When Osteria Mozza reopened its doors at Hilton Singapore Orchard last month, loyal fans were ecstatic that they didn’t have to fly to Los Angeles for a taste of its unique brand of Cal-Italian cuisine where the season’s best harvest reigns supreme. No one could be happier about its comeback than chef-owner Nancy Silverton, who flew to the city for the restaurant’s grand reopening last month.
It was her first trip back to Singapore since the Covid-19 pandemic started more two years ago, and Silverton, who was dressed in her signature colourful dress, braided hair and big specs, told us during the interview that it was such a privilege to be travelling again. Like many of us, she also couldn’t travel at the height of the pandemic and spent most of her time quarantined in her Los Angeles home. While many of us got into sourdough making, she also baked her way through American classics—loaves that she had never made before.
During this period, talks about Osteria Mozza reopening at its new home started. So, we chatted with Silverton to find out what kept her busy and how her much-loved Cal-Italian restaurant made its way back to Singapore.
Tell us what the past two and a half years have been like for you?
Nancy Silverton (NS): It was honestly exhausting, but I feel like all of us chefs and restaurateurs tried to find the benefits we could take away from the pandemic. It’s not like we beat the pandemic, but we found other ways to adjust.
We were all in the same predicament and had to deal with specific restrictions from the government—no tableside service, servers couldn’t interact with diners (when dining out was allowed), and we needed to produce disposable menus. Once we were allowed to reopen, finding staff who wanted to remain in the industry was challenging.
What kept you busy during this difficult period?
NS: During the lockdown, I got this opportunity to cook 350 meals a day for restaurant workers who were out of work. That was great because I didn’t have the downtime as soon as everything got shut down. At the same time, I was doing something meaningful instead of being stagnant.