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300th Episode & Nancy Silverton Transcript

 Chef nancy silverton spills the beans

Kerry Diamond: Hey, Bombesquad. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe, the number one female-focused food podcast in the entire universe. I'm your host, Kerry Diamond, coming to you from Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. I'm down here seeing my family, and it's a beautiful place. And guess what? We have a lot to celebrate today because today is our 300th episode, and our guest is one of our favorites: Chef Nancy Silverton. You might know Nancy from her Chef's Table episode, or her Mozza restaurants in Los Angeles, or her how-to videos on the new YesChef platform. Or maybe you heard Nancy when she and her best friend Ruth Reichl were guests on our 100th episode. Any of you remember that one?

Anyway, thank you for everyone who has taken this journey with Cherry Bombe. I'd especially like to thank our original host, Julia Turshen, who had the idea to do a podcast back in 2014, and Heritage Radio Network, which was the original home of Radio Cherry Bombe for several years. Be sure to stay tuned to the end because I have a lot more people to thank, including you and our other amazing listeners. We'll be back in a minute with Chef Nancy Silverton for a chat about beats, focaccia, bread knives and her brand new cookbook. It's called Chi SPACCA: A New Approach to American Cooking, and it celebrates her LA restaurant of the same name. Before we get on with our celebration, let's hear a word from our sponsor, Kerrygold. And thank you to Kerrygold. They have been a great supporter of Radio Cherry Bombe throughout the years.

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Kerry Diamond: Now, here's number 300, my interview with Chef Nancy Silverton.

Kerry Diamond: Nancy Silverton, welcome back to Radio Cherry Bombe. You, as always, have been very busy over the past several months.

Nancy Silverton: I'm about, and when I say about I mean in the next 14 days, to open two new restaurant concepts, both of which are behind in schedule. Nothing to do with COVID, only to do with construction. So they're both now going to be opening in the next 14 days. So, we'll see what that brings.

Kerry Diamond: What are the two concepts Nancy?

Nancy Silverton: So the smallest concept is a quick-serve restaurant in a very small food court in Culver City. So I'm sharing that space with only six vendors, and the name of that quick-serve concept in Pizette. It's going to be small, little pizza. They were designed because in Culver City right now there was supposed to be, I should say, a huge boom in office space with huge companies moving in to that area. Everyone is working from home, so we're going to see how that transpires, but it was designed for people to be able to come, pick up lunch, bring it back to their office cubicle and work next to their computer.

So small pizza, taking that same dough, and baking it in a pita sized, I hope that was clear. Pita size, not pizza size, making sandwiches, stuffing them from above in the more traditional swarma/falafel type of sandwich. And then also a few salads. So it's a small concept. I'm super excited about it. I think that the combinations are great. We'll see how that goes.

And then the larger undertaking, which we're only opening a very small part of that and we're opening outdoors, and for those of you that know Hollywood and know Hollywood history, one of the most iconic hotels that we have in Los Angeles is called the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. And I've been hired to take over and we redid the restaurant, so food in the restaurant itself, food in the lobby, and food in a wine and cheese bar that I'm opening. That is all kind of on hold, because we're not allowed to return indoors yet.

Instead I'm doing kind of a pop up, a little flavor of each of those three concepts in a very beautiful tree-lined patio that they have on the outside grounds of the hotel. What I'm opening is a restaurant called The Barish. It's going to be... Only because I needed to come up with, "What are you doing?" kind of answer, it's going to be an Italian steakhouse. And I'm honoring my father's side of the family. They were cattle farmers from Saskatchewan, Canada. And so their last name was Barish. So it's going to be called the Barish.

And then the cheese bar and wine bar will be named after my father, whose name was Lawrence or Lorenzo, and next to Lorenzo's is a small little private dining room which I'll be calling The Writer's Room, which is named after my mother, who was a television writer. So I get to honor my whole family and my history, and I'm very excited and proud. But when that will be open in full form? Your guess is as good as mine. But right now it's going to be just a pop up to get, not only a little bit of excitement going, but I got to start employing some of the staff that we hired over a year ago to help spearhead this new endeavor.

Kerry Diamond: Nancy, what are the dates of the pop up, in case people want to check it out?

