, or sisters.
We get that a lot,
and, as you see, we finish one another's sentences a lot,
and we even go sync mopping together,
because we're that much alike that we can do that together, so...
'Now, in case you didn't catch that,
'people often ask these eighth-generation islanders,
'Lori and Cynthia, if they're twins.
'but they are sisters who finish each other's sentences.
'Oh, and they enjoy synchronised mopping.'
We actually walked in together, side-by-side,
and years later we're still side-by-side,
so, it's great - it's a great relationship.
We can work together really, really well,
so I like it, and I think she do, too, so...
Oh, yeah, loves it.
Everything was back from years ago.
We have Miss Zita to thank for that.
Zita's inspired by the old-time look,
and I think she hit it on the head when she designed these rooms.
Everything is beautiful,
from this tiny woodstove to the wallpaper to the chairs to the
Even I ain't got home-made quilts, and wallpaper.
Nobody has wallpaper in their house any more,
but this wallpaper was made for here and it's beautiful.
And the inn really does offer a place to put what we know.
Nearly everything here, from the furniture to the upholstery,
Zita's had locally made,
with the ambition of giving the Fogo vernacular a modern twist.
The result is a place that feels comfortingly familiar.
We've had guests say that,
"Actually, it's just like walking back into my grandmother's house."
And the view just tops it off.
Everyone's amazed with the view.
You get icebergs, whales jumping out of the water...
It's a whale, or possibly an island.
Peaceful. Something I could sit down and watch all day.
Oh, look, there's a scarf here for me.
That is so sweet.
We'd go out of our way to please all of the guests,
and whatever they request, we try to make sure it's done for them.
It's a dictionary of Newfoundland English.
I'm not selecting these -
I'm literally putting my finger on the first word I see.
This one is scrubber -
"A board or fender bar along the side of a boat or vessel
"to protect the hull from scraping."
Hence the expression in Newfoundland,
"You won't get far around here without a scrubber."
"Hot ass - a tin kettle with a large, flat bottom
"and sides tapering to the top."
That is genius. So, I can call down to reception,
"Can you send up a couple of hot asses?"
This is really pretty.
Oh, look, here we go.
Made by Millicent Dwyer, 2015, on Fogo Island.
That is so sweet.
We've had some famous people,
and I'm sure we'll have more.
We've had politicians, and Hollywood movie stars, yes, we've had,
but I shall not say the names.
'Sorry, Cynthia, but I've looked it up, and it was Gwyneth Paltrow,
'a couple of months ago.'
You need to see this. You need to see this.
I mean, I'm not a loo fetishist. I wouldn't normally bother, but...
I do love a lavatory that says hello when you walk into the room.
We want the chair inviting to sit in, so we pouf it up.
Oh, my goodness.
Oh, that is so soft and comfortable.
Yeah, I'm right at home here.
It's a great job. Some people don't look at housekeeping as a great job,
but I do - I love it at housekeeping.
-I love cleaning, so...
-But it's not like cleaning your own home.
-No, it's not. It's different.
There's no baggage.
That's our finished product, waiting for our guest.
Wouldn't you want to get in that bed? I would.
'If we're to understand why this Martian spacecraft on stilts
'has been built out here on the rocks, then the best person to ask
'is the architect, Todd Saunders.'
Do you do this often, come out here and have a fire?
Every now and then.
Every now and then I come out and have a cup of coffee
with some of the other people around.
And admire your handiwork?
I try to.
'Zita picked Todd both for his talent
'and because he's a local boy with local knowledge.'
I grew up here. I knew the scent, the smells, the berries,
the food we ate, I knew the type of people here,
and so I didn't need any explanation of what
-Newfoundland architecture could be.
Tell me about the stilts.
That's a bit of a homage to the past.
All of the buildings are built on little stilts,
cos they didn't have sand here, actually, to do concrete,
and the fishermen didn't have time to make foundations,
so the fastest way to do it was to just put them on
these wooden poles, make a flat level,
and then build the building above it.
They're not all straight.
Some of them are at angles
-Is that an aesthetic thing?
It was a bit...the way they always did them.
They never did them perfectly straight -
it was more a haphazard thing.
So, the buildings actually have this amphibious quality to them,
and they look like they're half on land and half in the water.
'In 2008, this exposed location was chosen for the inn.
'Construction began with steel, concrete, and black spruce,
'a design built to withstand the test of time and weather.
'The inn took three years to complete,
'using around 70% locally-sourced materials,
'and the 450 passionately committed people involved in realising
'the project all had to adhere to one golden rule -
'it had to feel familiar, but modern.'
There's a special feeling about a Newfoundland home,
and we couldn't put our finger on it.
We said, "You know, everything on
"this island was from this island before."
So we said, "OK, everything in this inn will be made on the island."
So everything is made out of the workshop just up the road.
