It’s not every day we find ourselves sitting down to chat with a famous fashion designer turned cookbook author. Iconic designer Zac Posen released a cookbook this week – Cooking with Zac: Recipes From Rustic to Refined – making him, dare we say, a tried and true Potatohead. We knew he’d be the perfect second subject for our column, Industry Talk, as he’s navigating the waters of food and fashion in much the same way we do. We sat down with Posen to chat about his most interesting dinner parties (past guests include Claire Danes), how cooking is his “fashion detox,” and why good content should always be evocative…
We love that you’ve gone from fashion to food with your new cookbook. Have you always loved to cook? What foods did you like and dislike growing up?
I have always loved cooking, from growing my own veggies on my roof to baking. I was a very bizarre and picky eater as a child. I ate noodle soup, seaweed, pizza, salty licorice and chocolate mousse, but I would not eat red meat or spicy foods.
We think food breaks the ice, do you agree, and how so?
Food is definitely an ice breaker. Food is incredibly evocative and emotional, but it can also be intimidating and challenging. I like to have options to break the ice in a pleasant way while entertaining.
What similarities do you see between the world of food and the world of fashion?
It all stars with good materials and ingredients. Both fashion and food take technique, process and experience. How something tastes is similar to how something makes you feel.
What differences between the two do you find, and therefore appreciate?
Cooking is my fashion detox.
What’s been the most exciting dinner party you’ve had? Who was there, and what did you make for them?
I’ve had many exciting dinner parties, so it’s hard to pick a favorite, but when I was in my early twenties, I used to gather large groups of people on the weekends at my parents’ loft in Soho. I remember cooking a three-course meal for an eclectic group of friends from Bijou Phillips to Claire Danes.
What style advice also works for cooking?
Color, texture, proportion and planning are essential. Fashion is how we dress the theatre of life, and food is the theatre of nourishing our bodies and souls.
How has the world of fashion changed, since you first started your career?
Exponentially. Fashion is a business, and the way that we communicate and receive information and shop has all changed since I started out in fashion.
What is your personal definition of good content?
Good content evokes emotion when experienced.
What do you think about what’s happening in media and magazines right now? How does it affect what you do?
It’s a very interesting time to be living and growing up and seeing the world of media change. I’m very thankful that I started when the media was in a more establishment position. In some ways, there was a lot more protocol and ropes to navigate. I feel very inspired and primed for the future as I’ve always looked at how to take my fashion brands and love of food, entertaining, and gardening into interactive content.
Do you have a favorite person you’ve cooked for? Who is it and why?
I love cooking for my family because it’s an interactive process and experience and they really enjoy a good meal. In general, I like cooking for kids – cookies, cakes and breakfast especially.
What’s the issue you feel most passionately about and why?
The lack of distribution and integration of locally non-genetically modified produce.
What are your favorite restaurants in Paris, London, Los Angeles and New York?
In Paris, I like Chez l’Ami Louis, Vivant Paris, and Takara. In London, my favorites are J. Sheekey, The Ivy, and The Wolseley. New York is a really hard one for me as it’s my hometown; I have many favorites but particularly love Le Bernardin, La Grenouille, The Grill, Omen Azen, EN Brasserie, and Russ + Daughters. In Los Angeles, it’s Mr. Chow, The Polo Lounge, Spago, La Scala, and Joan’s on Third.
If you could create your own quote of the day today, what would it be?
Creativity and cooking are the secrets to happiness.
*Zac Posen, photographed at The Whitby Hotel in New York NY