September 17, 2021

Q&A with Nancy Silverton

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Nancy Silverton is co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza, Michelin starred Osteria Mozza and chi SPACCA as well as the founder of La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, the birthplace of the artisan bread movement in the U.S. Winner of the James Beard Foundation's highest honour – the ‘Outstanding Chef Award’ – in 2014, Silverton was also listed as one of the ‘Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink’ by both Fortune and Food & Wine in the same year. In 2017, she was profiled in an episode in the third series of Netflix’s popular docu-series, Chef’s Table. Silverton is the author of nine cookbooks, including the Mozza Cookbook and Breads from La Brea Bakery.

Nancy Silverton Portrait

Favourite London landmark and why?

Hmm, that’s a tough one but it might be the Tube because when I am on the train it’s like I am embarking on a new adventure.

What’s your almost-too-good-to-share tip for the perfect London adventure? 

Do you know that song “Let’s Get Lost”*, performed most famously, by Chet Baker? Listen to that song and start walking in London without a destination, without a plan, go where your shoes and the sidewalks take you and you’ll have what I think is just about the perfect London adventure.

The opening lines are:

“let’s get lost, lost in each other’s arms,

let’s get lost, let them send out alarms.”

What would your desert island dish be and why?  

Bread and butter. My bread and butter from Rodolphe le Menunier’s salted beurre de baratte made in the Loire Valley in France.

Where did the name Pizzeria Mozza come from?

Mozza is short for Mozzarella plus and this is key, La Mozza is the name of the wine from Mozza co-owner Joe Bastianich.

What’s your favourite accompaniment to a Pizzeria Mozza pizza? 

A dear friend an a good movie, maybe a film noir from the 40s or early 50s but you can’t do that at the restaurant so I guess the dear friend and some good gossip. Or, if I am in a drinking mood, a good glass of red wine. When I am in Umbria for a month or two in the summer, my choice is often a Sagrantino di Montefalco from my friend Lorenzo Mattoni’s Cantina Terre de Trinci, or a rich Brunello di Montalcino.

What do you think are the biggest differences between the LA and London food scene? 

The view.  You’re eating at Pizzeria Mozza London and look outside those nice big windows and an array of pedestrians walk by, a red double decker bus swoops along, the architecture of the neighboring buildings is impressive. In my hometown, diners at my beloved Pizzeria Mozza look out at a oil change shop and two gas stations.

As far as the larger LA versus London food scene, it has become quite similar in that London offers the world on a plate in such delicious fashion, and that’s a trait Los Angeles has long been known for. 

When visiting a farmers market what are you looking for? 

A farmer whose product, be it a raspberry or a tomato or a watermelon captures the very intense essence of that fruit or vegetable.

Who are your favourite Chefs?

Are you trying to get my friends mad at me for not mentioning them? There’s way too many, but I’ll just say Jonathan Waxman. Joel Robuchon and Fredy Girardet were two that stood out in the 20th Century.

What’s your fondest memory of London from when you were a student at Le Cordon Bleu?

There is not a single “fondest” that stands out but the reoccurring thought I had while tubing and walking to class which was something like “Wow. I am going to school at Le Cordon Bleu. How cool is that?”

What’s in store for you in 2021?   

Mozza’s in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, now London and in the fall, Baja in Mexico. Plus, a much- needed getaway to my little home in Umbria. There might be a couple more Mozzas in the works, so stay tuned.

Did you have a Treehouse growing up, or what’s your favourite childhood memory? 

I didn’t have a treehouse growing up, but I was frightened once into thinking we would have to live inside of a tree for a while when I was about seven or eight. Let me explain. We were in Yosemite National Park: my dad, my mom, my sister and I. There was a famous giant Sequoia tree in Yosemite’s Mariposa Groove called the Wawona Tunnel Tree. It was a Sequoia so big that they had cut a hole though its base and people from all over thew world would actually drive their cars through the tree. 

So one time, my dad, Lorenzo, he pretends to run out of gas right as we are passing through the Wawona Tree. He said something like. “Oh, no! There’s no gas stations around here for miles. We might have to spend the night in this big tree.”  So, it seems poetically appropriate that this week I am living in a hotel called Treehouse.

* "Let's Get Lost" was written by Jimmy McHugh and Frank Loesser

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