LONDON- Tonight we are entering Francesca Marotta’s kitchen. Designer in the Soul, Londoner of Heart and Sicilian in the Skin, Francesca Marotta is part of the new crop of young designers creating a buzz amongst fashionistas. Her Sicilian heritage mixed with her English avant-garde outlook is a perfect way to describe her style. Her design and couture skills have been a predominant trait since the tender age of ten, when she started to design and sew outfits for her little sister’s dolls. After pursuing her studies at the London College of Fashion, Francesca has worked for several companies; held her own fashion shows in Japan, UK, France and Belgium; and also won few Designing Award, one of which as Best Young Designer 2003 – France Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Francesca is not only a talented designer, but also a Creative Director and Stylist, with clients like Scissor Sisters and editorials published worldwide, including Vogue Japan. If you want to know more about Francesca Marotta and her collections check out her website: www.francescamarotta.com
After we arranged about this interview, Francesca decided to hold a cosy dinner party for Nickque Patterson, her show stylist & Fashion Director of Open Lab Magazine NYC and me.
I was very excited about this supper, I know that Francesca loves cooking and her Sicilian roots are definitely a plus to make this meal a certain success. Designers who can truly be 100% involved in whole collection process, from the designing to the production and the shows is a rarity; and I am glad to see that Francesca has the exact same attitude when it comes to the culinary world. Everything was homemade and all the finer details were impeccable.
The meal was absolutely stellar. As she stated: ”When I do dinner parties, it’s like a show, it has to have a starter that builds you up into wanting to see more, the main that takes you to a different level and the dessert that has to be “Le clou du spectacle” and will make you want to come back!”
As main course, Francesca made Pork Tenderloin Roast with cracked pepper and Herbes de Provence and Guerande Salt, Roasted Peppers and Black Olive Salad, Grilled Courgettes and Green Asparagus in balsamic vinegar and garlic dressing, Roast potatoes and corn.
Here below are ingredients, preparation and tips for Francesca’s recipe:
Ingredients: (can serve 4 people)
1kg of Pork Tenderloin
600 grams of roasting potatoes
Freshly grounded pepper, Herbes de Provence, Guerande Salt
1 yellow, 1 red, 1 orange peppers
5 zucchini courgettes
20 green asparagus
1 head of garlic
10 dry black olives
Balsamic vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Sweet corns
Rock Salt and Pepper
Rice Bran Oil
“Before making the meat, prepare the peppers as a cold side dish.
Wash and put them under the grill till they blacken by turning them on each side, when ready, place them one by one in aluminium foil so they “sweat” for about 7 minutes, then open the foils, remove the skins and seeds and place in a salad bowl with its own juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and sliced black olives (remove the pips first).
Preheat your oven at 200 ºC.
Wash the meat and dry it with a kitchen cloth, cover all around with the freshly coarsely grounded pepper, Guerande Salt and Herbes de Provence, then seal every single side in some olive oil in a very hot pan to seal the juices.
When nicely browned put it in a roasting tin, covered. Cook for a good hour.
Peel your potatoes, cut them in halves, put them in unsalted boiling water for 6 minutes, drain them, transfer them in a roasting tin, drizzle rice bran oil over them, Guerande salt, oregano and grounded pepper, mix and put it in the oven for 45 minutes turning them once half-way of cooking until nicely roasted and crunchy.
Wash the zucchini and asparagus. Cut the zucchini in halves length way, place in a bowl and drizzle olive oil, freshly grounded pepper and oregano, mix. Heat up a griddle pan (must be really hot) and place the zucchini, turn once when they have the “griddle stamp” then place them in a salad bowl filled with a dressing made of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic, freshly grounded rock salt and grounded pepper. Do exactly the same for the asparagus, grill them (for about 7 minutes in all) and place in the same salad bowl, mix and cover.
For the corn I usually cook it in an organic vegetable stock for 30 minutes then I drain and put loads of butter, some freshly grounded salt and pepper.
I would normally make my homemade gravy but this time I decided to use the pork juices as they were (this is why it is important to cover the meat). Before cutting the meat, set it aside for about 5-10 minutes so it rests and it will taste much better too.
I love soul food and around soul food creative minds get more creative and I have to admit that Nickque and I love eating together. I decided to cook this dainty recipe while I was in the supermarket, picking up ingredients that inspired me in that specific moment”.
I can definitely say that Francesca has the Midas Touch. She does it all with an evident enthusiasm and deep pleasure. I was curious to know if this special dish could be compared to a particular piece of her SS12 collection, entitled ‘A la Recherche du Temps Perdu’, the searching of a lost time, which is inspired by powerful women, a mix of Hitchcock heroines with the superpowers of Marvel characters.
Image Credit: Natalie J Watts
“Cannot really compare the recipe to a singular piece but in general, it is all about using the right ingredients and with the right measures.
Cooking is an art and I am not a chef, far from it; I think men are better in mastering it as an art. Women are more into cooking like mums! Even in the way we present our dishes. And yes, when you cook to the level when it becomes an art, it is definitely like creating a collection… It is all about the right ingredients and making those work together and present them to a level no one has seen before.
Food inspires me so of course I am sure it also plays in my creativity without being so obvious”.