Were you made on the island?
-I was about an hour away from here.
In the back-seat of a Volkswagen Beetle.
Hello, how are you?
'Todd's architecture is clearly having an impact.
'The inn has only been open a few years,
'and already there are returning guests.
'Janet Fitzpatrick, a psychiatrist from the mainland,
'is on her eighth visit.'
I come here and there's just a peace that comes over me.
As soon as I walk in this inn, I feel...
-..I can breathe.
And you speak very highly of the people that are here.
-The people are fantastic...
-..and they love this island.
Everybody here loves where they live.
You come and stay here for a few days and you understand that -
you understand that feeling.
I mean, the thing I really hope that every person that comes to
the inn gets a really strong sense of is place -
place, place, place.
Zita's ambition for the inn is to reflect everything that's special
about this island in terms of nature and culture,
right down to the food.
Our job is to do our best to put Fogo Island on a plate.
Our food should taste like Fogo Island.
'I want to discover what the island's specialties are
'and how the kitchen is using them...'
Can I get a quick run for table 21, please?
'..so I'm joining the two chefs entrusted by Zita to uphold
'her local culinary vision,
'for lunchtime service.
It's a happy, loving kitchen.
'..and Tim Charles.'
It's going to get some kale.
-Is this for three? So, I want enough kale for three, as well?
It feels good to be doing something I know.
'It doesn't take long before I find out
'just what's so special about this island.
'What looks at first glance like a barren landscape is
'an incredible larder of wild ingredients,
'right under the nose of the inn.'
Look at that.
The hotel's just there, and you've got juniper out here.
It's right underneath the dining room.
'Unbelievably, there are 16 varieties of edible berry
'growing wild here on Fogo, but the boys want to show me
'by far the most important food here that encapsulates the island -
We'll receive them like this, and then we'll
break them down into portions,
and then we'll take and trim bits, and use them that way.
I love cod, as well - it's one of my favourite fish.
It's the reason why everyone's on the island in the first place -
they came for the fish and they stayed for the fish.
-Put it all over the rim.
All over the rim?
That's one of my pet hates!
That's it, you and I, we're over.
-Yeah, delete my number off your phone.
'Both Tim and Ian are from mainland Canada,
'and Zita knows they bring in valuable skills to the inn.'
There's a whole bunch of things we just don't know,
and, with every person that comes to this island,
they bring a whole other world -
a whole other, kind of way, of knowing that is new
and makes us stronger.
'The inn overlooks traditional fishing grounds,
'but it's at the mercy of the weather.
'They say there are seven seasons on Fogo,
'and this building must endure sub-zero temperatures,
'hurricane winds, downpours, and burning sunshine.
'The man battling to stop the place from being consumed by the elements
'is maintenance supremo Don Paul, who's also from the mainland.'
Now, that's salt water in the air, I would say.
'Don's going to show me how he keeps the inn
'from succumbing to the weather -
'as long as he's got a pair of wellies in my size.'
Can I fill your boots, Don? That's the question.
I'd be really appreciative if you could.
-Do you think I'd be genuinely helpful?
-What are we doing?
-Oh, truly. You're going to need this.
-I'm going to get wet, you're saying?
Better to be looking at it, as I always say, than looking for it.
-How do I look?
-You look great.
I wouldn't want my Savile Row tailored shirts to get
-crust on them.
'Today, we're concentrating on the sea spray that sticks to the windows
'and must be scraped off continually
'so that guests can enjoy a crust-free view.'
So, in this game, it's all about length, is it?
Length is what it is all about when you've got to go reach for the top.
GEORGE FORMBY: # Now I go cleanin' windows
# To earn an honest bob
# For a nosy parker It's an interesting job... #
GILES: # It's a job that just suits me
# A window cleaner you would be
# If you could see what I can see
BOTH: # When I'm cleaning windows. #
It's hard on the neck. I think this is the hardest part of the job.
It must be a thankless task.
The ocean is there, just depositing salt,
and all you can do is keep wiping it away.
That's job security.
Ha! It is. I guess it is.
Does a building of this sort present particular problems?
Well, in the wind, it can...
The wind shear can actually remove boards.
We've got a few loose boards that rattle that we have to keep nailing
down, and battening the hatches.
And once we had a skylight come adrift,
-which was a bit of a problem, so...
What's that? Shoddy building work in the first place?
Well, I can't say that. I think...
Yes, you can.
No, it wasn't.
-Good, I'm glad to hear it.
It just was that the screws broke in the wind.
It was a hurricane.
I mean, basically, is this like a frontiersman thing?
You know, out here, in the middle of nowhere, if you'll forgive me,
small population, not so many specialists...
-You have to basically be able to do everything?
We have to, as Zita says, "treat this as a ship in the ocean",
and we have to have all our spare parts
-and all our skill sets in place.
