Banana gelato pie with hot fudge and candied hazelnuts, orange infused chocolate bread pudding with citrus caramel and cocoa nib brittle, tangy Meyer lemon sorbet—is your mouth watering yet? These delicious Italian desserts only represent a handful of the sweets created by Dahlia Narvaez, the executive pastry chef for Nancy Silverton's L.A.-based Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza. Narvaez recently received her third nomination for the title of James Beard Oustanding Pastry Chef, and was kind enough to answer a few of our burning questions. Check them out her answers below, and then study up on her recipe for Jam-Filled Mezzaluna Cookies, which our friends at Food & Wine were lucky enough to snag.
What's your earliest memory in the kitchen?
Making sugar cookies with my mom. Sitting on the counter, she handed me the cookie cutter, and showed me how to punch out the shapes.
What chef do you admire the most and why?
Nancy Silverton. She is hard working, never settles, fashion forward, ingredient driven, has an amazing work ethic, and is so humble.
What made you become a chef?
I grew up cooking, helping mom with dinner. I also wanted to travel, experience different cultures—I even considered working on a cruise ship to see the world!
The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. I have two copies, one for work and one to sit on my bookcase at home.