When Great British Chef Francesco Mazzei suggested a cookathon with his old chum, actor and cookbook author Stanley Tucci, to be hosted by the Italian Consul General, Massimiliano Mazzanti . . . well, how could anyone resist? With Great Italian Chefs launching this autumn, this was a perfect opportunity to delve into the delicious world of Italian food here in the UK.
On a balmy June day in central London, Great British Chefs took over the Italian Consul General’s kitchen in St James’s. Although it’s an incredibly grand residence steeped in history, the walls adorned with photos of famous political faces, for once, no one was interested in political events. With good ingredients, recipes and, of course, plenty of wine on the menu, these three hungry Italians were happy to focus solely on their Italian culinary roots.
The dynamic in the kitchen was set with an early glass of white wine for the kitchen prep and Mazzei (the ‘real’ chef) running it as if it were a restaurant kitchen. Mazzei has always championed rustic Italian food and his dish was a simple rack of rose veal (a dish he cooked for 150 people at Tucci’s wedding) sprinkled with rock salt and then thrown in the oven with some whole garlic bulbs. Apart from the occasional turning, this dish looks after itself and the roast garlic is later mashed into a fabulous paste with salt, marjoram and pepper to be spread over the cooked veal before serving.