-You're the engineer.
You're like Scotty in Star Trek, aren't you?
Precisely, I've been called that.
I see the comparison. Kind of heroic, keeping it all going...
IN SCOTTISH ACCENT: "She couldnae take any more, Jim!"
"The dilithium crystals are failing!"
So, when Zita says she wants you to go to warp factor seven...
"You cannae change the laws of physics!"
-"You can't, but you have to find a way to do it, laddie."
So, Don, you haven't got that Irish twang.
You haven't got anything Newfie about the way you speak,
so, what, you're from the mainland, I guess?
I'm actually from the west coast of Canada.
I grew up in British Columbia in the mountains of the Kootenays.
-So how did you come to be here?
-Well, simply put, I fell in love.
Not only with the island,
but when I first came here on a visit,
I walked into the Partridgeberry Harvest Festival
and my eyes met with this wonderful artist, M'Liz Keefe,
who was here, and it was love at first sight.
I know they say it's not...but it truly happens.
'Don and M'Liz were recently married -
'a cause for celebration for all at the inn.'
How long does it take to do the whole building?
You know, you'd be surprised. Just to do this bottom section,
like we've been going through, two guys can do it in two hours.
As long as one of the two guys isn't me, I suppose?
Well... Thank you, sir.
'On remote islands like Fogo,
'it's important to be as self-sufficient as possible -
'not just in terms of the skills needed to live here,
'but also when it comes to sourcing food.
'One islander who supplies the kitchen
'with his home-grown vegetables is Norm Foley, whose Irish ancestors
'settled here in the 18th century.
'But how do you grow crops in this landscape?
'I've been told that Norm employs a weird technique
'involving small fish called capelin.'
One, two, three...
Very important food around here, capelin.
The ocean comes alive when the capelin comes in on our shore.
The codfish would never come - only for the capelin.
And you're using it as fertiliser?
I'm using it as fertiliser.
-And this is an ancient way?
This is the way my dad and my grandfather and so on and so forth.
Burying fish in the garden.
There's a first for everything.
'And it works -
'Norm produces an abundant crop of kale, carrots, potatoes,
Wiggle back and forth.
'..some of which make their way onto the plates of
'the diners at the inn.'
This is the real test.
Come on, you're not...
-I've got it!
-Put some muscle into it!
I wants to grab that some bad....
No, you can't! It's mine.
Yeah! Look at that.
-Did you ever see the like of that?
'But it's not just gardening that connects Norm to the Fogo Inn -
'he's also a community host, looking after guests that stay there.
'It's a venture set up by Zita that aims to showcase
'the island's culture and its people.
'Locals from all walks of life - the quilt makers,
'the boat builders, even fishermen - act as island hosts...'
You just keep the...keep the same depth, and just back and forth.
'..befriending guests and making them feel part of the Fogo family.'
It's like putting everything we know into something -
believing deeply in ourselves, but hoping that others in the world
see the value in our culture,
see merit in what we have to tell, or say, or show.
Someone actually asked how much we get paid to act this way,
and we said, "No, this is just natural.
"This is the Newfoundland way."
It's putting yourself out there in a really, kind of, big way,
as a community.
For Zita, the inn is an extension of the island.
Girls, does it get better than this?
But all is not quite what it seems.
What looks like a paradise to guests on holiday is actually a community
facing very real challenges.
The population of Fogo has been in decline.
There used to be 6,000 people living here,
but in a few decades the number has fallen to below half that.
Housekeeper Cynthia has brought her children up on the island,
but her eldest daughter now lives miles away on the mainland...
..and is expecting twins.
-Just like a basketball.
No matter how hard she tries,
Cynthia can't tempt her daughter back to Fogo.
Oh, I'd love for her to come back,
then there'd be more people for the island,
cos we don't want the island to be, like, just a retirement home.
We wants the young people to come back to keep the place going,
and that's what we need, is young people,
because we don't want the island to die.
We wants the island to survive and keep going.
All righty, we've got to go back to work. We're on break.
-All right. Bye.
Simply put, not enough young families are staying on Fogo
to raise their children.
This island is facing an uncertain future.
So, why would Zita build an inn here?
And what's driving her ambition?
She has, after all, invested millions of dollars of her own
money into the project.
She gets talked about an awful lot -
she's a visionary, she's some sort of prophet -
and there's a bit of a cult of personality.
It's like the Wizard of Oz.
I hope... I hope she measures up.
The whole project, really, I suppose is, kind of,
built around two sentences.
"Nature and culture are the two great garments of human life" -
The second sentence,
"Every human being should get up in the morning,
"look at the world, and try to see it as whole."
You can taste these.
I mean, these are absolutely edible.
-You see, they have...
-Quite a bland flavour, probably.
-Like a very, very weak plum, isn't it?
