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Whether whisking eggs for an omelet, writing a new cookbook or spending the summer in Italy, Los Angeles chef and Master Class series star Nancy Silverton derives her energy from being in the kitchen – no matter where she is.
Inventing new dishes and exploring new tastes and flavors are her ideas of “working out.”
“Some go to the gym or to yoga class or on a run. I go into the kitchen,” Silverton said in an interview with the Beverly Press.
“A new flavor combination will always inspire me, usually something simple. ‘New’ to me, that is. Could be eggs with an aged pecorino or a shoulder of lamb with a blanket of herbs and cumin.”
Her ever-evolving kitchen curiosity keeps her going – even when on vacation in Italy. She takes what she learns – or tastes – and brings those ideas back to her restaurants, Osteria Mozza, Mozza Pizzeria and chi SPACCA.
Her most recent travels gave her such a bountiful array of dishes, she is still debating exactly which to implement in her menus.[It’s] tough to decide because there were so many. I went to Osteria Francescana and Massimo Bottura had some dishes that were stunning and utterly delicious. My friend, the brilliant food writer Faith Willinger, took us to the Abruzzo coast to a place called Vecchia Marina in the town of Roseto degli Abruzzi. The fish, straight from the adjacent Adriatic Sea, was prepared with just a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and an herb or spice and was close-your-eyes good,” she said. “The menus at my restaurant are always changing from season to season – after each trip, you can be sure to find me in the kitchen with my team workshopping a new dish,”
Silverton tenaciously pursues perfection with each new recipe, repeating over and over until she gets it right.
“For the record, the first attempt at a new dish never quite works. Neither does the 13th. But I keep at it and I’ll get there,” Silverton insists.
Her latest venture is a new cookbook, “The Cookie That Changed My Life,” described as “the eagerly anticipated baking bible from America’s most respected authority: 100+ recipes for cookies, cakes, breads and breakfast pastries,” by publisher Penguin Random House.
A peanut butter cookie from an East Hollywood Bakery inspired her to write the cookbook.
“It was really something simple that I could have easily overlooked. But Michael [Krikorian] brought home a peanut butter cookie from a bakery in East Hollywood, Family and Friends, and I took one bite and it was simply perfection. It brought youth back. It made me think about ideal versions of the classic desserts and I took my spin on them.”
As the original pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spago she said the cookie gave her an epiphany: “every single thing we bake should taste this good.”
She encourages at-home bakers to find a recipe that speaks to them.
“You can flip to any page, look at Anne Fishbein’s photos and find one.”
Since the theme of this magazine is about architecture, we asked Nancy what her favorite buildings are in L.A., besides Osteria Mozza and Mozza Pizzeria, of course. Without knowing some of the places we highlighted in this issue, she offered some prime choices.
“The old Bullocks Wilshire. The old May Company at Wilshire and Fairfax which is now the Academy Museum, the old Tail o’ the Pup. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel,” she listed.
And two others we may have overlooked, “My old restaurant Campanile which is now Republique. It’s not a building, but the Watts Towers must be in any issue about Los Angeles architecture.”
We will save those iconic places for the next issue.
As for what’s next, Silverton hinted she has something cooking.
“How much space do you have? Let’s just say if you can’t come to see me at Highland and Melrose, I am going to try and come see you. Wherever in the world you may be.”
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