Silvia Baldini was putting the finishing touches on a homemade peach and apricot tart in her cozy New Canaan kitchen recently when we stopped by to chat about her victory on Food Network’s Chopped, her catering business, Strawberry and Sage, and all things culinary.
Baldini, a native of Italy, studied art and design in Pasadena, California, then worked in advertising in Manhattan for seventeen years before leaving the rough-and-tumble ad industry for culinary school and the rough-and-tumble restaurant business. She’s cooked professionally in London and New York City and at a few Michelin-starred restaurants in between, but her favorite place to prepare food is at home in New Canaan, where she lives with her mathematician husband, Michele, and their two children.
Baldini is an energetic and positive proponent of the Slow Food movement and loves all things locavore. Hence, the Baldinis patio is locavore central. Right on the slate, they raise herbs and vegetables (six types of tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries and more) in growing bags from England, rather than setting up and maintaining gardens out in the yard. The bags contain compost and soil and are covered in wicker; their design blends seamlessly with flower and herb baskets that hold geraniums, petunias, roses, pineapple mint, lavender and more. The plants create a colorful still life for diners gathered around the picnic table, which an artisan in Brooklyn created for the family from reclaimed oak planks and iron legs. The benches can hold twelve people, says Baldini, “if you squeeze in, which we do. We’re Italian.”
HER FAVORITE KITCHEN GADGETS COME FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
Her favorite filet knife is a Henckels. Wusthof makes her favorite butcher knife and her most prized piece of cutlery was a gift, a chef’s knife handmade in Japan
A pink string of them, from Zeal
NECESSARY ODDS AND ENDS
Speed peeler, oyster knife, truffle shaver (good for cucumbers in addition to truffles) and mini-spatula
Heavy-duty plastic, made by Benriner