Is it bad luck to pick berries in a graveyard?
'Zita is an eighth-generation islander,
'and her life here as a child had little to do with the modern ways
'of the mainland.'
I grew up here at a time that we had no running water,
and no electricity, and my parents couldn't read and write.
I mean, you're not talking about ancient history -
-you're talking about the late '60s, aren't you?
No electricity and no running water?
Exactly. When I was five, I got pretty sick, I had tuberculosis,
and I had to go away, and so I spent a year as a very young child
in a sanatorium on the other side of Newfoundland.
And it felt like being pulled up, really, by your roots,
and so to have been removed from the community
at such a young age,
I understood what the world feels like when you don't live embedded
in a community,
and, so, I've always, in my life, valued that more than anything.
Not long after Zita's return,
disaster struck the island she loved so much.
Decades of international overfishing brought cod to the brink of
extinction, and this simple fishing community to its knees.
Unable to survive, many families, including Zita's,
were forced to leave the island.
My father had to let go of this place.
The collapse of the fishery just about killed him,
and moving away really did literally kill him.
And so, they...they moved away, and...
and I went off to university, and then he died.
So many people left during that time that the population had almost
no chance of recovery, until the little girl who so loved her island
hatched a plan to rescue it.
I've always wanted to come home,
and so when the opportunity presented itself,
that I was at a place in my career where I could retire,
and I had more money than I needed for a life.
What had you been doing?
I was the chief financial officer of a technology company
in the fibre optics industry.
And how much is "more than you could need"?
Enough to build that inn.
And build that inn she did,
gifting it to the island through a charitable foundation so that all
profits go back into local projects to create jobs
and help the community.
So, taking money that I had, that was more than enough,
and bringing it home, it seemed like the obvious thing to do.
What an amazing story - a little girl growing up with no electricity,
no water, on a windblown, rocky outcrop -
a place from fairy tales -
travelling across the sea to make her fortune,
tens of millions of dollars, by all accounts,
and coming back to save the island of her birth,
which was threatened with extinction.
Just the thing that makes me worry -
she's 58, she's not getting any younger -
there are huge pressures on any small hotel business to succeed,
but this place has the hopes of a whole community resting on it.
Wherever you go around the island and the inn,
you can't help but notice the influence of fishing.
We have been here for centuries as people of the sea,
as fishing people.
And cod is, of course, the focus of most conversations at mealtime.
And there's the livers.
I've never had cod offal for breakfast.
-It looks amazing.
In its heyday, cod fishing around here was worth
over £100 million a year,
but big boats from other countries plundered the sea,
leaving nothing for the islanders.
To prevent extinction a cod fishing ban became law in 1992.
The cod survived and are now flourishing,
and the islanders can fish for them once again,
but with strict quotas in place.
Several local fishermen have special licences to supply cod
to the inn every week, such as Glen and Jerry Best.
You can't get a better fish than cod,
so we're proud to flaunt it in front of all the tourists
that come and eat at the inn in the dining room.
It's a beautiful looking fish.
The skin is, like, a red colour,
and then you get some that are really white and grey.
In the dining room, guests enjoy the fillets of nearly 1,000
sustainably-caught cod each year.
To learn more about the returning cod industry that's nourished
the island for generations,
we're going to spend a morning with Glen, catching cod for the inn.
It smells quite strongly of fish, OK?
Just so that you know.
So, it's only right to dress for the occasion.
-Are you tough?
-Yeah, but I don't like the cold.
-You're not tough.
Like many fishermen here,
Glen's family normally fish for lucrative crab, shrimp, and turbot,
but his heart still belongs to the cod.
If I eat fish for my dinner in the inn tonight,
will it have been caught on this boat?
Possibly it could be caught on this boat -
might have been caught by these two hands.
The traditional way to catch it is by jigging bait,
like squid with a hook and line.
-You can feel it tugging on the line.
God, it's a long way down.
-There we go.
-Have you got one?
I think so.
Oh, wow, that's quite a big fish.
Oh, that's a nice size.
Look at that.
I've literally never caught anything in my life apart from a mackerel.
So, how much would you say that weighed, about 13 kilos?
-No way, 13 kilos.
That looks, like, eight.
-I'd say it's maybe six kilos.
Six kilos, or seven, so about 15lbs.
So, it's like both my children added together when they were born.
I don't know what a fuss my wife made about that, it's not that big.
Actually, it's quite heavy. Whoa!
Hello! Here we go. This is just so much fun.
I think it's fun because there are lots of fish and I don't know how
much it would be if I'd been here for three days getting nothing.
Wow, that's quite a big one, as well!
Yours is bigger, though, isn't it?
That is cool.
-There's another nice one.
-There we go.
-This is my third.
The Best family have been fishing these waters for nearly 200 years.
