As this year’s official chef at the Lexus backstage lounge (and Lexus Culinary Master) during MADE Fashion Week and the man behind Brooklyn hot spots Roberta’s (the Bushwick gem arguably responsible for making pizza impossibly cool) and Blanca (a Michelin-starred tasting restaurant), Carlo Mirarchi is redefining the relationship between fashion and food. For more than five years, he’s worked to cook for the industry’s biggest players at various events and has also crafted the menus for events hosted by everyone from Bill Clinton to Beyoncé.
Here, we got an exclusive sneak peek at this year’s Lexus Lounge menu and talked to the chef about everything from tips for planning your next dinner party to what it’s really like to cook for the biggest celebs.
StyleCaster: How is planning a Fashion Week menu different than planning a typical menu?
Carlo Mirarchi: Typically, when we’re doing stuff for Fashion Week, we try to keep in mind that a lot of these people are working pretty crazy hours—from the crack of dawn into the night, and they’re going out to parties and socializing. They really don’t have a lot of time to eat, so what we try to do is make stuff that’s relatively clean and lean, but still filling, so it’ll give you a lot of energy and not really weigh you down.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
We’re doing some crudos, which I’m really excited about.
Do you find the “fashion people don’t eat” stereotype to be true?
Not that I’ve noticed; they definitely need that energy to keep on going.
Do you think there’s a particular food that the fashion crowd gravitates toward?
In my experience, it’s usually been fish and vegetables.
What are your go-to tips for cooking for big crowds?
The best thing is to try to cook things you’re familiar with and not try to overthink things, and try to not make it fancy to impress people.
What do you think is a foolproof dish to serve when hosting, that’s easy but also impressive?
I think whole fish is always great. It’s pretty straightforward and always makes a great presentation. It’s also a lot easier to plate things family style rather than trying to make it for individual people.
What’s a side everyone always loves?
Brussels sprouts. Everyone I’ve come across usually really, really likes them. Everyone loves them. It’s a little counterintuitive, but they’re good cooked almost any way. Everyone usually seems to enjoy ice cream as well, but that’s kind of a no-brainer.
If you could give one tip for upgrading basic food to really, really great food, what would it be?
Acidity is really important. A lot of people don’t use enough acid in their cooking. It makes a really big difference—it helps cut through fat and add flavor in a really clean way. Fresh lemon, lime, and different kinds of vinegar can help.
Check out Carlo’s full menu at the Lexus Lounge @ MADE Fashion Week, below!