Soup Artist and student of Holistic Nutrition, Apartment, San Francisco
I’m a native of São Paulo and have been in the Bay Area for over 15 years. Food has always been a way of expressing myself, and I started cooking before I reached the double digits. It was just recently that I started to think of myself as an artist whose medium is cooking ☺
What brought you to create your business? Can you explain what you propose?
After working in a handful of restaurants around the world, assisting cooking classes, and styling for world famous food writers I had to go through a questioning of what food meant to me and what kind of involvement I wanted to have with it. The revelation was that I was ready to step out of the “food porn” business and start looking into food as medicine.
My idea behind creating these soups is that not every mother has the time luxury to prepare fresh foods for their babies, and I do not believe that industrialized, pasteurized, homogenized soups should be the answer to that. By creating handmade, one of a kind, seasonal soups I am trying expose their developing palates to the joy of live food and to support their health with the best food I can possibly create.
Describe your work in 3 words?
Inspired, nurturing, delicious.
Do you create your own recipe for the baby organic food?
Yes. I actually create the recipes based on what is available at the farmers market, and combining ingredients that will offer most nutrition and flavor. I try to create a theme for each soup, and use it as I blend herbs, spices, and other ingredients that will support my little client’s digestive and overall health.
How would you describe your food style?
Not sure I know what genre to call it. My food style is like quilt of the life experiences that I’ve had thus far. For example, I was married into a Greek family in my early 20’s and used to cook with my mother-in-law almost every day. I learned a lot from her, and still cook some of her childhood recipes, which she brought from her native Thessaloniki. I also incorporate a lot of South East Asian flavors in my cooking – I spent some months traveling in that region over 10 years ago, and took a few cooking classes while traveling. Finally, we have a vast influence from European to African cuisines in Brazil. It all shows up, you just never know where ☺
Do you always cook in music? Do you have a specific playlist when you cook?
Yes, I always cook with music. I mostly play Brazilian music when I cook, as the nostalgia makes the food taste better (laughter). However lately I have been digging my Nina Simone radio on Pandora.
What is your first memory with food as a child? Do you have a story to share?
Some of my earliest memories are the Sunday lunches that my Venetian grandmother used to cook for the family in her old-fashioned kitchen at the heart of São Paulo city, in my native Brazil. I was the first granddaughter and proud to be her only assistant in the kitchen, blending egg yolks and olive oil by hand to make aioli, or shaping gnocchi with my little fingers. I remember clearly that, at the time, my main motivation was to munch on the food before it was ready to be served. I always had a big appetite, for food and for life!
What's your favorite plate that you love to cook for your family?
I mostly cook for myself and for my 3 year old daughter - so our fare is pretty simple, and changes all the time as her palate changes. Today I made a pesto with lemon basil, cilantro, sunflower seeds, and olive oil. She loved it so much that she asked me if I would make sure I packed it for lunch tomorrow, over quinoa and cabbage. Last week I made a very similar pesto and she didn't even touch, actually I had to transfer the rest of the food to an clean plate, so there was no trace of pesto around it...
As I think about it, my favorite plate to cook is the plate I know my “audience” will love. I cook to please and share my love, so whatever pleases them will please me.
As you work in your home, I guess you sometimes need to take a break outside, what do you do usually?
Most days my outside activity consist of trips to the nearby playgrounds with my daughter, or working on the food garden I am growing at her preschool. When I have a bit more time to indulge and a car available I cross the bridge and go hike in the East Bay or Marin.
What brought you to San Francisco?
Love and adventure… what else?
What do you love about living here?
So many things… I like the pretty chill rhythm of life. You can always find someone to hang out or have an adventure during “business hours”. I also like how open and non-conforming our community is; anything goes in San Francisco. Last but not least, so much good food, amazing produce and people that take it so seriously!
Describe SF in 3 words.
Open, creative, dynamic.
What is your favorite place to eat in SF?
These days it is Tacolicious, on Valencia Street. Creative, delicious, child-friendly, affordable. Ah, and remarkable cardamom margueritas!
Please, take 3 pictures of whatever you want!
Thank you very much Vanessa for the delicious spicy tea we had together and your cheerfulness!
If you want more information about her wonderful services she offer, look at her website right here: https://www.zaarly.com/vanessasilva
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