Fathers passing down the knowledge to sons.
Are you guys going to give me a hand to get this fish cleaned up now?
Or are you going to leave me with all of the work?
But a shadow now hangs over the family's future.
There you go, perfect.
The sole male heir to the operation, Glen's son Matthew,
has left Fogo and has no interest in fishing or carrying on the family
business. And for Glen, the implications are devastating.
He has been out fishing shrimp just to make some money for
university, but he hasn't shown any interest in actually taking over the
business. Like we've been doing it for five, six generations,
we could be the last.
Well, that's the end, and that would be pretty sad.
And it's not just Glen's son -
in recent years, many young people have moved away due to limited
opportunities on the island.
Zita fears that the ageing population
being left behind could be the last.
It's so dangerous,
because we're holding hands with the past as hard as we can.
People of my age, say, 50 and older.
And we are trying to hold hands with these young people.
We are half the population in numbers that we were 30 years ago.
What's going to happen over the next five to ten years?
The inn offers a huge range of job opportunities that provide an
alternative to fishing
which Zita hopes will stop people leaving the island.
Sometimes I look at it and I think, "Well, it's just a little inn,
"it's just a 29-room inn", but it holds a lot of dreams.
And fulfilling these dreams by making a success of the inn
is far from easy.
A successful hotel depends on attention to detail.
How are we doing with our people in room 29, with the baby?
I talked to them last night.
She's a vegetarian, but eats chicken.
Did we sort out how we're getting
-those people at two o'clock in the morning?
-I don't know.
It doesn't take much to lose your way.
When you lose your way a little bit it has a tendency to build.
And then if that takes hold then we'll lose our confidence.
Details, details, details, details, details.
Zita takes guest comments very seriously
and there's been a complaint about the food.
Oh, well, there were several issues with the breakfast.
One problem is the bread's all wrong.
You can't toast sourdough bread because it just turns into a weapon.
And the potatoes that were served on the plate were placed so haphazardly
that there was no indication of love in the way they were placed.
Every time you put something down that's an opportunity to show a
little extra care. No care was shown.
They looked like they were thrown at the plate.
And the bacon looked like it was in a microwave,
which I know it wasn't in a microwave,
because there's no microwave here at the inn.
So, I don't know how you make that microwave effect.
Ah, look, we have some more blue sky coming.
Can you come to ops tomorrow morning?
I had a whole bunch of breakfast comments.
-Yes, do you want to talk about that now?
Number one thing is we have to come up with a different toast.
Sourdough doesn't toast.
-Is it just too much?
-It's too hard, like, it's like a weapon.
Like, it hurts. And really we should have a classic
white Newfoundland toast.
When you're new to the exclusive hotel business, the slightest
mistake can hurt, and with so much resting on the inn
it just can't afford to lose its way.
So, Zita's asked locally born pastry chef Marlene Hancock to help improve
the breakfasts. Marlene's had an idea to create a new bread with an
ingredient found washed up on the shore -
a chunk of iceberg.
This is iceberg ice.
Ice that came down from way up north, thousands of years old.
You'd think it would taste salty because it's floating in
the salt water and the sea,
but it's not, it's very fresh water, very pure water.
Marlene's also adding seaweed.
This is the seaweed that actually washed up on the shore.
So, hopefully that's OK, if not, if I need more I'll add more.
And lastly, she puts in Fogo sea salt.
Natural salt right from the sea behind us.
A little bit of this, a little bit of that,
it's going to be a surprise, I guess.
It's nice when people try your product and say, "That is really good,"
it makes you feel good. It makes your job worthwhile.
But to have any chance of reaching the dining room, all food must
first pass Zita's taste test.
I love it.
-I really love it. You know,
this could be the only iceberg bread in the world.
That is like taking Fogo Island and putting it inside the bread.
I think, Marlene, you are 90% of the way there.
The only thing you have to change is bring on the seaweed.
-Up the seaweed?
-Up the seaweed.
-Yeah, I can do that.
I think it's a winner.
-It's so good.
THEY CHATTER AND LAUGH
The ancestors of housekeeping sisters Cynthia and Lori
settled on Fogo in the 19th century.
Theirs is one of many families for whom
the inn represents hope for a secure future.
They've invited me round to meet the clan and get a deeper understanding
of what makes family life so special here on Fogo.
It's very kind of them. I don't really know what to expect.
I'm just imagining it'll be a lot of good, clean fun.
Giles, just in time for a game of cards.
This is Mom, Marie.
-Hi, Marie, nice to meet you.
-This is sister Lori.
Your sister? Your mom?
Yes. My sister, Sharon.
-You're having me on?
-No, I'm not!
-Work sister Colleen.
-Work sister, honorary sister.
I introduced you, do you know everyone's name?
Yes, that's Mom,
sister, sister, sister, and work sister Mary.
