Chef Nancy Silverton
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending a cooking demonstration at Macy's with Chef Cat Cora. It was so fabulous to have a front row seat to watch (and sample) food being made from such a talented chef. A few months later, Chef Tom Douglas came to town and I learned all about making crab cakes, plus there was a photo op and a signed cookbook to take home. I never thought I would be so lucky to have a third chance to watch and learn from yet another great chef, this time Chef Nancy Silverton. Chef Silverton is the co-founder of La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, owner of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, author of several cookbooks, an acclaimed pastry chef, winner of too many awards to mention (a current James Beard Foundation nominee), and she even cooked with Julia Child! It didn't take me long to request the day off from work and get my name on the list....
The bar at Mozza always includes a seasonal acqua fresca (a sparkling non-alcoholic fruit juice drink). Nick, the bartender, created this drink made with kumquats, cucumber, and basil. Very refreshing!
Macy's Culinary Council is made up of a group of very distinguished chefs from around the country that are dedicated to inspiring you to eat, cook, and enjoy food at home, just like they would make it. Chef Silverton demonstrated two salads for us and ended on a sweet note with a shortbread cookie. Both of the salads had a basic Lemon Vinaigrette as a component, yet each salad was completely different. The first, a hearty Kale Salad, was comprised of marinated anchovies, ricotta salata, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Between the zesting, and the chopping, Chef Silverton inspired us with little hints. One suggestion: Save the best EVOO for drizzling on things--use a good EVOO for the actual recipe.
Chef Silverton bakes the ricotta salata, imparting a beautiful brown color, a bit of a smoky flavor, and a longer shelf life.
Off to the side, the Macy's staff prepared salads for all of us to try.
My sister was a big help, holding all of the food so that I could take pictures....
The next salad, Sweet Gem Lettuce with Bufala Mozzarella, Cucumber, and Yogurt was a little more delicate, so the dressing had the Lemon Vinaigrette with an added yogurt dressing to better coat the tender leaves. Chef Silverton isn't one for garnishes just for garnish sake...she likes them to be a part of the dish, and to have good flavor. This salad was garnished with chive flowers for looks and for flavor.
It turns out that Chef Silveton is not a huge fan of sweet desserts. She does, however, make a fabulous, not too sweet, ending to a meal with her Rosemary Pine-Nut Cookies. A shortbread dough with polenta in the mix is made up ahead of time so that it has plenty of time to chill. Then, a pine nut nougatine is made up. After the cookie dough is rolled and cut into shapes, a bit of the nougatine is put in the center, along with a couple of rosemary sprigs. The result is a really unique, not-to-sweet, cookie.
Macy's Culinary Council went all out for this cooking demonstration with Chef Silverton. As an incentive, if we spent $35 in the home department, we received in return a free copy of Chef Silverton's book, The Mozza Cookbook (a $35 value) and a $10 giftcard. Of course, I found a few things to buy...who doesn't need a new Silpat every now and then? We also had a chance to have Chef Silverton sign our books...Nice!
As a final, nice touch, Macy's gave me an additional signed copy of The Mozza Cookbook to share with one of my readers. I'm going to make it easy for you to enter--simply leave a comment telling me what your favorite Italian dish is. Please use the Rafflecopter gadget to enter--that way you can leave your email address and no one will see it. :)--then leave a comment as you normally would. Rafflecopter will pick the winner for me at random. I will open this giveaway to residents of the USA over 18 years of age. The winner will be chosen on April 10th.
Do you live near a Macy's? I suggest you check to see if a chef from the Culinary Council will be visiting your city. These events are free and make for such a fun day. I can't wait to see who the next chef will be! Oh--and my favorite Italian dish? Pizza! (I plan on trying out the pizza dough recipe in my new cookbook).
Disclaimer: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post about Macy's Culinary Council. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.