Nancy Silverton: So we're opening on the 21st, supposedly, and that will be five days a week we're going to run that for.

Kerry Diamond: Okay great. We'll spread the word on Instagram and whatnot. But I have no doubt that will be a tough table to get given how popular you are in Los Angeles. But I can't wait for all those concepts to open. All right, let's talk about chi SPACCA, because you have a brand new cookbook coming out that's all about chi SPACCA. And you worked on it with our mutual friend, Carolyn Carreño. And tell me about Ryan. I don't know Ryan.

Nancy Silverton: Ryan is the executive chef of chi SPACCA. He was not the opening chef. Chad Colby was the opening chef. Ryan was his sous, and then filled his shoes when Chad had left to originally help Curtis Stone, and then I think he helped April Bloomfield a little when she opened her restaurant here. So Ryan's been running it for a while, and it was really the first cookbook... I'm 10 cookbooks into my repertoire, right? And so when I was... My agent comes to me every couple years and says, "Okay you're ready to do another one." She always gives me a little breathing room, and so she always gives me a little bit of space before she says, "Okay what's next?" And so the logical book to do was definitely chi SPACCA, but I wanted to turn that over to Ryan, who was running the restaurant, and try to take a little bit more of a back seat to the, really, the grueling process of writing a cookbook.

There was more involvement than I had originally planned, but I just really wanted to have him own the experience of what it takes to put the work that's necessary into a cookbook. So I was happy to get him on the cover. I was able to get Matt Molina on the cover of the Mozza cookbook, because he had so much to do with that cookbook too. And I think it's important. I think that it's a fallacy to think that us restaurant owners that have multiple books actually sit down and write every single word and develop every single recipe. So I was really happy that, in this book, I got Ryan on the cover, I got Carolyn on the cover, who really keeps the whole process together. And of course myself. But it's definitely a cookbook that was written and developed through committee.

Kerry Diamond: And Carolyn is our mutual friend. I was happy to see that she's back.

Nancy Silverton: Oh yeah. Couldn't do it without her. And what's so great about writing a cookbook where you maintain someone that's as important and strategic as an author, is that you don't have to dot every I and cross every T. She knows. She's been bored when I say, "Okay in a large sauté pan..." She says, "I know, over medium heat. Fill the pan." She knows all of the basics that are necessary to write a recipe that works.

Kerry Diamond: So the subtitle of the book is A New Approach to American Cooking. Why did you call it that?

Nancy Silverton: That was something that I really toyed with because I didn't know what that subhead should be, because I don't even know what to call chi SPACCA. I know that Joe taught me years ago when we first partnered up that you need to be able to say what your concept is within five seconds. Otherwise, you're going to lose everybody's attention. So it was so easy. Pizzeria. We do pizza. Osteria, traditional Italian three-course restaurant. And then chi SPACCA happened, and I still have trouble describing what it is because chi SPACCA just happened. It was not something that was conceptualized.

So what is chi SPACCA? At some point we called it a butcher-friendly restaurant. But it really isn't just a butcher-friendly restaurant. There's so many terrific salads. There's a great antipasto. We have lots of vegetables. So what is chi SPACCA? And the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that this is the way that Americans are not only cooking now, but so many restaurateurs, their food is not as identifiable. And I don't mean that it's a product of what I find to be not, to me, a positive trait, but more negative, is it's not fusion cooking, either. It's just embracing a lot of cooking techniques and a lot of ingredients. And so that's why it says A New Approach to American Cooking.

Kerry Diamond: Well I ate there once, and it was such a good meal. I usually go to Osteria Mozza, because I just love that spot and I love seeing you. You're there a lot. But chi SPACCA was such a revelation. It was so good, from the antipasto all the way to the dessert. We just loved everything.

Nancy Silverton: Well, thank you.

Kerry Diamond: So tell us some recipe highlights. Walk us through one recipe that you love.