I do know all the kings of England from 1066.
Sharon and Nancy.
Is it normal that there are so many of you altogether?
Is that a normal Newfoundland family?
Is Newfoundland just three families, or something?
Everyone is a brother and sister.
-Is it like Greece?
-Years ago that was the thing, big families,
but not so much these days.
When we grew up there were kids everywhere.
12 in our family.
-She got 12.
-You're one of 12?
Seven boys and five girls, yes.
I don't know whether I want to ask, "Why did they do that?"
or, "Why did they stop?"
Cold, lonely winters.
You weren't expected to survive the winters?
What happened when all of these ones lived?
Was the plan, were you are only meant to end up with two or three?
And then life expectancy went up.
And here you all are.
So, you play cards together every night?
No, like, once a week we usually get together down at Mom's.
Usually on a Monday night or a Tuesday night.
Four of these sisters work at the inn.
The alternatives would be the local fish plant or life on the mainland.
So, I can really see how the inn is holding the community together.
What on earth are you drinking?
Did you put a leprechaun in a blender?
What on earth is that?
It's bubble gum flavour mouthwash.
It's a great honour being treated as one of the girls,
but before I know what's hit me Cynthia has shanghaied me into a
traditional rowing race.
So, Giles, do you row a punt?
I beg your pardon.
-Do I what a what?
-Row a punt.
-You don't, so, do you know what I mean when I say row a punt?
I know punting, I know about a punt, you do that with a stick and a pole.
No, no, this is with two paddles, and it's, like, two in a...
This is rowing?
Yes. But are you good, like, are you strong?
I'm not sure about this punting business.
And not only am I expected to row a boat like a local,
now I'm being pressured into becoming a local
with a bizarre initiation ceremony.
So, the first thing you have to do is repeat what I say exactly.
That's not too bad, actually.
Then I will give you something to taste.
So, this is supposed to cleanse your body from the inside out,
and your throat, and your eyes, and your soul.
They say it's really bad, but it's not that bad.
They say the same about you.
-Down the hatch!
-He's a good old sport.
So, then, just before you become an official Newfoundlander,
you've got to do one more thing.
This is codfish.
And you have to adore him and kiss him right on the mouth.
-No, it's all right, I cut the tongue out,
so you won't get the tongue.
Pucker up, pucker up, baby.
Thank you very much.
You're welcome. Give us a hug.
Allow me to say, ladies, time to shut up and deal the cards.
ALL: All right!
Bring it on.
As part of the mission to get the island thriving,
an annual rowing race takes place using local boats called punts.
It's normally a brutal four-hour event held in open water for
-Giles, you're in the back.
-OK, do I go in first?
Right here first, yeah, watch, it could be slippery.
But Cynthia assures me that this morning's mixed doubles race will be a far more sedate affair.
I hope you're not all talk, because I've got no idea how to do this.
No, I'm going to show you, and you're going to win.
Today is a trial event for locals
and any interested guests at the inn.
So novices like me are welcome.
And I've jumped at the chance to partner with my new buddy, Norm.
-Yeah, not bad. You'll do.
Every single punt taking part has been built here on Fogo
in the traditional way.
This boat is for Zita, I hope she's going to win this race
cos my neck is on the line.
For generations, these punts have represented survival.
The only means of catching food to feed your family.
And in all that time, islanders have gained something of a reputation.
Winston Churchill himself said Newfoundlanders are the best small
-boatsmen in the world.
-Come on, Cynth, put some beef into it.
We'll get them.
The race is a way of preserving these historic boats and celebrating
the resourcefulness of the people who crafted them.
But by the looks of it the most important thing of all around here
-seems to be winning.
-Beating Giles by miles. Look.
That's a bit annoying.
He'll have an excuse, I'm sure.
Is my rope on right on there?
Cynthia, is that on right?
That's why I can't make it move.
It looks like we have a winner.
Oh, my word!
And Norm and I come a respectable fourth.
But what about Giles?
Cynthia and Giles, fifth placed team.
Give us a hug.
What was that, fifth place?
Yeah, well, we didn't cheat, because I didn't think it was in the spirit.
Fun and games over, Zita wants to show me a poignant reason
why it's so important the inn is a success.
It sort of is in a devotional pose.
And it looks right at Little Fogo Islands,
which you can see in the distance.
They form, kind of, a natural reef that protects big Fogo Island
from the worst of the North Atlantic.
Six miles off the northern tip of Fogo, lie tiny rocks,
called Little Fogo Islands.
Being even closer to the prize cod fishing grounds,
this is where Europeans first settled in the 18th century.
At one time, 375 people called this place their permanent home.
But when the fishing collapsed,
the community could no longer survive and every single family
was forced to abandon the island.
The pain of that is still with us.
And the people who lived there for centuries,
you still feel them out there.
