Jump to content

Nancy Silverton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nancy Silverton
Silverton at St Mary's College in 2019
Born (1954-06-20) June 20, 1954 (age 69)
CitizenshipUnited States citizenship
EducationLe Cordon Bleu, London
Ecole Lenotre Culinary Institute
Years active1979 - present
Employer(s)Osteria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza
Notable workThe Mozza Cookbook
Breads from the LaBrea Bakery
(m. 1984; div. 2007)
AwardsOutstanding Chef, James Beard Foundation Award (2014)
Best of Food and Entertaining (1999) Bon Appétit
Pastry Chef of the Year, James Beard Foundation (1990)

Nancy Silverton (born June 20, 1954) is an American chef, baker, restaurateur, and author. The winner of the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef Award in 2014, Silverton is recognized for her role in popularizing sourdough and artisan breads in the United States.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Silverton grew up in Sherman Oaks and Encino, in Southern California's San Fernando Valley. Born into a Jewish family, her mother, Doris, was a writer for the soap opera General Hospital and her father, Larry, was a lawyer. Silverton enrolled at Sonoma State University as a political science major and decided to become a chef in her freshman year after she had what she later described as an epiphany. "I was cooking in the dorms in a stainless steel kitchen, cooking vegetarian food, and I remember this light bulb went on and I thought, 'Oh wait, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,' " she said in a 2013 interview.[2][3]

Silverton dropped out of Sonoma State in her senior year, and decided to train formally as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu in London. In 1979, following her graduation, she returned to Southern California, where she worked with pastry chef Jimmy Brinkeley and acclaimed chef Jonathan Waxman at Michael's, an acclaimed restaurant in Santa Monica. Inspired by his creativity, she returned to Europe to attend Ecole Lenotre Culinary Institute in Plasir, France, to further her studies.[3][4]


After Silverton returned to Los Angeles in 1982, she was hired by Wolfgang Puck as Spago's opening pastry chef, and in 1986, she wrote her first cookbook, Desserts.[5][6]

Campanile and La Brea Bakery[edit]

In 1989, Silverton, her then-husband, chef, the late Mark Peel, and Manfred Krankl opened Campanile, about which the late food critic Jonathan Gold would later write: "It is hard to overstate Campanile's contributions to American cooking."[7] Almost as an afterthought, Silverton and Peel opened La Brea Bakery in a space which adjoined the main restaurant prior to the opening of Campanile. Silverton served as the head baker at the bakery and the head pastry chef at the restaurant, which was located on La Brea Avenue in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles.[8]

Silverton had limited experience from baking bread while a pastry chef at Spago and began to experiment with recipes after she read an article about a San Francisco artisan bakery, Acme. She used grapes, which had natural yeast, and let them soak for days in flour and water. She then mixed the dough, shaped the loaves by hand, and let them rise twice over a two-day period. After six months and "hundreds" of attempts to perfect the recipe, she was satisfied. Artisan bread was then largely unknown in Los Angeles, and within weeks, sales were up to $1,000 a day at the bakery. On Thanksgiving in 1990, the line to buy bread stretched around the block and partway down a side street.[8][9]

Campanile was equally successful from the start. Silverton and Peel were well known through their work at Spago and Michael's, and Campanile was uniformly lauded by the press. Reservations were difficult, and during their first year, annual sales exceeded $2 million. Silverton would bake bread all night, sleep briefly, wake mid-morning to prepare pastries and desserts for the restaurant, and nap again before dinner. In 1991, she won the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Pastry Chef award. In an article on the awards, the Los Angeles Times wrote that she had "not only given Los Angeles great bread, but through her work at Campanile, she has virtually redefined what dessert is."[10]

In 1992, she and Krankl went back to the group of investors who had funded Campanile, and built a much larger, fully staffed, commercial bakery. At the same time, they split the bakery into a separate entity.

Silverton became less involved with the bakery in 1993, serving mainly as an advisor.

In 1996, her second book, Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur, was published.[11]

In 1998, Silverton began "Grilled Cheese Night" at Campanile, which became an establishment in Los Angeles. Described as the "godmother of grilled cheese sandwiches," by NBC's Today Show, "Grilled Cheese Night" started a worldwide trend.[12][13] Her book Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book: The Best Sandwiches Ever--from Thursday Nights at Campanile was published in 2005.[14]

In 2001, an Irish investment group, IAWS, purchased La Brea Bakery for a price that was reported as ranging from $56 million to $68.5 million. Silverton earned more than $5 million in the sale, and invested with Bernard Madoff; her profits were lost in 2008 with the collapse of his pyramid scheme.[8] In 2005, she and Peel separated, and Silverton left Campanile after their divorce in 2007.[citation needed] The restaurant closed in October 2012.[15]

Los Angeles Restaurants[edit]

Pizzeria Mozza[edit]

In 2007, Silverton partnered with Joseph Bastianich and his family's restaurant group to open Pizzeria Mozza on the corner of Melrose Ave and Highland Ave in Los Angeles, California. Widely recognized as one of the best pizzerias in the country, Pizzeria Mozza is known for its California ingredients and a much-talked-about crust.