Nancy Silverton: There are so many I love and so many that I love to share. I think one that people are really looking forward to, those that are going to take the effort to make it at home, is the Focaccio from Recca, which is a very tiny town in Liguria, that I think is one, definitely, of our comeback meals. I think every restaurant has to have those dishes that bring people back, or people say, "I'm here because I need to have..." And then they say what it is. And for us, it's always the focaccio di recco. It's on everybody's table, and that's possible because the restaurant's so small. That would not be possible if it was a 200 seat restaurant. But it is possible, and it is. For those of our audience that don't know what it is, it's in the focaccia family, but it's not a traditionally recognized focaccia, meaning a yeasted dough. It's more a strudel, or it is a strudel. There's no yeast in it. It's something that's stretched very thinly. It's baked in copper pans. It is filled with a fresh cow's milk cheese called a stracchino.

And Ruth is the one that – it was just so funny – that was able to pick up on the nuances, or the flavor, of that dish. It's something that I never said anything to anybody, but Ruth, the first time she had it she came home – she was staying at my house – And she said how much she loved it, And she said, "Do you know what it reminds me of?" And I said, "Yup. Matzo and butter." And she's like, "Yes that's it." So the two of us both had that palate remembrance of what it tastes like when you have matzo and butter. So it's very simple, very plain, and yet it is something that's so unusual. So we have a step-by-step recipe with Ryan stretching the dough. So I think that that's really a highlight in the book, because people now can make it at home.

Kerry Diamond: So can people really recreate this?

Nancy Silverton: Absolutely. I do say, and you can order the pans from Amazon, you do need that copper pan, and the reason you need it is the way that it conducts the heat and the shape. But this dough is not baked in a wood-burning oven or anything like that. So in a home oven, it helps to have a pizza stone to conduct the heat on the bottom even better. And it's one of those things, it does take a little practice. When you look at the photos of Ryan stretching the dough, it's like anything else. "That's so easy. I can do it." And then you go to do it, and it's a little bit difficult. But I will say that the way that I taught my cooks here how to make the focaccia is by looking at a YouTube video of the restaurant where I had that focaccia, which is called Manuelina. And I talk about in the book. So you can see it on YouTube as well. With a little bit practice, yes, it is doable at home.

Kerry Diamond: Well I love that even the best chefs in the world rely on YouTube.

Nancy Silverton: Yeah exactly. I say now, and it's really true, people, cooks, restaurateurs, don't have an excuse anymore not to make something delicious. With the amount of cookbooks that are out there, with the amount of Instagrams out there, with YouTube, there's no secrets anymore. So that is really true.

Kerry Diamond: And when we finish taking about the cookbook, we will talk about your videos with YesChef, which are very interesting.

Nancy Silverton: Oh sure. The other, Ryan gives a really good tutorial on grilling and what it means to grill and how to light an oven and how to cook with wood, because it's very different. But he also points out something that I also definitely believe, that grilled food is not food that tastes better because it has black lines on it, and that's something to really remember. That grilled food tastes good for reasons. One is the flavor of the wood. But the other is because of the heat, it's the caramelization of the proteins. And if you're not going to cook with wood or charcoal, and you only have a gas grill that doesn't have the ability to heat up to a very high temperature, then don't cook that way, make a lot of this food in a cast iron pan, both a grill pan or a cast iron pan, because you'll get far better flavor than you will just steaming your food on a low BTU gas grill. And that's something that's, I think, really important.

Kerry Diamond: I mean, I always rely on roasting. I mean I have a small studio in Brooklyn, and when you said grill pan, I was like, "Oh I never thought of getting a grill pan." But does it really do anything other than just put those black lines?

Nancy Silverton: Oh yeah. You can get it so hot. And I actually have a new collaboration with the company Made In. And I'm going to be doing a grill pan. I did a bread knife for them, which is just exceptional, but I'm doing a grill pan with them, not that it's any different than their marketing with my cookbook. So the handle of this beautiful square grill pan, which is a great shape by the way, easier to deal with than a round cast iron pan, is that it has the beautiful blue enamel handle that complements the blue of the spine of my cookbooks. And you don't have to have those lines. No. What's nice is the fat drips through it, right? So that is one benefit. And if you like the look of those lines. But anything cast iron. I love cast iron griddles that I put on my one or two burners at home, for larger pieces of steak or fish. Those are great.

