Taste, whether in fashion or food, is essential to designer Zac Posen. So, when he unveiled a new collaboration with winemaker VieVité, he had to knew he was delivering the best rosé he could. Posen shares details about his latest delve into the world of food and spirits, his favorite dishes from his new cookbook, and where you will find him dining in New York City.
I own a copy of your cookbook, Cooking with Zac, so when I heard you were unveiling a collaborative rosé with VieVité, it wasn't a hard stretch for me to imagine you in the spirits world. I imagine this was an easy yes for you, no?
ZAC POSEN: Well, we got approached to do the packaging for this niche, limited-edition bottle of rose that is made by an artisan vineyard in the south of France, and I tried it and thought it was a very sophisticated rosé, starting with, obviously, the allure of its blush color and the dryness and fruit notes. It was a great and fun collaboration to create this summer essential. I always think about the full lifestyle.
Are there dishes, perhaps from your cookbook, that pair well with the rosé?
ZP: Absolutely! The poached salmon with lime for summer would be excellent with the rosé. What I love about this wine is that you can take it from h'ordeuvre to dessert, which I think is a rare quality in a wine. You could make the poached pears from my cookbook with the rosé, instead of a riesling or other white wine. The fried chicken is amazing. I think the red snapper would pair beautifully with it, the grilled squid salad, and even the watercress soup.
I must tell you that the photographs in the book were also quite beautiful, especially the spring and summer chapter opener, which reminded me of these elegant Eric Boman food photographs. Who shot these though?
ZP: Those were shot by a photographer named Anna Williams. I had a dream team on the book. Two things to know about the book: it was created over a three-year process, starting first with the essays and chapter concepts, but then the recipe testing, which I did over a whole year period because I was pretty determined to have each recipe tested about four times after conception. It was a lot of work, but I had an amazing collaborator in a woman named Raquel Pelzel, and it was really one of her last books that she coauthored, because she's now on the editorial side of Clarkson Potter. And the food styling was down by myself and the legendary Victoria Granof, but I was involved in every single image, composition, plate choice, everything. The food styling was really a labor of love and we shot everything in one week, except for the repartage photography, which was shot by Vanina Sorrenti on my parents farm.
The "Spring & Summer" chapter opener in Zac Posen's latest cookbook was shot by photographer Anna Williams.
There was a part of the book I want to ask you about, where you write about your mid-winter getaways. You say, "I've been seeking the perfect mid-winter getaway forever. Of course, it's not just what the place have to offer me from the sun and fun standpoint, but from a food perspective as well." It reminded me of that "will travel for food" slogan. Do you travel for food?
ZP: I try! I have tried to guide the travels that I do, granted I've been on more than 40 flights since January. But I try to travel to cities for work that have good food and a great museum. Those are the things that will get me to a city for work, whether it's a trunk show, a Delta event, or for Brooks Brothers. Since we had such a long winter this year, I went to Kyoto, for cherry blossom season, which certainly has incredible food and is very rich in culture and museums.
And when you're in New York, where do you go?
ZP: I love to food shop in New York. I have two addictions: I'm a sucker for food products and great produce, and plants. I have a plant addiction that's real. I mean, when I go out to my parents farm, I'll stop at a few hidden gems near the New Jersey countryside, near the Delaware or Pennslyvania and arrive with the back of an SUV filled with plants and I have a good day and a half of nonstop gardening. It's my weekly workout. Getting my hands in the Earth and going to the beach are what balance me.
Do you like going to restaurants or does the ceremony of it take away from the experience?
ZP: I think through my travels, I've gotten friendly with some amazing chefs. I love the theater of restaurants. I am a huge fan of Daniel Humm and he's a friend. I haven't been to the newly reopened Eleven Madison, but I'm super excited about it. He's the chef of our time right now. Eric Ripert is also a friend, as well as Marcus Samuelsson. So for me it's a personal creative journey. It's similar to when I have a great actor here for a fitting in my studio. I feel like I get to play in the same way at a restaurant.
I live on the Upper East Side. I love Mezzaluna and just great Italian food. There are places I just don't get the opportunity to go to because at the end of the day I'm pretty exhausted, but I'm excited to try Pith Supper Club. They have a young chef creating a new kind of cooking experience. When I order special ingredients, I order them from my friend Ian, who owns and founded Regalis Foods, which specializes in truffles and caviar.
So you get the good stuff!
ZP: I've learnedover the years how to get the good stuff, but I also like to grow the good stuff too. You can get the best ingredients in the world, but there's nothing like growing your own. I start my plants from seeds and in the winter time my mother and I shoot emails back and forth about heirloom seeds. I think the simpatico of understanding the starting ingredient is really similar to understanding the depth and flavor of what makes a great Côtes de Provence.
Not unlike your design approach at Brooks Brothers, right?
ZP: Right. They're very similar. It's a gourmet experience here and it's about the customer's experience. Just like you have haute cuisine, this is a haute fashion experience and it's artisanal, you invent techniques, have a construction method, and just like food it all starts with the fabrication and material you use to make something.