Marianna owns a few other TOAST pieces, a pair of grey woollen trousers (a London staple), a waffle, cotton top in mustard, a loose button-down shirt, all of which get better with time and can be worn in myriad contexts, she says. These are the kinds of clothes she always wears; “I like the freedom they give a woman, giving her femininity without showing every single curve,” she says, “I otherwise live in my chef clothes, which are always over-sized, and I love that."
When Leivaditaki came to Britain, it wasn’t to cook, but to study psychology. Aged 18, she enrolled at the University of Kent, and went on to do a Masters in forensics. Always having to fund herself, she variously worked shifts at Pizza Hut, an Alzheimer's care centre and, eventually, at a restaurant inside Canterbury’s covered farmers’ market. There, making jams and preserves on-site, she became interested in English produce, “and the spark I already had inside me started to ignite again.” She and her colleagues would save their tips for a monthly blow-out meal in London; their first visit to Moro opened her eyes to what British food could be. “They were doing all these things that were really familiar from my past, making bread with a real wood oven, cooking meat on a charcoal grill… I fell in love with the place.”
After a two year stint back in Crete, during which she took charge of the family restaurant with Adonis, a period of intense experimenting, reading, and learning, she came back to London. She went straight to Moro, “I need to get into that kitchen,” she thought, and she did, albeit starting first as a waitress – she wasn’t a chef, she told them – “I had no technical experience, but I was confident in my tastes”. Within two and a half years, she’d ascended to head chef, and when Hackney Road’s Morito opened in 2016, Marianna was put in charge.