The Weekender Interview: Francesco Mazzei

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Francesco Mazzei Sartoria, Radici, Fiume
Francesco Mazzei is one of the UK's best known Italian chefs. Born in Calabria, Mazzei made his name at City restaurant L'Anima but now runs three restaurants in partnership with D&D London: Sartoria, Radici and the more recently opened Fiume in Battersea.

What image do you currently have on your phone’s wallpaper?
Lobster & Gattò ​(Mazzei's striking dish of mashed potato with butter, cheese and breadcrumbs with lobster). 

What was your first job?
Making gelato with my uncle.

Gordon or Marco? 
Both!

What was the last film you saw in the cinema? 
La Vita Bella. It was nearly a decade ago.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
Gelato. 

Where are you going on your next holiday? 
Croatia.

What industry figure do you most admire (and why)? 
Silvano Giraldin, he is the master of front of house, everyone focuses on chefs but without people like Silvano we would be nothing.

If you weren’t in restaurants, what would you do? 
I’d be in the army.

Biggest regret?
No regrets.

Pet hate?
The disrespect of elders.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
You deserve a Michelin star.

Marmite: love it or hate it?
Never tried it.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Mamma cooking, chef hands. Sorry that’s four.

What country do you next want to visit?
Brazil.

Most overrated food?
Anything tinned.

Restaurant czar for a day – what would you implement?
A ban on McDonald’s.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Never had one – the worst has been three stars.

What made you want to become a chef?
It was never my plan but I’m glad it panned out the way it did.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Aubergine timballo.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Don’t want any TV cooking shows. Get your head down, get in a proper kitchen and work.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My knives.

iPhone or Android?
iPhone.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My first master told me ‘humility is virtue for a chef’.

What’s your earliest memory?
Making my first cake for my little sister.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Home with my kids and family.

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram.

Tipple of choice?
Negroni del Mazzei, which was created by the mixology master Simone Caporale, for my Islington restaurant Radici.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Anything cooked by my mother.

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