Chef Francesco Mazzei
Master class: MEZZOGIORNO... Kuhinja južne Italije
Master class: MEZZOGIORNO... Cucina dell'Italia meridionale
Master class: MEZZOGIORNO... South Italian Cooking
Francesco Mazzei was born and raised in Calabria, the toe on Italy's boot and the region noted for producing n'duja (a spicy, spreadable pork sausage). Displaying an early interest in food, he was always to be found in the kitchen making olive oil, tomato sauce, bread and salami with his mother. Determined to buy his first Levis jeans and Nike shoes with his own money, at the age of eight Mazzei started working in his uncle’s Gelateria in Calabria, mastering the art of Italian cakes and gelatos by the age of nine. At fourteen he met renowned Italian chef Angelo Sabetta who recognised his talent and encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a chef.
Francesco’s culinary adventure started right after catering college when, at only 18, he opened his own fish restaurant. In 1992, Mazzei then moved to Rome and joined The Grand Hotel. Inspired by the international environment he found there, he left to learn English and ended up securing a job at The Dorchester in Mayfair working under the respected Willi Elsener and Henry Brosi before returning to Rome to take up a position at Michelin-starred Eden Terrazza. Mazzei has since opened the Santini restaurants in Edinburgh and Milan, the Royal Sporting Club in Bangkok, Franco’s on Jermyn Street and St Alban in London, as well as venues across the world alongside restauranteur Alan Yau.
At the age of 34, Francesco Mazzei opened L’Anima where he showcased dishes from Calabria, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. Forever an advocate of Southern Italian specialities, he returns home to seek out new products every two months and advises the Calabrian government on how to promote their artisan goods outside of the country. As ambassador for the citrus fruit bergamot and the spicy sausage n’duja, both of which are produced in the region, he is credited with single-handedly bringing the latter to the restaurants and dinner tables of Britain. Since 2007 he has appeared frequently on BBC shows including Saturday Kitchen and MasterChef, and is a regular at Taste of London festival, opportunities he uses to introduce creative applications of Calabrian ingredients to a wider audience.
In March 2015, Francesco Mazzei left L’Anima to join D&D’s Sartoria, creating a “temple of Italian cuisine”. His first cookbook Mezzogiorno: Francesco Mazzei Recipes from Southern Italy, was also published in autumn 2015, as yet another vehicle with which to showcase the edible delights of the region; he describes the recipes as “Mamma’s cooking with chef hands”.
In April 2017, Francesco also launched Radici, an authentic Italian trattoria in Islington, the area of London he has made his home. Furthermore, in November 2017 Francesco opened Fiume, a new modern Italian restaurant overlooking the Thames at Battersea Power Station.