Just outside the tiny hill town of Panicale in Italy’s Umbria region is a cozy house with what used to be the village oven. Seven years ago, Nancy Silverton, the founder of Los Angeles’s pioneering La Brea Bakery and co-owner of the city’s excellent new Osteria Mozza, bought the villa as a vacation spot. Although the house is no longer a town center, it now serves as a gathering place for another group: Silverton’s American chef friends, like Mario Batali (one of her partners at Mozza) and the Bay Area’s Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone.
One recent guest was Matt Molina, the chef at Mozza. Silverton says Molina was a “class pet” from the start, when he worked with her at L.A.’s Campanile restaurant 11 years ago. Now they think about food with almost the same brain, constantly collaborating on dishes.
“I always say I’m fond of Matt because he cooks like a girl,” Silverton says. “I think women are not afraid to show restraint. His food is simple—it’s unembellished while still being stylish and beautiful.”