Kerry Diamond: I have so many notes of things to ask you. But let's finish on the cookbook. Can you tell us another recipe that has a fun story, or that's really meaningful to you?

Nancy Silverton: I love all of the recipes I have that use recipes from Dario, whether it's Dario Cecchini, the butcher from Tuscany, whether it's his Tuscan beans or his whipped lardo. I love bringing friends into my recipes and into the head notes.

Kerry Diamond: You dedicated the book to him too, right?

Nancy Silverton: Yeah. I did because I'll tell you, eating with him and also eating with him in our mutual friend Faith Willinger's kitchen, just brings everything together. And what I miss the most, when people ask me what do I miss the most during this pandemic, it's eating with people and eating with friends and the spirit of dining in a table. And that's what I get with him, and Kim his wife and my friend, Faith and her husband Massimo. That's what I miss and that's what I can't wait to return to.

Kerry Diamond: Same. Exactly. All right let's talk one more recipe. Do you want to talk about those Tuscan beans? Everyone's crazy for beans now.

Nancy Silverton: Oh wow. Yes. What I love about Dario's beans is, first of all, it takes an Italian to know how to cook a bean. And you will never get a bean from an Italian that's al dente.

Kerry Diamond: Al dente beans are the saddest thing in the world.

Nancy Silverton: They are so sad. And when I have them, and I have them at great restaurants and I think, "Did you taste them?" Beans are not supposed to be al dente. He always uses cannellini beans, and he cooks them with olive oil the way I love it. But what I love having them in his restaurant is that, on the table when you sit family style... Remember what family style's like when you share food and you're at a long table with strangers sitting very close together? Remember that? That was the good old days. But he has on the table his Dario seasoned salt, which is the salt that is seasoned with wild herbs from the country side. He has a good bottle of aggressive Tuscan oil, and red wine vinegar on the table. And I love the way he taught me how to make beans, which is-

Kerry Diamond: I just got goosebumps listening to that.

Nancy Silverton: Aw. Just ladling them out, brothy beans, into a bowl, throwing in fingers full of his salt, drizzling his Italian olive oil, a few drops of the red wine vinegar. So, so delicious. And I love to eat like that. I love to season and personalize and add seasoning to food as I eat. And it just adds so much more to the experience.

Kerry Diamond: Oh it sounds like heaven. Tell us about the recipe. How does he even start?

Nancy Silverton: He soaks his beans, which I think is really important when the beans are dried. We use both dried cannellini, but of course during season, we use fresh. We still have them available from our farmer's market, just winding down right now. You don't need to soak them when they're fresh. I love to add the aromatics of garlic and onion and carrot and celery, some fresh sprigs of rosemary and sage. I know there's different schools of pre salting or not. I do salt my beans as they cook. I do salt with restraint, and that's because as the broth reduces, obviously the salt becomes more concentrated. I do find, just like in eggs, to salt afterwards is very hard to make up for the lack of salt form the beginning. But I think one of the most important parts of cooking beans is to keep that water level just about an inch or so above the bean. And then I continually add to it. But therefore, the liquid that the bean is soaking up is a very concentrated flavor rather than a watery one.

Kerry Diamond: All good advice. Beans befuddle me, and I don't know what it is. When I make Rancho Gordo beans, which are beautiful-

Nancy Silverton: Oh, I love them.

Kerry Diamond: They always come out perfectly. But a lot of times, and I love my farmer's market to death, but a lot of times the beans, they just never come out.

Nancy Silverton: Well the problem is, is that you're buying old beans, and that's why a place like Rancho Gordo, and when I buy my beans in Italy from the small farmers, they're always dated and I know I'm getting last year's crop. A great, great source of beans is definitely Gustiamo, which is... They're really good at selling only the prior year's crop. Rancho Gordo is great too, and obviously they are domestic. They're not imported.

Kerry Diamond: But I've almost given up on making homemade beans, I hate to say it.

Nancy Silverton: Don't give up.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. I've had so many fails, and they're not even al dente. Al dente would be an improvement over what I've wound up with sometimes. And I always think I'm doing something wrong, but maybe it's not me. Maybe it's the bean.