There but for the grace of God goes big Fogo island,
and so it's kind of here that we want to keep our stand,
and that building, that's what it's trying to do.
So, without the inn, Fogo could go the same way.
Without the inn, it would be a lot harder to hold on.
I'm going to meet someone whose situation highlights the need
for the inn to be a success.
Glen Best's son, Matthew, is back from university for a rare visit.
Perhaps he can tell me why some of the younger generation are turning
their backs on lucrative island industries such as fishing.
Do you have any friends who are going into fishing?
No, not around my age, no, it's just not something...
I don't know, I guess things are changing.
I wouldn't be able to name anyone on the island
who's my age who's going fishing.
-No-one on the island?
-Not, not... No.
It seems to me you've got a thing where the fish are coming back
but the fishermen are disappearing.
It's pretty ironic, isn't it?
You've hit the nail on the head. That's the case.
Is the weight of history actually off-putting?
Instead of being a continuity that you want to take up,
is it actually a thing that makes it feel like a pressure?
I don't know if it was ever something that I really...
seemed like me, do you know what I mean?
Like, I don't feel like a fisherman.
It's kind of sad, obviously, cos it is a legacy, like you say, but,
you know, that's life.
Yeah, there you go.
So, it's a bit, it's a bit...
..emotional, I'd say.
You know, I didn't want to be a writer,
I wanted to do all sorts of other things,
and I didn't want to be a journalist, or present TV shows,
because that was what my dad did, and that seemed a bit pointless.
And then in my 20s, I started to think, "Maybe it's all right."
So, I'm not saying that it's going to happen,
but he does his engineering and he goes and builds aeroplanes
and rockets and goes to the moon or whatever,
and then in ten years' time he thinks,
"I'd quite like to go home," cos he clearly feels strongly about it.
"Maybe I want to go home and fish off the point."
It might happen.
-Give me some notice, will you?
I don't think Matthew and Glen have conversations like that very often.
I don't think they talk about it.
It's not thought through, it's raw emotion.
And I think of Zita, of the same generation as Glen,
trying to keep this island alive, trying to prop it up.
They're spinning plates -
"We've got to save the fishermen, we've got to save the people."
Who knows whether they can keep it up?
Every October, the Partridgeberry Festival
celebrates the island's variety of wild berries.
This year's event was one of the most memorable.
A few days ago, it hosted the wedding ceremony
of the inn's maintenance man, Don Paul, and his bride M'Liz.
I have a little bit of butterflies, but I'm so excited and happy.
Now, what do you think, how do I look?
For Zita, the inn and the island's future
must include more outsiders like Don and M'Liz.
It's not always easy to convince someone who lives in the big city
somewhere that they should move to this little island
that's far away from far away.
So, when someone chooses to make their home here, you know,
in some ways it's like an endorsement of us
and sort of affirms the things that we see in our place.
That is very moving.
Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious, or boastful,
or arrogant, or rude.
Yes, I do.
Around here, there's only one way to celebrate.
I love being married to M'Liz.
Zita wants to celebrate the fact that Don and M'Liz have decided
to make Fogo their future,
and that they're bumping up the island's population.
It's vital to recognise the commitment made by outsiders,
as living and working in such a remote place isn't for everyone.
In the kitchen, I learn that for Chef Tim working here
means living far from his young son.
I get to FaceTime.
When did you last see your boy?
Last... In the spring.
-This past spring.
-So, once a year, twice a year, maybe.
Chef Ian is also separated.
She's no longer here, but I still am, because I love it here.
-Where is she?
-She has moved back to Alberta,
so we have gone our separate ways, and this place is my new life.
Oh. I'm sorry about that.
If you're that passionate about something,
you're going to give it your all.
I've done something similar myself.
I left New Zealand, I've left family,
and I'm always homesick for them.
People say, "Why don't you just go back?"
It's because you're pursuing something that you love.
For Zita, it's vital to make a big fuss of people
when they choose this island to be their permanent home -
like throwing what islanders call a scoff, or feast,
in the dining room at the inn.
A scoff is a tricky thing to pull off because it has this kind of
unpredictable nature to it.
But we still want to do it in a way that has the precision that we have
fought so hard to accomplish.
-Yes, this one needs turning around.
-One, two, three.
It's only right that Giles and I pitch in to help with preparations.
Marlene and I are making jam tarts with spiced molasses pastry.
It smells amazing.
And the molasses, of course, which I'm a big fan of.
-And there's cinnamon.
-Cinnamon, as well.
And it's only fitting that we use partridgeberries
picked right in front of the inn.
-I like that.
-You're doing really well.
Not bad for a mainlander.
"Not bad for a mainlander?"
That's what I am, a mainlander?
And for the bride and groom, two personalised tarts.
After all, it is a scoff in honour of Don and M'Liz.
