Chef Silvia Bernardini



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By Russ Ham

The Foodie Scene is exploding throughout the peninsula.  The restaurants and wineries of Tijuana and the Valle de Guadalupe get much of the attention.  But La Paz offers a growing abundance of fine dining, with the ascendance of established favorites like Tres Virgenes, Sorstis, and Nim and the arrival of new talents like Chef Jose Estrada at Oliva al Mare.  “Slow Food” thrives in the Farmers’ Market (the Mercado Orgánico y Artesenal), Tuesdays and Saturdays on Madero between Constitución and Cinco de Mayo, where you can find local produce and artisan foods, including Italian sausage and porchetta made by Chef Silvia Bernardini.

Chef Bernardini also offers dinners and cooking classes.  Born in Turin and raised in Rome, she is co-founder (with her mother) of an Italian cooking school in Paris, and another school in Milan.  In 2012, she won the “Italian Cuisine Worldwide” award, and she was the only female chef to compete in the first two editions of the Barilla Foundation’s Pasta World Championships.  She moved to Mexico in 1997, where her restaurant L’Invito was highly regarded, first in San Miguel, then in Veracruz.

Silvia’s upbringing determined her destiny.  “I am a daughter of the arts.  I grew up in a house with more than five
thousand cookbooks or books concerning the anthropology of food or the
physiology of taste.”  Her mother, Leda
Vigliardi Paravia, has just published her eighteenth cookbook.

Her interest in “Slow Food” predates the catchphrase.  While in Veracruz, she taught restaurateurs form the vanilla-growing region ways to use natural vanilla in local cuisine.  She organized tours in Guanajuato to connect with the indigenous communities in the Sierra Gorda.

Four years ago, she moved to La Paz with the goal of slowing down.  “That plan was not followed,” she says.  She stays busy with sausage making, cooking classes, monthly dinners, and training four young chefs who aim to open their own businesses.

Her dinners and classes are held in her home in Colonia Benito Juarez, near the Hotel La Posada.  “The dinners,” Silvia says, “are basically a one-night revival of my restaurant.”  The classes feature demonstration and explanation.  “Italian cuisine depends more on specific techniques than specific ingredients,” she explains.  “Students can better learn these techniques by watching an instructor, rather than being distracted trying to duplicate the technique immediately.”

For more information, read Silvia’s blog at www.silvia-bernardini.blogspot.com; follow her on Facebook; sign up for her mailing list at silvia.bernardini.veracruz@gmail.com, or call (or send WhatsApp) to her at 612-161-6616.