Nancy Silverton: But I have to say, and I don't say this with a lot of products, but there are a handful of premade, canned products out there that really do help. I know you know because I think I was even on your radio show or we talked about in the past, the cookbook I did, Twist of the Wrist years ago, where I used boxes and cans and bags of good, quality ingredients to help get food on the table quicker without compromising either nutrition or quality. So there are some good producers of canned, say, cannellini and borlotti beans that if you take them and heat them up again in extra virgin olive oil with some fresh herbs, you can get a pretty delicious, perfectly cooked bean with just a little bit of tweaking in like 10 minutes. Progresso lentil soup probably is the most go-to side dish of any well known chef because Progresso lentils, there's no preservatives, there's nothing. It's lentils and water, and they don't have to be soaked. They're precooked. And again, re-season them, they make the best under sauce for so many proteins.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, good tip, Nancy. Okay. Love that. All right. So we got some bean tips. That is wonderful. Let's move on because I'm so curious about Made In, and you referenced it. Made In is this direct to consumer, DTC, cookware line that these two young guys have launched. And I was just so curious because I know people come to you all the time with projects and want to put your name on things, and you don't say yes to a lot of projects. What was it about Made In that made you interested?

Nancy Silverton: Well first, I was first introduced to them by a really lovely letter from Tom Colicchio that he sent out to a lot of his friends saying, "Look I have these two guys and they're coming up with a cookware line. I've tested it. I think that it's really right up there in all other, both home and restaurant, quality cookware. I really think you should give it a try." And so when they reached out to me and asked very generously if they could send some pots and pans for us to test in our restaurant, would I be ready for that challenge? And so I was like, "Sure bring it on in." Which we did. And it's every bit as good as comparably priced pots and pans.

And then they returned and said, "We're doing some chef signature items. Is there anything you would like to do?" And I said, "I'd love to do a bread knife." And we started with that, and I got a friend to design a beautiful wooden box to house that knife, and they gave me... I worked back and forth. They told me it was going to be French forged, highest, highest level. They let me pick the handle, the riveting, the size, everything was perfect. There was no reason not to add my name to that knife. And then they returned with the idea of, what would I like to complement the cookbook? And that's when I thought about the grill pan, because I'm really a huge fan of cast iron grill pans. And it, too, is beautifully designed and it's just a perfect relationship, both the way they support in marketing and the generosity in the line that they've given me.

Kerry Diamond: Oh good. Well the knife looks beautiful. I read it's a fifth generation knife-maker in France.

Nancy Silverton: Yup.

Kerry Diamond: So very fancy. And it's a bit of a splurge. It's $169, but as far as good knives go-

Nancy Silverton: That's the price.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. That's the price. And I don't know why, I have always had really crappy bread knives.

Nancy Silverton: Oh, shame on you.

Kerry Diamond: I know, I know, I know. And anybody who has cut a beautiful loaf of bread with a bad bread knife, or worse, just hacked at it with anything you had, it's just the worst when you've got this beautiful bread and you're trying to get a really nice slice to do something beautiful with, you wind up with just these shreds of bread.

Nancy Silverton: With the current bread that everybody's buying, and I just take it for granted everybody is buying a crusty loaf of hearth-baked bread, you have to have a serrated knife that's strong, durable, sharp teeth, or you won't be able to cut through the crust. That's why you need one that holds it edge. And this one is done by the family, Sabatier family I believe, or that's the lineage of the knife makers, which goes back many generations. And you need one that really holds an edge because you can't sharpen it.

Kerry Diamond: So anyway the company's called Made In, and if you want to treat yourself, definitely check it out. It is direct to consumer, so you have to go to their website. And then Nancy, your other big project, you've made some how-to videos with a company called YesChef.

Nancy Silverton: Yeah. I was approached by them a few years ago. My guess is that they saw Chef's Table, is my guess. But they were just in the process of reaching out to a few chefs. And the reason why I said I'm sure they watched Chef's Table is because they knew what they wanted to accomplish, that they wanted to take all the beauty of a Chef's Table and all of that documentary kind of format, but add to it the cooking class maser class aspect. So I think what they're trying to do is combine those two ideas and turn it into these series of videos. Like I had said to you earlier, I have to say, I haven't watched it because I haven't gotten... And I haven't watched Chef's Table as well, nor other TV I'm in. It just gives me the heebie jeebies to watch myself on TV.

