Meet Silvia Baldini -- Chopped Champion
1) Tell us about where you grew up in Italy and how it has influenced your cooking
I was born and raised in Turin, Italy; a town where the bond to your own family is as strong as the one for beautiful food and good wines. I always say I grew up under my mother’s kitchen table playing with snippet of pasta and leftover dough. I learned to appreciate wholesome cooking and to respect ingredients from the start.
We cooked all the times and we never wasted anything. I have been around the world and back. I trained with the best chef and worked in very impressive and famous kitchen but my italian upbringing and the traditions I learned as a child have lingered with me and they influence my cooking to these days.
2) You have had an interesting career path, when did you come to America and what did you do before you became a Chef?
I moved to California when I was 17 because my father took a job in Los Angeles. It was a bold move at the time. My father, a widow and 3 children in tow. It opened my horizons. I chose an art school and I graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I then moved to New York to work in advertising. Following a distinguished and award-winning career as an art director on Madison Avenue, When I met my lovely Bolognese husband, he encouraged me to follow my passions and soI pursued culinary training at ICC in NYC and Cordon Bleu in London. I worked at Michelin-star kitchens in Europe including the Ritz Carlton in London, and Ottolenghi. Then I moved back here in CT.
3) How did it feel to win Chopped Champion, what was the most amazing result of victory?
Winning Chopped was really fun and certainly a great accomplishment. I now have been back three times and I also was just featured in Bobby Flay. However, what I really cherish is the look of joy and pride my kids had when I told them I won. It takes a lot to impress children and pre-tens but I think I did it.
4) How long have you lived in CT and where are favorite spots for food shopping?
I have now been in CT for 8 years and I absolutely love it. There is no other place I would raise my family or build my business. It’s such a vibrant and beautiful place. The food scene is growing and interesting. There are a lot of talented chefs with new and solid ideas that are making CT more and more a food forward destination. I think It’s better than Brooklyn. More real. We need real these days.
I shop a lot at farmers market. Nothing better than buying directly from the source! And I love the food Chef Duane and Lisa are creating here at the Perfect Provenance. They have a vision and a point of view.
5) What does wholesome Italian cooking mean to you? What can people expect to learn in your class?
Italian cooking means wholesome, real, good ingredients, no gimmicks. I think well executed Italian food is clean, natural but packed with big flavors that come from the beauty of the produce and the simple techniques.
Italian food is instinctive not contrived. I love teaching because it gives me a chance to share my vision and to freely talk about and demonstrate how to achieve powerful simple and nourishing dishes.
During my classes I talk about how to get organized, prep and how to create vibrant and flavorful dishes using the best, unprocessed, seasonal ingredients and explore quick and simple meals that combine on Italian and seasonal cooking principles.