Interviews

She Eats: The Impatient Foodie, Elettra Wiedemann

Jane Larkworthy
Elettra Wiedemann

Courtesy

In our series “She Eats,” we profile (literal) tastemakers — experts in the culinary space. They divulge not only their gastronomic philosophies and insight into their own meals, but their top skincare and beauty secrets.

Her grandmother was the great film actress Ingrid Bergman, her grandfather the famed film director Roberto Rossellini, and her mom is Isabella Rossellini, actress, activist and recently re-signed Lancôme® spokesperson. It is no wonder, then, that Elettra Wiedemann is beautiful, intelligent, and in possession of both a thoughtful heart and a quick sense of humor.

Wiedemann followed in her mother’s modeling footsteps, working with greats like Patrick Demarchelier, Annie Leibowitz and Arthur Elgort and appearing in Vogue, French Vogue and ELLE magazines, to name a few. During that time, she also earned a Master of Science in Biomedicine from the London School of Economics.

It was precisely this ambition (which she describes as “the size of a goldfish”) that prompted her to create her blog, and subsequent cookbook, The Impatient Foodie. It focused on good, fresh and healthy food with recipes that could be whipped up easily and without much effort or time (yours truly highly recommends “Rossellini Spaghetti,” page 57).

Now, at 35, having recently given birth to her son, Ronin, Wiedemann has decided to switch gears in the name of new mothers everywhere. She is going back to school again, this time to become an internationally board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).

“Breastfeeding was so much harder than I ever imagined, but I’m so glad I was encouraged to stick with it,” Wiedemann shares. “I hope that when I become an IBCLC, I can help mothers and young families feel supported, important and figure out a feeding method for their little chick that works for everyone.”

As sweet Ronin quietly gurgled nearby, she managed to take a moment to speak with us about her wellness, nutrition and beauty habits.

Spotlyte: How would you describe your overall diet intake?

Elettra Wiedemann: I eat everything. I’m really trying to eat a lot less red meat. And I’ve been pretty successful with that. I do eat a lot of fish and chicken, and we have a beautiful few farms out in the country [Long Island] where we live now, so we have access to a lot of great vegetables. Also, I hate fruit, so I don’t eat that. That’s my dirty little secret . . .

Spotlyte: Any dietary struggles with food?

EW: Don’t have any allergies. I eat everything. As I said, I’ve never liked fruit since I was a kid; the texture grosses me out. I can blend strawberries into a specific smoothie that I make but I drown it in lime juice to balance out the fruity taste. I know that’s totally weird but it is what it is!

Spotlyte How do you approach food and eating?

EW: When I was younger, I had a much more fraught relationship with food, especially when I was modeling. There was so much pressure to be so thin. I’m a tall person, but I wouldn’t say I’m naturally rail thin, so I really had to fight my body for a long time on that. But now, it’s not like I’ve given up, but I just kind of got sick of thinking about it.

I also realized one day that I’m a much happier, productive person. All the time that I’d spent worrying and thinking about food and what I was going to eat, I’m now spending thinking about other things, and enjoying other things. I’ve put it all in perspective, and it’s been great.

Spotlyte: Did you grow up in a gastronomic household? Or did you come upon your love of food once you hit adulthood?

EW: I wouldn’t say I lived in a super gastronomic household. We had certain staples that we’d eat over and over again and they were always really healthy and fresh. We never ate processed or canned foods; I wasn’t allowed to eat Oreos® or Chips Ahoy® cookies, which I hated [not being able to do] as a young child. But once I grew up and could taste them — and could have as many as I wanted — I thought they tasted gross! I guess in the long run that was a good thing, but back then it was the battle of the century for my mom.

Spotlyte: Would it be possible to get a sample day of what you eat?

EW: I wake up and either make that strawberry smoothie with collagen in it, or I’ll work out on an empty stomach after coffee, then have a whey protein shake and some eggs and toast — sometimes I put avocado on the toast, or smoked salmon. Yesterday, I had burrata with cherry tomatoes and scrambled eggs, which was delicious.

Lunch is usually something really light, like a salad with local vegetables and maybe grilled shrimp or scallops or chicken. Dinner can be anything. We‘re obsessed with our Instant Pot, so we’ll throw in some kind of grain, rice or quinoa and then grill up more fish and maybe a bunch of vegetables. We also have a great cheesemonger out here who has really fresh mozzarella and stuff like that.  Dinner is often kind of a hodgepodge, and we also eat dinner with our baby, so dinner’s always an interesting meal!