Kerry Diamond: Well you're in great company, as you know. Your buddy Dario is one there, and Sean Brock, and Francis Mallmann and lots of great people. So, I can't wait to watch that. Do you remember, what were some of the classes that you did?

Nancy Silverton: They came to Italy last summer when I was there. And so being respectful and not wanting to monopolize my vacation, they agreed to come... I had already been scheduled to make good at a meal that I was cooking from a couple of people that had bought it as a charity back in Los Angeles. They were flying to Italy to have dinner at my house. So I was going to be cooking for them. So what they did, meaning YesChef, was they came into my kitchen and followed by the day that I was making that meal. They were there for about 10 hours filming me as I cooked my way through that meal. I talked a little. I wasn't giving specific recipes at that time. I may have come back and given a few. And then we went, on that same three-day trip that they were there, to a bufala farm and I got a hang with bufala and see how bufala milk cheese was made, and we went to visit Dario. We went to a pizzeria. It was that kind of informal filming.

And then they came to my house, where I did some cooking with my friend, a friend of mine Deb, who used to cook here. We cooked a meal at my house for some friends, which I really loved, and we called it an Umbrian Persian meal, because she's Persian and I like to think that I'm Umbrian. And I really liked a lot of the food that we cooked. So we came back and created that meal for friends in Los Angeles. So we cooked together for that, and then I know that I cooked for myself, or I cooked a few things myself in front of the camera. I know I did an apple pie and a few other dishes. And then they followed me to, I believe, possibly the farmer's market, we were at the restaurant cooking, I know I collaborated on a dish with our chef Liz trying to illustrate the process of how we are inspired by either ingredients that we bring back from the farmer's market or something that someone drops off and what goes into the dialogue of collaborating on a dish together.

Kerry Diamond: Now Nancy, you went to culinary school right? You went to Le Cordon Bleu in London?

Nancy Silverton: Yes. I went to the Cordon Bleu in London and I also, a few years later, went to Lenôtre for pastry. I never went to the culinary institute here in United States. In fact when I started cooking back in 1974 and dropped out of school and my father said, "I'm fine with you dropping out of that school. You need to go to the Cordon Bleu of course." But I never had heard of it. I didn't even know we had domestic cooking schools, or that people went to cooking schools. So that's how naïve I was back then.

Kerry Diamond: But I was curious, if there's someone out there who's listening who they would like to follow in your footsteps, do you think if you were getting your start today, would you have wanted to go to culinary school? Or can you teach yourself?

Nancy Silverton: I think there's both, and look it a lot of it is a matter of finances. Going to culinary school is not cheap. Not everybody has those resources, and so if you want to say, "Do you have to go in order to be a cook? Or in order to be a part of that profession?" You don't have to, certainly, because you can learn on the job. Obviously you have to be patient. Certainly if a restaurateur was looking at a couple resumes and not having the opportunity meet someone and they see somebody is fresh out of cooking school and someone has never been in a restaurant before, probably they would go, it's true, with the person that has some experience. But once you get to know a person, if someone's energetic, ready to learn, willing to start at the bottom and have patience, you can still do it.

What do you gain from going to cooking school? You get a lot more exposure, and you certainly learn a lot of the fundamentals. One thing I learned after being in restaurants from going to a cooking school is I noticed that there was whole hierarchy of prep cooks and line cooks, and so many of the line cooks missed out on a lot of the basics because prep cooks did them instead. So a lot of line cooks don't know how to make a mayonnaise or don't know how to make a chicken stock because it's not part of their "job."

Kerry Diamond: I would love to go to culinary school one day. I went to Ballymaloe in Ireland just for a day, and it's just such a dream to go there or to go to La Cordon Bleu in London or Paris. But I also just look at all these videos now, and just think how remarkable that you can learn from the best people in the world. Literally.

Nancy Silverton: Yes. Very true. Like I was saying earlier, there isn't an excuse. Those videos are out there. You can watch them and you can see how to make so many of these basic things perfectly.

Kerry Diamond: So I should be embarrassed that I still have terrible onion cutting skills.