Made with love, there you go.
The scoff is a great chance for the kitchen to impress
with some of the more acquired tastes found on the island.
The groom's favourite food is goat,
so Chef Tim is picking one up from his local supplier.
All of these goats have been able to live outside and see the sun.
People have taken good care of them.
And when they are killed, they're going to be killed with respect.
I would rather we were serving these cows, though.
Oh, there we go!
It looks like the cow heard that.
The kitchen has pulled out all the stops
to put all things Fogo on the menu.
This is your beautiful goat.
We've got a goat.
-Thank you, thank you very much.
In keeping with Zita's inclusive sense of hospitality,
the scoff is not only for locals, but all guests staying at the inn.
You know, we just got in today, and we were asked,
just out of the blue, to attend a wedding.
You just mingle. I mean, there's nobody that you don't talk to,
there's nobody you don't know within five minutes of being in here.
You know, that's why you feel part of the family here,
coming to a wedding where it seems so intimate, right?
And they don't know us from anything. And, so, it is so neat.
It's spectacular, yeah.
-Thank you, Marlene.
Here are a couple of molasses jam tarts that
Monica and I made for you both.
-Thank you so much, Marlene.
While the party carries on, we're being ushered upstairs
and pressed into joining what seems to be some sort of freakish cult.
This is not going to hurt a bit, OK?
Whatever we can... Claire?
This is a custom called mummering.
It was brought here in the 1820s from England and Ireland.
Traditionally, mummers would turn up uninvited and in disguise
to get a party started.
I can't believe I've spent time on this island, getting to know
these people, their lives and their hopes and their fears,
and the good things and the bad things, and we present them
to the world as this unique and exciting, living community...
and they've just revealed themselves to be a complete bunch of wackos.
I hope I'm not complicit in the mockery of an entire island.
I promise you, I promise you this was their idea.
I'm going to have nightmares about this for the rest of my life.
TRADITIONAL MUSIC PLAYS
Tradition dictates that the host of the party
must guess the identities of the mummers.
Now, who's this one?
Who is this one? I don't know about this one.
It's a funny one.
It is a lot of fun.
Possibly more fun than I expected.
I believe I've made some great friends for life.
The fact is that it isn't really just a hotel.
The inn is Fogo Island, and Fogo Island is the inn.
When you come and stay here, it's more even
than a window on a society,
it's like the looking glass in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
You pass through it and you become a fisherman, or a mummer, or a cook.
It's an experience unlike any I've ever had.
# I wanna go back
# When it's capelin time again... #
And around here, celebrations always end with a traditional song
about those little fish called capelin.
# ..And here again
# The lonely seagulls cry
# Oh, take me home
# Once more before I die... #
-You've been busy lately, huh?
-You have, too!
It's time to leave.
But before we do, the inn has one last surprise up its sleeve.
-This is Jake Daniel, and this is Luke Wilson.
Oh, my God,
Over on the mainland,
Cynthia's daughter has given birth to twin boys.
It's been lovely being introduced to Jake and Luke,
and I'm reminded that I have to go to see my babies,
and I'll see you again one day soon.
-Someday, hopefully, OK.
The Fogo Island Inn has had grandchildren.
It's amazing how involved everybody is.
It's a very lovely feeling.
But that's only part one of the job done.
The next thing is to get them to come and live here.
It's extraordinary that something as simple as a hotel can come to
symbolise the hopes of a community and its distinctive way of life.
I want to make sure that I do what I can
to hold on to who we are and remain relevant,
doing something that helps gives us
a shot at another 100 years here.
In the fifth episode of this eye-opening series, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti experience the warm embrace of Fogo Island Inn on a rocky, sea-sprayed outpost of remote Fogo Island in Newfoundland. White, angular and perched atop zig-zagged stilts like the local fishermen's houses, it pays homage to the European settlers that arrived from Ireland and Devon to fish cod - most islanders still have Irish or West Country accents. For years, cod was the primary source of income but overfishing saw stocks plummet, and a cod-fishing moratorium was put in place in the 1990s. The island's population subsequently shrank as families moved away in search of other work.
Delving beyond the lobby, Giles and Monica meet founder Zita Cobb, the little girl who grew up to be a multimillionaire and realise a dream to build a hotel that would revive her island home and its folklore. Her family has lovingly folded its rich heritage into a unique retreat for guests, including celebrities, from all over the world. Giles is initiated as an honorary Newfoundlander by eighth-generation sisters Cynthia and Lori, the inn's housekeepers, who rope him into a community boat race. Monica spends time with local guide Norm, who reveals surprising secrets of growing the perfect potato for use at the inn. Monica and Giles both help to put on a traditional Fogo Inn 'wedding scoff', resulting in unexpected mummification. Above all, they tell the poignant story of the fight to revive the island through the hotel.