In the words of the New York Times's Frank Bruni: “[the crust is] soft chewy in spots, crisply charred in others, ever so faintly sweet, even more faintly sour.” “Both tender and crackling crisp on the bottom, blistered and smoky from the wood-burning oven,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in its 2007 review.

Osteria Mozza[edit]

After the success of Pizzeria Mozza, Silverton and the team continued to open Osteria Mozza next door, with the emphasis on fine dining and highlighting traditional Italian cuisine with an emphasis on Californian seasonality. The dining room of the restaurant revolves around a white Carrara marble counter, referred to as the Mozzarella Bar, where guests can dine while watching the chefs prepare the specific dishes on the menu that highlight cheeses such as mozzarella, burrata, and more.

A year after opening, Osteria Mozza received its first Michelin star, a status the restaurant holds to this day. Osteria Mozza also holds a green Michelin star to celebrate its efforts for sustainable gastronomy.

chi SPACCA[edit]

Italian for he (or she) who cleaves, chi SPACCA opened in 2013 and was inspired by Silverton's idea of what an Italian butcher might cook for themselves. chi SPACCA was born of the wildly-popular family-style salumi night dinners hosted weekly at Scuola di Pizza, the previous occupant of the chi SPACCA space.

They also built the first “dry cure” program in Los Angeles in an effort to perfect Italian charcuterie techniques in-house. Open daily for dinner, chi SPACCA is an “ode to meat, beautiful meat,“ as well as boldly seasoned fish dishes,  an ever-changing array of caramelized farmers' market vegetables, and salads.

Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach[edit]

Similar to its Los Angeles location, Silverton opened Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach in 2012.


Silverton opened a casual Italian restaurant specializing in small pizzas in the fall of 2019 in Culver City, California called Pizzette. The restaurant closed in 2023.

The Barish[edit]

Located in the famed Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The Barish, coming from her maternal grandmother's name and taking inspiration from the family's farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, served modern Italian food. In the fall of 2023, the restaurant's closing was announced.

Other US & International Restaurant Locations[edit]

Nancy's Fancy[edit]

In June 2015, Silverton launched Nancy's Fancy. A luxury line of seven flavors of gelato and sorbetto, Nancy's Fancy, is sold in supermarkets. The company's original location was based in Chatsworth, California;[16] however, they have since relocated to a 6,000 square foot warehouse in the Arts District of Downtown, Los Angeles.[17]

The Farmhouse at Ojai Valley Inn[edit]

Silverton was named Culinary Ambassador of the new Farmhouse food and event space in Ojai, California, in early 2019.[18] As the Culinary Ambassador, Silverton co-hosts a variety of events with the team at the Ojai Valley Inn and participated in the first ever Ojai Food + Wine Festival.

Personal life[edit]

Silverton serves as mentor to the team of pastry chefs at Short Cake Bakery, a bakery she helped her longtime friend, the late Amy Pressman, to open.

She has been a member of the Macy's Culinary Council since 2003 and is involved in the Meals on Wheels programs in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.[19] She frequently participates in charity events supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand, No Kid Hungry, and the Los Angeles Food Bank.

In 2023, Silverton started a podcast with long-time friends Ruth Reichl and Laurie Ochoa entitled "Three Ingredients" via Substack.

Silverton has three children. Since 2003, Nancy has lived with Los Angeles journalist Michael Krikorian.

Selected awards and distinctions[edit]

  • Eater's TV Chef of the Year (2017)[20]
  • Outstanding Chef, James Beard Foundation Award (2014)[21]
  • International Star Diamond Award for Outstanding Hospitality (2010)
  • RCA Pioneer Award (2003)
  • James Beard, nominated for Outstanding Service (2003)
  • James Beard, nominated for Outstanding Service (2002)
  • James Beard Outstanding Restaurant Award, Campanile (2001)
  • IACP Julia Child Cookbook Awards Nominee (1997)
  • James Beard, Nominee, Best Cookbook of the Year, Baking (1997)
  • Los Angeles Culinary Master of the Year, The 1994 Fine Spirit Wine & Food Tasting Exhibition (1994)
  • James Beard "Who's Who in American Cooking" (1990)
  • James Beard Best Pastry Chef of the Year (1990)
  • Food & Wine Magazine, Best New Chefs (1990)

Selected appearances[edit]


