Two of London’s star chefs, Francesco Mazzei (45), who runs three successful Italian restaurants, and Tom Aikens (48), a master of modern British cuisine and owner of Michelin Star restaurants, visited the chef’s kitchen at ACMER (Association of Chefs from Mediterranean and European Regions) in Split on Saturday. They arrived not only as representatives from Great British Chefs, an organization which is comprised of 200 of the best chefs in Great Britain, but also as friends of the London office of Croatian tourism. They are working on a project launched earlier this year which aims to bring Croatian gastronomy closer to the world; especially through the joint cooking of renowned Croatian and British chefs. Thus, Mazzei and Aikens have come to ACMER’s kitchen in Split to prepare Dalmatian dishes with Željko Neven Bremec, the president of the Chef’s association, and Veljko Lipsanovic, an award-winning chef who runs the kitchen at restaurant Hum, island Vis. After Split, the British cooking pair plans to
Mazzei, who is originally from Calabria, has achieved stardom in London and often cooks for world-famous Brits. In ACMER, he put on his apron, rolled out the homemade pasta, and began to prepare cooked the chicken sautéed with crushed breadcrumbs on aromatized onions.
“I came from a poor Calabrese family, and we didn’t have money so I began cooking when I was still a child.” – Mazzei explains – “I started working in the summer holidays with my uncle in a cake and ice cream shop so I could get money to buy Levis. I arrived in London at 22 years old and I was thrilled so I decided to stay. My kitchen is pretty common today; I cook my mother’s meals with a ‘chef’s approach’. On London’s tables I’m serving a plate of full gastronomic heritage from my hometown. We have the privilege of being one of the few Italian restaurants to host world leaders, great musicians like Roger Waters, actor Colin Firth and many other world famous people who love my ancestors’ food. However, whether they are famous or not, they are all guests when they enjoy their time and talk about food,” said Mazzei.
Aikens, who is a master of modern British cuisine as well as a personality on British cooking TV shows, comes from a Norfolk family who have been involved in food and wine. To feel the essence of Dalmatia in ACMER’s kitchen, he picked asparagus and prepared a salad with parsley and nuts. He also made a superb carpaccio of sardines with curled orange slices, lemon, and vegetables.
“The modern British cooking which I make is much easier than the traditional cuisine. It is full of seasonal foods, which are much more sophisticated and creative. I was taught from great world chefs, I lived and worked in France, traveled and taught. Sometimes I would get tired of restaurant kitchens, so I would work as a personal chef. One of my clients was also the famous composer Andrew Lloyed Webber. I opened my first restaurant 15 years ago in Chelsea, and later several others in Britain. Now I have restaurants in Hong Kong and Dubai” – Aikers told us in which restaurants they are expecting members of the royal family of England.
Mazzei and Aikens enjoyed roasted lamb and prosec, salty incauni dish from the island of Vis, a funnel of gavuna oranges and lemon juice which Chef Bremec prepared for them. They also enjoyed the top-notch Plavac Mali from Matela, a winery which participated in the project at ACMER.
“This was a great opportunity to connect with Great British Chefs, which we believe will create new cooperation in the form of professional trainings, master classes, guest appearances and participation in competitions. First and foremost, this refers to our international cooking competition “Pearl of the sea”. It has been a tradition lasting 13 years, which is very interesting at the planetary level of chefs. There is also the Grand Gourmet which, for the last four years, apart from competitions, offers education and special programs for waiters, baristas the bartenders. There is also an increase in the number of employers who recognize the benefits of strategic co-operation with ACMER and thus provide top executives for a successful job,” added Alma Harasic Bremec, head of the ACMER cooking academy.