Nancy Silverton: Aw, no.

Kerry Diamond: Actually, I saw you cutting an onion on a YesChef promo. I should probably find that video and watch it.

So let's talk, before we lose you because I know how busy you are these days, you have been, no surprise, fighting to keep restaurants going. Can you tell us about some of the work that you've been doing?

Nancy Silverton: Well I've got to say, I am lucky to be a part of such hardworking, smart, comrades, meaning all of the restaurateurs around the country that are working so much harder, I have to say, than I have done, working with their local politicians on all different levels getting and trying to get so many issues passed. So to them, I really owe so much gratitude and thanks. I mean they really, really are tireless. That said, I have contributed at a certain level on my part. I know right after the restaurant closures, and I'm thinking that was back on March 15 because I know that Sunday and because it was the Ides of March, I luckily got a phone call from a fellow contributor and chef on YesChef, and in conjunction with Maker's Mark, that they were funding a few restaurants or a few regions around the country to have restaurants make meals for out of work restaurant workers, and those whose hours had gotten cut significantly.

And so I was so thrilled to not only be able to contribute to that cause, because for people that are in the hospitality business, we are used to being hospitable, and hospitable doesn't mean sitting down and watching the world collapse around us. So the idea of being able to contribute something, but also the ability to bring back a handful of workers that had just lost their jobs.

Kerry Diamond: I feel like I saw that on Instagram. You turned your space into kitchens and were serving food, right?

Nancy Silverton: Yup. And so we were serving, at that time, about 100 meals, and we were also giving out a pantry full of supplies, everything from diapers to chicken soup. And then shortly after that we were given the opportunity through the World Central Kitchen to provide meals for hospital workers, and so we were able to bring back another handful of workers. So it's been... Again, being able to do something proactive has helped us. And really the people that were able to come to work were really grateful, not only for getting a paycheck, but also they, too, being able to contribute.

Kerry Diamond: And then how do you think it's going to be in the months ahead? I mean New York is facing something very different than Los Angeles because we have winter. So it's going to be very interesting to see how the outdoor dining continues. But then we also have 25% dining indoors. But you can have yearlong dining in LA.

Nancy Silverton: Well, that, 100%. Heat lamps will help. We don't have heat lamps right now, and I find them... They really clutter. I'm not looking forward to that. But we do get rain. Not all the time, but we do get rain. So that will make it... We don't have a covered patio. I guess there are people that are putting up tents. I'm not sure what some of the ramifications, if you have a closed-in tent, is that considered indoor dining? I'm not sure. But then the other is, how much can people really afford to put into their makeshift patios? Because this is temporary. This is not a structure that is built for permanence. So we do have a little bit more time to think about this. There's a little bit of chatter about 25% being given back to us by the end of this month, as well, in Los Angeles, which we'll see. But it doesn't always make sense. If you take, for example, the seating capacity of chi SPACCA, which is 40 people, do the match. What's 25% of 40 people? Doesn't make sense to go back indoors for that.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. Absolutely. Hopefully change is coming soon. I saw you did something with Hilary Clinton the other night.

Nancy Silverton: Yes. Yeah. That was... Trying to do whatever I can do with that. The night before the Hilary, I did a 15-minute demo alongside with a chef at Crown Shy, and we each did a 15 minute cooking demonstration that was moderated by both Dana Cowin and Phil Rosenthal, and we raised, I don't know, $60,000, $70,000. That was great. And then I catered for those living in Los Angeles, a Zoom Q&A with Hilary Clinton and Adam Schiff and that was really great. And I got to brag and wear the medal of freedom that President Clinton had given my great aunt, Evie Dubrow during his administration. So we had that connection, and I think she was just really surprised and touched to have that connection with me.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's amazing. Has Kamala eaten in your restaurants?

Nancy Silverton: Not that I know of. She has been a guest at a couple of charity dinners that I have done, and this is was when she was not a candidate for Vice President. It was while she was Senator. She was part of the guest list. So I have met her a few times. Myself and six other women in Los Angeles are trying to sell large boxes that we want to be able to distribute on election night to cater people's in-home watching of the election. And we're doing a six-course meal. So that's my next project that I'm actively trying to sell boxes for.

