Last month at the C-CAP Annual Benefit, we had the great opportunity to meet some of the individuals we’ve interviewed in the past including Executive Chef Kelvin Fernandez, Pastry Chef Thiago Silva and Food Network Star contestant Yvan Lemoine. All three mentioned how C-CAP paved the way for them to pursue their current professional dreams. While walking around the fantastic event, we were introduced to another C-CAP Alum, Chef Sylva Senat (@SylvaSenat) who is currently the Executive Chef at Tashan, a new modern restaurant in Philadelphia, PA. We caught up with him after the benefit to learn more about him.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking? When did you decide you wanted to be a chef? What do you enjoy most about being one?
SS: In the late 90’s when I was 19, I got my start at The Sign of the Dove, my first restaurant in NYC. It was connected to an Ecce Panis bakery so I got to see everything from food, wine service, pastries, banquets and bread. That’s when I knew I wanted to be involved in the world of cooking.
FP: Name some chefs that have inspired you.
FP: A great list of chefs indeed!
Recently, we’ve learned a lot about C-CAP and its influence on aspiring chefs. Please share your experience and involvement with the organization with us.
SS: I was introduced to C-CAP when I was a junior at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, NY. I was one of the first few members and it opened the door to the culinary world for me.
C-CAP got me my first internship at the Sign of the Dove in Manhattan. With Chef Andrew D’Amico’s teaching and guidance, I continued to learn in his kitchen and so many doors have open for me after leaving such a high fine dining establishment. Like C-CAP, Chef D’Amico saw that I had the right passion and drive.
FP: When you’re not working at Tashan, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for at home for yourself and/or for guests?
SS: When cooking at home we have different cuisine nights but we tend to be more Asian like a quick ramen or stir fry of vegetable and /or noodles. When cooking for family, we usually stay rustic and fun. Whole snapper, rice and beans and sweet potato mashed.
Also, I am a sucker for any thing lamb whether is a roasted leg or chops.
FP: Anyone would be lucky to be at your table! If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in Philadelphia or other cities you’ve visited.
FP: If we ever travel to Japan, we’ll have to check out Yoshinoya for sure!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
SS: With hamachi, foie and squab aside I cannot stay away from double stuffed Oreos and super chunky Skippy Peanut Butter. They’re my go-to foodie pleasures!
FP: We hear ya about Skippy Peanut Butter…it’s so good!
Name three individuals you would invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.
SS: I would make a tasting menu for my true Executive Chefs- Andrew D’Amico, Nils Noren, and Gabriel Kreuther. It was in their kitchens and hands where I was molded. I would love to share my culinary evolution with them so they all can see a little bit of each of their teaching combined in one.
FP: That would be a true testament to their mentorship indeed! In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?
SS: Driven, passionate, humble
FP: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? Any non-cooking hobbies?
SS: I have always loved different languages, fashion and photography so I would probably be a travel photographer.
FP: That would be a great career but we’re sure glad you chose to be a chef! Chef Sylva, thank you for your time! Philadelphia is just a road trip away for us so we’ll have to stop by Tashan one day!
Visit http://www.mytashan.com/ for more info on Chef Sylva and his restaurant.