by Melissa Lupo
Never let someone else’s limited imagination define what you think is possible.
Some days Roze Traore is suiting up, other days he’s plating up.
As this series of fashion week fun has come to a close (I’m looking at you, Paris), City Girl Cooks takes to the streets of Milan with chef and model, Roze Traore.
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and signed with Elite UK, Traore may be seen gliding down the runway during NY fashion week or backstage at Ferragamo in his chef whites finishing up the frisèe (that’s a salad, guys).
Vice, Vogue, Style and all the cool kids that matter, are talking about the hybrid hottie and it seems in the end, everyone wants to know the same thing: how?
This is about more than a hot chef or a model that cooks (ok it’s also about that, this is City Girl Cooks right?), but let’s be real. The implication is: which one is he really.
Chefs wanna know “ok pretty boy, you look good in the coat but can you keep up?”
And the bookers wanna know “can I count on you for castings in a hot minute or should I send someone else?”
I sniff another conversation about millennials coming on.
Tearing up kitchens around the world like at restaurants from Jean-George Vongerichten, or Bibiana, CityZen, and Urbana in Washington DC, Traore wants us to know he is dead serious about the kitchen.
Chef Roze had never been to Milan so we decided to meet for coffee at Dolce & Gabbana’s Martini Bar on Corso Venezia then hit up some chic foodie spots in the area.
A gloomy, Milanese late-winter day makes it hard to look good, which is all you want to do when going on a leisurely passeggiata around the busy and elegant, via Montenapoleone with a model chef. The day needed a bit of light so I threw on a floral bomber and an A-line skirt from Mila Schon, and a canary yellow coat and patent bag from Trussardi. Done.
We had an entire afternoon to get to know each other so after a quick espresso, off we went for a tour of some favorite spots around the Quadrilaterale della Moda, in the center of Milan where the most famous brands are headquartered. The weather was cold and the sun stayed hidden, but the energy of a city never does disappoint if you listen close enough.
At first, Chef Roze may seem kind of quiet, even aloof. He’s used to cameras and crowds so it didn’t phase him that our camera guy and production coordinator (the famous Camila Salles, for those who know us well), were darting around, every once in a while primping and giving directions along the way.
The best walks around the city unveil themselves, you need only a starting point and an idea of where to go next. With both of us sporting Trussardi jackets for the day we started the morning fresh with fashion and a stroll down via della Spiga.
Chef Roze knows how to dress and clearly has an interest in looking good. He cares about what he eats, he works out, and is an overall handsome, stylish man. He’s not just a model, he naturally understands design.
Looking for gifts and another caffeine fix, we stepped into the glowing Pasticceria Marchesi on Via Montenapoleane, fast becoming a sacred spot for fashion biz meetings and well-heeled locals.
And I admit, I also wanted to know if he felt more like a model or a chef. He says he doesn’t follow fashion as much as food but he was definitely well-versed in both.
In fact, the two jobs together are quite complementary.
You may be expecting the usual deal about food as fashion or how they are unique channels for creative expression and yes, that is all true. But from a logistical perspective, this is actually a really smart way to leverage his time, resources and interests.
Being a model is seasonal and being a chef is something you can do anywhere in the world, so between the two, there is always an abundance of work and opportunity. It got me thinking about the expectations of this generation and the impression of millennials with their faces glued to a screen, distracted, overly optimistic, and not being willing to work hard to earn “a good life”.
Somewhere along the way, we humans decided that the good life was the reward we receive at the end of a difficult road, full of sacrifice and whatever. Now there is the idea that we do not need to wait, “the good life” can and should be enjoyed now. The liberty that technology gives us to be and do multiple things at once has also created the expectation that we must be and do multiple things at once. Even more, an awareness of how things are connected and how you fit into a network, is key to maintaining your value.
Having only one way to earn income is becoming more rare, and diversifying your skill set is becoming a necessity. Even the way our days are structured is changing rapidly. It’s all about optimization. Optimizing your time, your money, and your happiness.
Besides the rising cost of everything, it’s becoming a full time job to stay updated and relevant, as roles overlap and technology constantly changes. Falling behind can be detrimental and isolating. Staying curious and interested is no longer a luxury, it is an obligation.
At the famous Milanese restaurant and artisan deli, il Salumaio, it was clear that chef Roze’s easy manner was really just quiet curiosity, taking in the ambiance and listening attentively as the chefs explained the preparation of the fresh pumpkin ravioli and the aging process of the homemade mostarda.
Chef Roze is guided by what fascinates him and what makes him happy. He has chosen to do two things (at least so far) and these two things, seem to give him what he needs. Of course this is usually the point someone raises their hand to say “that’s all great, but when is going to get a real job and settle down?”
Somehow the word “job” became synonymous with doing what you gotta do — survival. And while our basic human needs have not changed, everything about how we satisfy them, has.
His two current occupations means he’s plugged into two major industries, working seasonal schedules, growing a flexible skill set, and is fostering a great network, all while learning more as he travels.
Ok, maybe these are not ideal jobs for everyone per sè, but the way of thinking certainly can be (warning: millennial undertone here). Rather than deciding which one he wanted to do, he is doing both, and frankly is killing it on both sides.
Once a upon a time, we were told to choose what we wanted to be, now we are many things.
Wandering into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Duomo, we were hypnotized by the bright halls, glass, and original frescos. The rhythm was easy. We were both calm. It was…fun. Even if we are “working” or “plugged in” the whole time, we enjoy what we do. I wonder if the artist that painted those frescos was told that he should “get a real job.”
What happened to us that we hold happiness in such low esteem? This is a hopeful generation that wants to work hard, but wants to do it on their terms. From a generation that believed in “work hard, play hard” we move to one that says “and let’s have as much fun doing it as possible”, the message is not different. The goal to enjoy life is the same, the timing is what has changed.
Model. Chef. Roze Traore turns heads for obvious reasons, but the unanimous fascination goes a bit deeper. He is a model for more than just great jeans, he is an excellent example of how we are no longer limited to a single identity. We are aware of the infinite network of information and opportunities that surround us and we intend to use them.
Besides, millennials are only the beginning, wait until you see what Generation Z has got cooking.
Chef Roze Traore: //chefroze.com/
Chef Roze Coat by: Trussardi
Melissa Lupo Coat & Bag by: Trussardi
Melissa Lupo bomber jacket & Skirt by: Mila Schon
Melissa Lupo Shoes by: Prada
Photography by: Zach Cavanaugh
Make-up by: Alessandra Orlandi
Production Coordinator: Camila Salles
Production Assistant: Tara Sellgren