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Trender: White Horse Tavern’s Rich Silvia

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Rewriting history: Executive Chef Rich Silvia

Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in food, fashion, the arts and style? They're Trenders, and today features White Horse Tavern Chef Rich Silvia, who has taken on a historic Newport landmark with a staid reputation and put it back on the culinary map. 

Local cred: Born in Newport, schooled at JWU, lives in Warwick.

Age: 35

What do you like about being a chef in Rhode Island?
The state is so small it is easy to source locally from all over the state. The variety of products available inspire me and being able to go to the docks and pick out the product that I want to cook with is great.
What are your three favorite locally-sourced ingredients? What do you make with them?
I really like Aquidneck Island Honeycomb and pair it with cheeses on my cheese plate in the restaurant. American Mussel Harvesters does a great job with their shellfish farms. I use their local clams for a clam and sofrito appetizer dish and their Rhode Island mussels for our moule fritte dish. Also local spear-caught striped bass is probably at the top of my list and I usually serve it with a warm veggie salad from the local farmers market.

Who or what inspired you to cook? Who on the local food scene -- farmer, chef, fisherman -- do you follow and why?
I grew up surrounded by food. My mother was a great baker and comfort foods cook, while my father cooked off the cusp. My grandmother had a strong influence on me as well, with our Portuguese and Italian roots. As far as local food scene goes, I enjoy throwing ideas out with most of my chef friends for inspiration. I am impressed though with Derek Wagner's success at Nick's on Broadway. His philosophy intrigues me--how so much of what he cooks with is sourced locally.

What is your favorite food memory from your childhood? Is there anything from back then that you still indulge on occasion?
Oh, hands down, my mother's broccoli casserole. I think it was a Betty Crocker-type of recipe, but I still ask her to make it to this day.

It's your last meal and your favorite chef in all the world has offered to cook for you. Who is the chef and what does he or she make for you?
It's going to sound stereotypical, but probably Thomas Keller or Patrick O'Connell. And I wouldn't be picky, they can feed me anything.  Probably a simple roasted chicken dish or a piece of Rhode Island seafood.

For more on food and drink in Rhode Island, check out GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7 here.


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