Nancy Silverton is one of my favorite personalities in food. For years I’d make my way to the hole in the wall called LaBrea Bakery in Hollywood and order a kalamata olive loaf and a Mexican coke for lunch. There were 2 seats in the bakery. There was hardly room to order, but when you walked in there were hundreds of loaves of amazing bread staring you in the face and the smell was intoxicating. That little bakery grew and the woman behind it turned out to be a superstar chef and entrepreneur. Her name is Nancy Silverton.
Her history is impressive. She grew up in Southern California and enrolled in Sonoma State University where she majored in Political Science. She said that as she was cooking vegetarian food in her dorm her freshman year, she realized that’s what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. It took her until her senior year to drop out and change direction officially. She opted to study at London’s le condo blue. After graduation she studied further at Lenotre Culinary Institute in Plasir.
She started her career as Spago’s pastry chef in Los Angeles in 1982. And in 1986 she wrote her first book Desserts. Soon after she opened that tiny bakery with her husband Mark Peel. She specialized in artisan bread, something I’d never even considered, and wasn’t yet popular. That was the start of her superstar status.
From there she opened a restaurant with her husband Chef Mark Peel, called Campanile right next door. It was beautiful… fine dining… and every Thursday night this white tablecloth restaurant changed their entire menu to “Grilled Cheese Night.” It was incredible. Nancy even published a book in 2005 Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book: The Best Sandwiches Ever - from Thursday Nights at Campanile. Get it… that grilled cheese changed my life.
She’s won a ton of awards. In 1991 she won the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef Award. She won the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef Award in 2014, the Beard Awards’ most prestigious honor.
She has written 8 books on everything from bread to sandwiches to desserts to just cooking for friends.
If you happen to be in Los Angeles, check out her restaurant with celebrity chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich, Osteria Mozza. It’s spectacular. It was given a Michelin star in 2008 and still holds it to this day. And check out her luxury gelato line Nancy’s Fancy that is sold in supermarkets. Every flavor is incredible. She also has Pizzeria Mozza, Mozza2Go and Chi Spacca in Hollywood, and Osteria Mozza has opened restaurants in Newport Beach, CA and Singapore.
Nancy forged her own path in a male dominated world. She followed her heart while raising three children, and ended up on the top of the world for foodies like me. What a beautiful role model.
Buy her books at:
and follow her at www.instagram.com/nancysilverton
and go eat at Mozza! https://la.pizzeriamozza.com/restaurant/nancy-silverton/