Last week, we had the privilege of hanging out and cooking with the amazing Silvia Baldini. There’s not much Silvia doesn’t do – a former high-powered art director in NYC, she’s now a local chef, entrepreneur, super mom and all-around #girlboss. Did I mention she won Chopped with “the best dessert on this show ever”? Needless to say, we were thrilled she agreed to be featured in the second installment of our Chef Series!
Why did you go into cooking?
I needed a break from advertising! I wanted a family and a change of lifestyle. I had this idea about becoming a chef and going into the restaurant world but things evolved to where I am today. I now have a business where I can prioritize my children but still fulfill my passion and build something.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I like full, Mediterranean flavors, but I try to develop recipes that are healthy for you, your family and your body. They must always taste great! I don’t like it when people deprive themselves from ingredients and feel hungry – that’s the worst!
What’s your favorite type of meal to cook?
I really like cooking for groups, shared meals, and family meals. My family always has breakfast together every day. It’s a time for us to be positive and connect. I just love cooking breakfast! Poached eggs are a favorite of mine, and making pancakes for my kids. Another favorite breakfast treat is fresh fruit compote over yogurt.
What’s your favorite style of cuisine?
Italian and European is my favorite style, but I also love Middle Eastern spices and flavors. Those flavors make something simple and plain come alive!
What’s your favorite way to use butter?
OMG, there are so many ways! Definitely brown butter is a favorite. High quality, plain butter with salt and radishes – simple and perfect, especially when the butter is good. Butter is also wonderful for finishing sauces - it gives a smooth, velvety flavor.
How does making your own butter encourage creativity in the kitchen?
Compound butter is a quick way to elevate your recipes and add incredible flavor and texture. It’s a great way of cooking because it’s what I like to call “intuitive cooking” - very fresh, quick and impactful.
What’s your favorite compound butter you’ve ever tried?
The one I made today, which is based on the classic Italian dish bagna cauda. It’s made with capers, anchovies, garlic and herbs. It’s delicious on fish, and other proteins as well. I also love a merlot reduction in butter. It’s delicious on steak and gives the dish a beautiful, rich color.
If you could pick any chef (alive, dead, fictional, whatever) to cook with, who would it be?
I love Jacques Pepin. He’s a classic, old-fashioned kind of chef that really knew how to cook. He put effort into whatever he did and executed it well. He’s not just famous because he’s attractive or had great PR. He knows his craft and he did (and still does) it well.
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