The career paths for models looking to diversify after their prime days have become rather predictable: a lingerie line, perhaps, or maybe cosmetics. For Elettra Wiedemann, it was the one less traveled — food.
“My journey to foodie-ism was kind of a random path,” Wiedemann says. “It started with modeling, actually. I grew up really eating pasta, and once I started modeling I couldn’t do that anymore, for obvious reasons. So I had to kind of teach myself how to cook while I was living in Italy and in Paris, and I liked it.”
The 33-year-old model, writer and daughter of Isabella Rossellini has released a cookbook, “Impatient Foodie: 100 Delicious Recipes for a Hectic, Time-Starved World,” out now, which chronicles her knowledge and love of nutrition.
The key to being a foodie while also working in the industry was, of course, learning to cook her favorites in healthy ways. “I developed a cooking style that was really hearty, but where I could also stay in a size 2,” she says. “That was kind of a 12-year experiment period.”
At 22, “right before I started working at Lancôme,” Wiedemann went to intern in the Samburu desert in northern Kenya for a summer, where she volunteered at an elephant research camp. “I was put in charge of running their refrigerators, I had this experience of being in charge of food for 18 people and being wowed by the amount of food that we would go through. So then I started really thinking about, ‘if this is for 18 people what does, like 18,000 look like? What does 1.8 million look like?’”
She pursued a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, where she researched food systems and food politics, before launching Impatient Foodie as a blog.
“Impatient Foodie was an attempt to bridge the gap between what I had learned at school and over the years of working and living with food, and with what the realities of my life actually were,” she says. “I really wanted to emulate and follow [the slow-food movement] but also feeling really time-stretched — at the time I was living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment, so it was really hard to live the Bon Appetit, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman lifestyle.”
The book is laid out “A to Z, which means asparagus to zucchini,” with four recipes per ingredient, which was born out of the way she approached cooking after a long day at work while writing at Refinery29, where she worked for two years starting in 2014.
“When I was working at Refinery29, I would be on my way back home after a long day and I’d pick up whatever I saw at the farmers’ market or whatever I would see at my grocery store, and then usually I’d get home and be like ‘I have no idea why I just bought this,’ and would just end up ordering takeout. The Impatient Foodie cookbook is really designed for that moment.”
As for how she thinks the fashion industry is shifting its approach to food? “I think that a lot of fashion now still has a high-end spiel, but a lot of it has also become mass-produced — the thing about food is that obviously the mass-produced stuff is in there, too, but you really can seek out very kind of bespoke things to eat. My mom and I constantly talk about how heirloom varietals are like the new couture.”