Nancy Silverton began her career in Sonoma, Calif., where she started working in a vegetarian kitchen in her college dormitory. After discovering that cooking was her passion, she decided to pursue a culinary education and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London. After graduating with a solid foundation in culinary arts, Silverton returned to the states to begin working at Michael's restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., under Jimmy Brinkley. It was there that Silverton discovered her passion for pastry, and so she returned to Europe to attend the Lenôtre culinary school in Plaisir, France to perfect her skills. Upon returning to the states, she was invited by Wolfgang Puck to be the head pastry chef at his world-renowned Southern California restaurant, Spago.
In June 1989, Silverton opened Campanile, with her partners Mark Peel and Manfred Krankl. It became one of Los Angeles's defining restaurants. When developing the restaurant menu and sourcing premium ingredients and vendors, Silverton soon realized that the bread she had tasted and studied in Europe was nowhere to be found in Los Angeles. In fact, there was no authentic artisanal bread in all of Southern California. Longing to serve a crisp crust and soft airy interior, with the tang of an all-natural sourdough starter, Silverton began teaching herself the ancient art of baking sourdough bread.
Little did Silverton know that her lesson in baking would become the nation's top artisanal bakery; on January 1, 1989, La Brea Bakery opened its doors in the 1,500-squarefoot storefront adjacent to Campanile. Silverton developed hundreds of recipes, and today La Brea's freshly baked breads are available in 17 countries, maintaining the signature taste, texture, and quality that was born on South La Brea Avenue so many years ago.
In 1990, Silverton was named Pastry Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. These days, you can still find her busy creating and innovating in the kitchen. In 2011 she released her eighth cookbook, The Mozza Cookbook, and opened a branch of the restaurant in Singapore.
In November 2006, Silverton opened her first new restaurant since departing Campanile in 2004. Pizzeria Mozza, one half of a two-part restaurant with her partners Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, opened to rave reviews. Osteria Mozza followed in July 2007 and was nominated as Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.
Silverton is also heavily involved in the Garden School Foundation of Los Angeles and meals-on-wheels programs in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. By supporting the Garden School Foundation's commitment to nutritional education in public grade schools and raising funds and awareness for the older people who are fed each day by meals-on-wheels programs, Silverton is dedicated to sharing her love of food with two very different generations. She practices what she preaches: "Simple, all-natural ingredients lead to artful nutrition."
In 2003, Silverton was nominated as a member of the Marshall Field's (now Macy's) Culinary Council. Macy's has since opened six La Brea Bakery café kiosks: three in Chicago, one in Detroit, and two in Minneapolis, all inspired by the original bakery in Los Angeles.
Silverton has an amazing capacity for embracing the beauty of wonderful food and will undoubtedly continue to do so for the rest of her ingredient-inspired life. Each loaf, each leaf of lettuce, each lunch, is an entire world of its own waiting to be discovered, and she will never stop exploring.
2 cups Kosher salt
½ cup honey
5 lemons, sliced
20 bay leaves
1 bunch parsley
1½ heads garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ cup black peppercorns
2 bone-in short rib plates (2 3-rib sections of short ribs), about 8 pounds total
1 recipe Short-Rib Brine (above)
1⅓ cups black peppercorns
⅔ cup pink peppercorns
½ cup green peppercorns
½ cup white peppercorns
⅔ cup coriander seeds
1 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
½ cup celery, sliced
½ cup toasted walnuts
½ cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted
2 ounces chopped parsley
1 lemon, juiced
2 cups sake
7 ounces konbu seaweed
1 package firm tofu
1½ ounces white miso
½ teaspoon salt
6 teaspoons colatura
12 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish