Tanya Gervasi is a unique kind of model, one that combines her passion for food with her work. Tanya was born in Moscow, and raised in Italy. She is now based in Turin though she spends most of her time traveling: Milan and London became some sort of a home. This is how she defines herself:
“Not only am I a model but also a gastronomer”
In fact, Tanya graduated in June 2012 from the University of Gastronomic Sciences (Pollenzo-Italy). Most people know it as “Slow Food University”. She loves cooking but most of all the conviviality that food brings and the culture behind it. She has her own blog about modelling life and gastronomy, two things apparently very apart. It's called gastromodel.com, a blog about her two passions, soon to have its dedicated food column and a style section for curvy women.
FDL met with Tanya during Fashion Week for a chat:
You began modeling at a very young age, and then you got a degree at the University of Food Science in Pollenzo. Why this unusual choice?
Everyone thinks it’s odd, but the University offered me—and offers all its students—the chance to travel and get to know new cultures. My work as a model always allowed me to experience different atmospheres, and it’s the same thing the University of Pollenzo offered me—an equally rich and stimulating world.
After graduation, were you able to use your passion for food? Do you have any food-related projects in the works?
Right now I’m writing a mini-guide for the luxury department store, Excelsior Milano. Since I’ve been modeling since age 13, I’m really trying to concentrate on my food projects. I’ve got a couple of things in the works, but I can’t talk about them quite yet.
What’s your favorite kind of cuisine?
Let me say that I actually don’t put one kind of cuisine over another: each is unique, with its own history. Having said that, I really enjoy Japanese food. I associate sushi with eating with good friends—maybe because I rarely eat it alone. I adore Italian food, though don’t love all the regional specialties equally. But my true food, the one that’s really imprinted me, is that from Belarus. My grandmother’s cooking in Minsk outshines anything from a gourmet chef.
You’re of Russian origins, but you grew up in Italy. What are the flavors and tastes of your national cuisine?
This may sound predictable, but borsch with brown bread is a must—as are blintzes with jam, which are nothing like crèpes. And then there are the potatoes, which in Russia have a totally different flavor! Eastern dishes feature three main ingredients: potatoes, cabbage and onion. Add some lard and a glass of vodka and you’ll be transported to a Russian home.
You live in Turin, but work in London and Milan. What are your favorite eating places in these cities?
Turin is easy: Eataly! It’s wonderful and can satisfy every taste. In Milan, my boyfriend always takes me to a pizzeria on the canals called “I capatosta”. In London, the best Mexican restaurant ever—Cantina Laredo. They have fresh guacamole and amazing drinks.
Any chefs you haven’t tried yet, but want to?
Thomas Keller at French Laundry in Napa Valley e René Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen. Sooner or later, I’ll go.
“Food is the new fashion”, according to Martha Stewart. What do you think?
I’d say she’s right. Television and magazines are totally obsessed with food. To the point of being superficial about it.
What does “Live in Italian” mean to you?
It means bringing packages of pasta with me when I travel; always reading Italian news; seeking out Italians whenever I’m abroad. It means missing great coffee, even though I don’t drink a lot of it. It means missing great sauces and vegetables, it means being in touch with your mother.