Interview: Elettra Wiedemann, Former Runway Model Turned Restauranteur

by Yumi Matsuo · February 16, 2012

    Amidst the Fashion Week chaos, the essentials are anything that will get you through the day of shows and after parties, from coffee, vitamins, to visine. Food used to be an after thought until former runway model, Elettra Wiedemann, brought her pop-up restaurant to Fashion Week.

    For the second year in a row, daughter of Isabella Rossellini, Elettra, is teaming up with the city's hottest chefs to serve locally-sourced, healthy food for models, designers, and industry insiders. In addition to the restaurant, there will be a Goodness Lounge by Renaissance Hotels on the 7th floor of the Museum of Arts and Design. Check out what Elettra and Chef Alain Allegretti from La Promenade des Anglais, had to say about tackling your inner foodie while maintaining a runway model physique.

    [Photo: Alain Allegretti, Elettra Wiedemann]

    What was your inspiration for starting this pop-up restaurant?

    Elettra: I just recently finished my dissertation on food politics for my masters degree and with my experience in modeling I came up with the idea for Goodness. To have healthy, stylish food everyone could snack on.

    What is food politics?

    Elettra: It's about the future of feeding urban populations. All the politics that surrounds food. Boring stuff really.

    Did your prior experience as a model have a lot to do with developing the concept for Goodness?

    Elettra: During fashion week when I was on the runway, it was always so hard to find good food. I'd be traveling around and always wanted to try out the local restaurants but never had the chance to. There really wasn't a variety of food for models during fashion week and I wanted to use the Goodness Pop-up as a way to give people a chance to taste the wonderful food in the city.

    [Photo: Elettra Wiedemann via]

    Do you plan to expand into other cities involved in Fashion Week?

    Elettra: That's the goal and hopefully I'll be lucky enough to find local chefs in those cities that would want to be involved.

    So what exactly is the idea behind Goodness?

    Chef Alain: It's a combination of goodness and badness in the meals. Because after all there a lot of bad things.

    Elettra: But I just his amazing trofie dish which is like a pasta with tuna and it was really a great size portion. It was quite small but still filling at the same time. And it was very light. So it's badness but it's still goodness.

    What do you guys suggest for us when we have late night cravings? (For those of us who really aren't so health-conscious)

    Chef Alain: If you are going to have something off of my menu I would recommend either the salad or the pasta. Simple salad but there is a lot going on in the salad so it could be a full meal. You have the prosciutto inside, you have the pomegranate, you have the mushroom... so it's like a main dish. And with the pasta you have tuna on top which is a protein so it takes the pasta to a different level.

    [Photo: Elettra Wiedemann, Poppy Delevigne via]

    I've always heard that eating past nine is not a healthy decision. Is that true?

    Chef Alain: After a certain time definitely but it matters on how long you are going to stay up past eating-- during the night that is. If you plan on going out until 4 o'clock in the morning this week, I would encourage you to have the pasta.

    Did you guys attend any fashion shows this week?

    Elettra: I did, yeah. I went to Jason Wu, Prabal, and yesterday I went to Diane von Furstenberg. And at the end of the week I'm going to Calvin Klein.

    Chef Alain: I was invited yesterday to the Monte Claire one but couldn't get out of the kitchen.

    Do you miss the runway?

    Elettra: It's nice to be watching the show now. The first time I walked was in Milan, but I wasn't a great model on the runway.

    What is a fashion week essential for you?

    Elettra: Good food... from Alaine!

    [Photo: Solange Knowles, Elettra Wiedemann via] -

    So what exactly is that this week?

    Chef Alain: My famous salad, a butternut squash soup with ricotta and chestnut, I have a braised flatiron steak with polenta and carrots and I have the pasta.

    Elettra: It's amazing, you should go upstairs and try it!