Alumna Nancy Silverton
Nancy also founded the world-renowned La Brea Bakery, Campanile Restaurant and recently introduced Pizzeria Mozza to London with a branch located at the Treehouse Hotel in Marylebone.
Nancy has worked with some of the most notable and influential chefs in the USA, including Jonathan Waxman at Michael’s Restaurant and Wolfgang Puck at Spago. She has served as a mentor to numerous others who have gone on to become award-winning chefs and restaurant owners themselves.
Early in her career, Nancy was named Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef. In 2014, she received the highest honour given by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Chef. That year, she was listed as one of the Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink by both Fortune and Food and Wine Magazines. Nancy is the author of eight cookbooks, and was profiled on Netflix’s documentary series, Chef’s Table.
What was your professional experience before starting at Le Cordon Bleu London?
"I cooked for a semester at my college dormitory in 1972 and then spent the following three summers on school break working in modest restaurant kitchens in the San Fernando Valley aka ‘The Valley’. In 1976, the year before I went to Le Cordon Bleu, I did an apprenticeship at a popular upscale California style restaurant in Northern California called 464 Magnolia."
What made you decide to train in the culinary arts?
"It was a way to appease my parents when I chose not to return to college on the second semester of my senior year and pursue the culinary world. They felt that to make cooking my career I needed a formal education."
Why did you choose to come to Le Cordon Bleu London?
"My dad memorably told me ‘If you want a culinary career you should go to cooking school. And if you go, you need to go to the best and the best is Le Cordon Bleu’, I didn’t even know cooking school existed. Le Cordon Bleu has such a stellar reputation. At that time there were two campuses, one in France and one in London and since I didn’t speak French, it made sense to enrol in London."
How did your culinary training studying at Le Cordon Bleu London help you to start your career?
"It gave me a solid foundation and an understanding of the essential classics."
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
"Know that it is a very demanding profession, and you must be driven & passionate to succeed. Don’t be satisfied with ‘It’s all right’. Make it better. Then make it better. Then make it better. Then…"
What does Le Cordon Bleu represent for you in one word/sentence?
How would you describe your current role?
"I’m still tasting every day and trying to make it better."
What does your day-to-day look like?
"I start my day with a coffee and the paper followed by an hour walk. After I shower and dress, at around 10, 10:30 am, I head to the restaurants to check in starting with the Mozza Corner, then maybe I’ll go to Pizzette in Culver City, back to the Mozza corner, then off to The Barish at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, then check in again at the Corner before heading home around 10 p.m. For the record 'The Corner' is the intersection of Highland and Melrose in Los Angeles where Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, Chi Spacca and Mozza 2Go are located, about a mile and a half south of the heart of Hollywood. Lately, though, I’ve been pretty consumed with recipe testing and photographs for my new baking cookbook."
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
"Being pulled in so many different directions, opening new restaurants while also keeping the restaurants consistent and helping guide and encourage the chefs to create new dishes which can be quite time consuming."
How did it feel to receive your first Michelin star for Osteria Mozza?
"Proud and honoured, but at the same time understanding of the responsibility to continue to maintain it."
What is your inspiration?
"It might be a new dish I have at a restaurant or at someone’s home on my annual summer sojourn to Italy. I do not copy the dish outright, but it might inspire me to do my own variation."
What part of the role are you most passionate about?
"There are two roles. That of the mentor, working side by side with a cook on a dish they have created and that of being alone in my kitchen and tinkering with a dish over and over and over until I am satisfied."
How did you get into this role?
"It’s certainly cliché, but it’s my version of 'giving back'. When I was younger, so many were good to me, I am returning that to a new generation."
Finally, you have several restaurants and you are very hands-on in each - what are your plans for the future?
"I’m very fortunate to have such a great team, some who have been with me for over a decade, some who have been with me for only six months. I plan to continue to mentor and grow with my team as well as the Mozza brand. I just finished my latest baking cookbook which comes out in 2023."
Inspired by Nancy's journey? Find out how you can follow in her footsteps by visiting our programmes page to view the full list of courses available and start your culinary journey today.