Spotlyte: Do you believe what you eat affects how you look and feel?

EW: Yes, I absolutely think it does, but not as much as marketers would have us believe. I think genes are the biggest player that game, buffeted by nutrition and exercise and self care.

Spotlyte: What are you making these days?

EW: I don’t really have one great go-to recipe, per se, but, as I’d mentioned, we use the Instant Pot almost every day. And since becoming a country person (I’m a former city person), I’ve discovered the incredible delight of having a really awesome grill. Whether it’s grilling fish or chicken or even vegetables or meat — it’s been such a game changer, and makes everything taste so good and so succulent. And it’s just so simple.

Spotlyte: What is your favorite restaurant of late?

EW: We have a local place in town called the Bellport. They just got a new chef and kind of redid their menu and it is so delicious and awesome. It’s the local hotspot place to chill and have a glass of rosé and meet everybody from town. I go there with my boyfriend — and even Ronin alone — and just have really delicious food, so it’s my local fave. He’s the local charmer.

Spotlyte: Tell me a bit about your skincare routine and habits. Are you loyal to one product or line? Have you found anything recently that you're loving?

EW: I’m breastfeeding right now, so i have to say I’m going really light on the skincare. I wash with a sensitive skin hyaluronic acid cleanser from Neutrogena®, as well as the brand’s hyaluronic acid serum, and Embryolisse ($20), that French cream that’s in every makeup artist’s bag. I have no loyalties, though. It’s kind of like, how I’m feeling in the moment and the time of year, so I just jump around. But obviously, I’m super restrictive these days because of breastfeeding and taking care of this little guy.

Spotlyte: What, if anything, skin care advice did your mom impart to you that you've lived by?

EW: My mother didn’t have a specific cream that she recommended or tell me, “do this” or “do that.” It was more like, “Take care of your skin from a young age, even when you’re in your twenties and you feel like you don’t need it because it does make a difference as you get older.” She was also really adamant — and continues to be — about not getting sun exposure and wearing a lot of sunscreen and hats. She goes to the beach completely covered — huge hat, long pants, long sleeves, sometimes she’ll even put a scarf on to cover the back and front of her neck.

Yep, completely covered, but she’s 66 and she looks incredible. Me? I’m not that extreme. I do not go into the sun to tan; I get bored! But I do wear short sleeves and shorts when I’m out and about on a hot day — though I also wear sunscreen, so I feel like that counts for something!

Spotlyte: What about professional treatments?

EW: I do not have a facialist and I don’t really go to one. I really love having somebody massage my face, though! If I could have someone do that for an hour and a half, I would! But I’ve never found somebody who has given me a facial that just changed my life. I think that’s a lot of marketing hoo-ha hokey-ness, so I don’t really do it that much. That’s my totally honest answer.

As Wiedemann jumps around frequently — both in her skincare routine and the types of meals she eats — it makes sense that a customizable recipe would be a family favorite. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to share one of our favorites of hers: Rossellini Spaghetti. Wiedemann reveals on her blog that it’s been passed down from generation to generation, and that fresh herbs are key. You’re free to customize the recipe as you wish — but note that Roberto Rossellini never ate garlic.

Rossellini Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • One package of spaghetti (Elettra says that one package of spaghetti is good for five people, if spaghetti is one course of a bigger meal. “If it’s the only course, then I say one package is good for three hungry people.”)
  • Lots of finely chopped fresh herbs (Elettra’s preferred blend is below):
    • Approximately one cup of finely chopped basil
    • Approximately one cup of finely chopped parsley
    • Approximately one cup of chives
    • ¼  cup of finely chopped sage
    • ½  cup of finely chopped mint
    • ¼  cup of finely chopped oregano
  • Zest from a whole lemon
  • ½ – ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Generous handful of grana parmigiano (and more if you want!)
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Chop up all the herbs finely and place together in a large bowl.
  2. Cook and drain pasta well and add to the bowl with herbs.
  3. Add in olive oil and the lemon zest and toss together well.
  4. Add salt to taste and handful of parmigiano before serving.


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