Q & A With Nancy Silverton: The Mozza Cookbook, The Problem of Gelato + Doing One Thing at a Time Very, Very Well
|pizza made at the Scuola using the recipe from the book|
NS: I think it's about getting really interested in something. If you look at my books, right, each one is so different. I guess you can exclude [the book about] Campanile, because that's obvious. But if you think of themes, I never repeated a theme. I feel like I got it all out in that one. And I've never signed, like, a three-book deal. So it's not putting the horse before the cart.
SI: It's a very instructive paradigm. People tend to get scattered. So, what's up with Short Order? [Short Order is the burger bar Amy Pressman is opening at the 3rd and Fairfax Farmers Market; Silverton is partnering in the project; check out their Facebook page for progress.]
NS: So initially the farmers market had contacted me and asked if I'd open up a place. That was awhile ago, and I couldn't. It was just too much. But I had a friend, Amy, [Amy Pressman] who was looking to do something and she would be great, and so there was a long conversation and they thought it would be a good fit. And she asked if I'd help to come up with the recipes. And she's sort of as obsessed as I am. I think that often people are too willing to just be satisfied, right? And she's very similar. So in the process of working closely with our meat purveyor, there was a lot of tweaking -- because there is. But when you work with a large company, once you tweak your formula, then that's your formula.
SI: When's that going to open?
NS: Probably the middle of October. She's doing the bakery [Short Cake] next door too. For both of us, it was about letting the meat be the star and having condiments that complement it without trying to be too cutting edge.
SI: So this book is coming out, the Mozza in Newport is open, and the Mozza in Singapore is up and running. Can we ask you what's next, or is that just too idiotic?
NS: As far as projects? We're talking about a pizzeria in San Diego. Otherwise? Well, a cookbook that I'd love to do -- although I don't know if my agent would want to -- is a family dinners book. It would be an odd thing to do, because no one at home would do the whole menus [the special menus that Mozza's Chad Colby does at the Scuola: pork menus, tomato menus, etc.], but from that menu they'd pick some of the dishes. We'd organize it that way: you could look at pork or tomatoes or fish. Because there are a lot of really terrific recipes. That would be a great book.
Well, there are many reasons why I both love and hate books. I hate to do books because I can't stand the process of editing. It's lucky that I've worked with such great writers, because that I could never do. But what I don't like is how many times you have to read the book. You just get so sick of it. I can't stand having to sign off on a recipe. Today, you know, you might feel differently than you do tomorrow. To say, Well, okay, that's going in the book, that's done. Then you go back to test it and you're like, Wait a minute. But what I do like is when it's thoroughly tested, it's so much nicer to have this [picks up the book] than all those dirty pages with the notes.
SI: It's a perfect document.
NS: And I like having that perfect document. But you do get sick of how many times you have to read it. And then I get really obsessed. My feeling is this: when I used to read cookbooks, I would take them very literally. For instance, if a recipe started out "put a cup of water in a medium-sized pot and turn the heat up to high." And then the next recipe said "put a cup of water in a large pot." The person was probably just being sloppy, but why was it medium there and now large in this one? So I'd be like, From now on, whenever we put a cup of water in a pot, it has to be a small pot, right? The worst thing about cookbooks is when people put them out and they don't care if the recipes work or not. And I can tell you... [pats the book].
SI: How many times did these recipes get tested?
NS: So many. It's been really, really tested. And I guess at the end, you do have a book, right?