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Love Italian Life Profile
Name: Francesco Mazzei
Place of birth: Cerchiara di Calabria, Italy
Born: October 24 1973
Restaurant: Sartoria, Mayfair, London
Chef Francesco Mazzei is considered one of the top Italian chefs in London where Italian food lovers have enjoyed his southern Italian recipes on flagship TV shows BBC Saturday Kitchen, MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen with Italian chef Carlo Cracco.
Born and raised in Calabria, Francesco is a proud advocate of Southern Italian food specialities and is famously good friends with Oscar nominated Italian American actor and cookbook author Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada & The Hungar Games). Francesco has also worked with Pizza Express to create the spiciest pizza on their Menu, The Calabrese and advised the Calabrian government on how to promote their artisan goods in the UK.
Francesco is now the Chef Patron at the restaurant Sartoria in Savile Row, Mayfair, London which made it to the finals of the Love Italian Life Awards 2018 category for The Best Authentic Italian Restaurant in London.
In this exclusive interview Francesco talks to Love Italian Life about the inspiration behind his dishes and his earliest memories of cooking in Italy.
Love Italian Life:What is your earliest memory of cooking in Italy and what did you make?
Francesco Mazzei:When I was 8 years old, I made my very first hazelnut ice-cream for my uncle’s ‘gelateria’ (ice-cream parlour). It’s been my favourite ice-cream flavour ever since.
Love Italian Life:What’s the inspiration behind your dishes?
Francesco Mazzei:My family life in Calabria. Even today, we still make everything ourselves, from homemade pasta and cheese to ‘salami’ along with fresh bread that we bake daily. When you are brought up surrounded by such a strong food culture, it’s impossible not to get inspired.
Love Italian Life: How do you think the typical British diet compares to the Italian/Mediterranean life?
Francesco Mazzei: The southern Italian diet is very much olive oil based, a major difference with the British diet. It all comes down to the weather and seasons – it makes sense for Mediterranean food to be healthier and lighter. When it’s 40 degrees outside in summer, it would be impossible to feel energised after a big red meat based lunch!
“You should never worry about experimenting with cooking”.
Love Italian Life:What do you think it is about Italian food that has such an enduring appeal?
Francesco Mazzei:It’s all about balance and finding the right combination.
“When you are brought up surrounded by such a strong food culture, it’s impossible not to get inspired.”
Love Italian Life: How important is the connection between the Italian family and food?
Francesco Mazzei:One wouldn’t exist without the other.
Love Italian Life:What advice can you share with consumers wanting to cook traditional Italian food but are worried about how it will turn out?
Francesco Mazzei: You should never worry about experimenting with cooking, it’s one of the biggest pleasures in life. My recommendation is to never give up and keep trying until you get the perfect dish for you. But never try new recipes on guests if you haven’t made them before!
Love Italian Life:With so many Italian restaurants in the UK, why should passionate Italian Food lovers choose to dine at Sartoria in London?
Francesco Mazzei:Because we are making authentic, simple Italian cuisine with a twist prepared with the finest ingredients which are rustic and sophisticated at the same time.