  • Desserts. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0061817700. 1986.
  • Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton at Home: Two Chefs Cook for Family & Friends. With Mark Peel. Warner Books. ISBN 0446517364. 1994
  • Breads from the La Brea Bakery. Villard Books. ISBN 0-679-40907-6. 1996
  • The Food of Campanile: Recipes from the Famed Los Angeles Restaurant. With Mark Peel. Villard Books. ISBN 0812992032. 1997
  • Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery. Villard Books. ISBN 0-375-50193-2. 2000.
  • Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book: The Best Sandwiches Ever—from Thursday Nights at Campanile. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41260-3. 2005.
  • A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags, and Boxes. Knopf. ISBN 1400044073. 2007.
  • The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. With Matt Molina, Carolynn Carreno and Mario Batali. Knopf. ISBN 0307272842. 2011.
  • Mozza at Home: MORE THAN 150 CROWD-PLEASING RECIPES FOR RELAXED, FAMILY-STYLE ENTERTAINING: A COOKBOOK. With Carolynn Carreno. Penguin Random House ISBN 978-0-385-35432-5
  • Chi Spacca: A New Approach to American Cooking. With Ryan DeNicola and Carolynn Carreno. Penguin Random House. ISBN 978-0-525-65465-0
  • The Cookie That Changed My Life: And More Than 100 Other Classic Cakes, Cookies, Muffins, and Pies That Will Change Yours: A Cookbook. With Carolynn Carreno. Penguin Random House. ISBN 978-0-593-32166-9, 978-0-593-32167-6.


  1. ^ Hallock, Betty (May 5, 2014). "Nancy Silverton wins Outstanding Chef at James Beard Awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  2. ^ Lurie, Joshua (September 23, 2013). "Interview: Nancy Silverton (Mozza Restaurant Group)". foodgps.com. Food GPS. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b Witchel, Alex (October 25, 2011). "Mozzarella as Medium and Muse". New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  4. ^ Trueting, Jennifer (5 September 2008). "Nancy Silverton saved sourdough in American culinary culture, becoming one of the world's top bakers". delish.com. Delish.
  5. ^ "Desserts". culinate.com. Culinate. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  6. ^ Baum, Gary (February 22, 2014). "L.A. A-LIST CHEF NANCY SILVERTON GETS SERIOUS ABOUT PORK". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  7. ^ Gold, Jonathan (September 29, 2012). "el Campanile closing? The dining scene loses a standard-setter". Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Parsons, Russ (January 29, 2014). "Nancy Silverton looks back at 25 years of La Brea Bakery". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  9. ^ Fromartz, Samuel (October 1, 2001). "Rising Empire L.A. chef Nancy Silverton sold her ultra-trendy bread-baking business for millions. So how'd she pull that off without selling out?". CNN/Fortune. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  10. ^ Reichl, Ruth (May 16, 1991). "Food Oscars : The James Beard Awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur". publishersweekly.com. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  12. ^ Balla, Lesley (May 17, 2014). "5 Reasons to Love Nancy Silverton". zagat.com. Zagat. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  13. ^ Virbila, S. Irene (October 20, 1998). "At Campanile, a Special Night for the Grilled Cheese Sandwich". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Silverton's sandwiches are heaven-sent". today.com. NBC/Today Show. April 14, 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  15. ^ Green, Emily (October 24, 2010). "An Elegy for Campanile". LA Weekly. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  16. ^ Parsons, Russ (January 7, 2015). "Nancy Silverton launches new line of fancy ice creams". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Eater Interviews: Nancy Silverton of Mozza Group and Nancy's Fancy". Eater LA. 2015-05-07. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  18. ^ "Nancy Silverton plans to host some epic dinner parties in Ojai, and you're invited". Los Angeles Times. 26 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Guest Chefs To Help Meals On Wheels". Chicago Tribune. February 21, 1991. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  20. ^ "Nancy Silverton is Eater's TV Chef of the Year". 5 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Nancy Silverton wins Outstanding Chef at James Beard Awards". Los Angeles Times. 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2023-06-14.
  22. ^ DeJesus, Erin (2017-02-17). "'Chef's Table' Recap: Nancy Silverton". Eater. Retrieved 2023-06-14.
  23. ^ Surprise!, 13 July 2018, retrieved 2019-06-28
  24. ^ Morabito, Greg (2018-07-07). "Netflix's 'Somebody Feed Phil' Finds an Easygoing Groove in Season 2". Eater. Retrieved 2019-06-28.
  25. ^ "'Top Chef' All-Stars Los Angeles Recap: Episode 5—'Bring Your Loved One to Work'". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  26. ^ "A hot oil mishap didn't stop Newhall 'MasterChef Junior' contender an…". archive.vn. 2020-06-30. Archived from the original on 2020-06-30. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  27. ^ "MasterChef". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  28. ^ "Nancy Silverton". IMDb.

External links[edit]