Francesco Mazzei grew up in Calabria, and from a young age showed a keen interest in becoming a chef. After working in hotels and restaurants in Rome and London, he opened his first restaurant in the UK, 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.