Kerry Diamond: But you love a project, Nancy Silverton. There's no denying.

Nancy Silverton: I love a project.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, before we let you go. I don't know if your team mentioned this to you, but we had asked if you would read a recipe from start to finish. Did they tell you this?

Nancy Silverton: No. On the air?

Kerry Diamond: On the air. I won't make you do it now because you haven't had a chance to rehearse. But we're actually starting something, I haven't come up with the name for it yet, but we're going to have our favorite chefs literally introduce themselves, the title of the recipe, read the head note, and just literally read it like it's literature.

Nancy Silverton: Oh. Like literature. That I can't do. I thought the recipe. Well I'm going to read you a recipe just because I want everybody to know that great food does not mean a shopping list of ingredients and a portfolio of technique. So the recipe I'm going to read to you right now, just to show I can be spontaneous, is warm dates with sea salt. Ready?

Kerry Diamond: Ready.

Nancy Silverton: The ingredients are 12 large dates, two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt. "Combine the dates and extra virgin olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and cook for about five minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the dates from sticking until they are warmed through. To serve, place the dates on a small plate, drizzle with the olive oil from the pan, and crush the flaky sea salt between your finger tips over the dates."

Kerry Diamond: I love it.

Nancy Silverton: How's that for a recipe?

Kerry Diamond: I have those ingredients right now.

Nancy Silverton: Three ingredients, and one of them doesn't even have a measurement.

Kerry Diamond: Is there a head note to that recipe?

Nancy Silverton: Oh, yes.

Kerry Diamond: Can you read the head note?

Nancy Silverton: And it starts off with, "This is hardly a recipe. And maybe I should feel guilty including it in this book. But these warm dates are so delicious that what I'm really doing is giving you a tip. How to make a crowd-pleasing appetizer with no effort whatsoever. The answer? Take plump, fresh dates and warm them. The end. Warmed, the dates are totally transformed, the insides almost melted and become jam-like. We top them with flaky sea salt contrast with their sweetness."

Kerry Diamond: Well, bizarrely I actually have some fresh dates. I have those Rancho Meladuco dates. Have you had them?

Nancy Silverton: Oh yes.

Kerry Diamond: Those are heaven. So I am going to make that recipe because even I can handle that recipe.

Nancy Silverton: I promise you you will not fail. I promise you you cannot fail.

Kerry Diamond: This is not an al dente bean situation.

Nancy Silverton: No.

Kerry Diamond: Or a badly sliced loaf of bread situation here. Well Nancy, I love you so much. I'm happy you're healthy.

Nancy Silverton: Oh thank you.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for our 300th episode. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with our good friend, Chef Nancy Silverton. Be sure to check out her new book, Chi SPACCA: A New Approach to American Cooking. Some more thank yous, because producing Radio Cherry Bombe over the years has taken a village. I'd like to thank Heritage Radio Network folks past and present, including Erin Fairbanks, Jack Inslee, Katie Moseman-Wadler, and Dave Tattashore. Who can forget Dave? Our editor engineers, Jess Zeidman and Kat Garelli. Nicole Lang, the lead singer of Tra La La, the band that sings our theme song, All Fired Up, and of course all the Cherry Bombe team members who over the years have made this show come to life every week.

Please know it's been such an honor to host this show. I appreciate each and every one of you who tune in from around the world, and I am grateful to the women who have shared their stories, and their experiences with us. The Bombesquad is a very special crew. Here's to the next 300. Thank you the Kerrygold for supporting today's show. Radio Cherry Bombe is produced by Cherry Bombe Media. Hang in there everybody. We made it this far. You're The Bombe.

When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have what she's having.

Sarita Gelner: Hi. My name is Sarita Gelner, and I'm the recipe developer and food blogger behind in Madison, Wisconsin. Do you want to know who I think is the bomb? Chef Nina Compton. She is a James Beard Award winning chef based in New Orleans. She has won food and wine awards and is all-around incredible. She's a trailblazer for other women chefs. During the pandemic she has raised so much awareness and money to help keep other restaurants afloat. So she is just doing amazing work for all of the food industry, and I just am so excited about her. I hope you guys check her out.