Twelve Days of Chefmas: Mal and Gabriella da Silva-Taylor
While we love inundating your Instagram feeds with daily doses of food porn, we are firm believers that you should know the people behind your food as well as where it is coming from. Our 12 Days of Chefmas series seeks to introduce you to the faces behind some of your favorite restaurants and brands. Follow along for the next 12 days as we help you get to know these talented humans a little better.
Mal and Gabriella da Silva-Taylor | Amor Food Truck
How you got started in the kitchen:
Mal: I started caring very early about growing food with my grandma, harvesting what we planted together and then cooking and learning from her. Also I remember my cousin and I, who were the same age, used to go to school together, and after school go to his home to do our homework. After homework was done came the best part. He used to live next to a farm, so we used to go there to help with whatever they had for us. We used to get paid with a big bowl of salad and fresh fruits from the garden and that was such an amazing part of growing up. I love food, and I love nourishing and gathering friends and family around the table. My plant-based adventures growing up were fun and fulfilling.
Gabriella: I can't remember when I wasn't in the kitchen. Both my grandmothers taught me the basics, Ma Taylor being a true New Englander got me started doing everything from baking cakes and cookies to making yogurt and granola from scratch. My Nana, who was Mexican/American Indian, let me be her sous chef and showed me how to cut veggies, make Mexican meals and a good pot of beans. But professionally I started as a plant-based personal chef at 18 and was able to travel a bit around the world.
Your favorite ingredient to work with:
Mal: I love cooking with vegetables as they are so diverse and you can do so much with them. I never get bored or tired of going to the farmers’ market (Coventry Farmers Market is my favorite) and choosing a vegetable that is in season and then creating something delicious with it. So my favorite ingredient right now is the 'Purple Majesty' Okinawan sweet potatoes or purple sweet potato. They are in season and are one of the most delicious and nutritious yams out there.
Gabriella: It's hard to pick one, every season we have new favorites. At the moment maitake mushrooms, probably. First of all, they are a delicious and powerful super food, secondly, they can be transformed into so many different preparations from soups and sautes to being the star of the show or even in chocolates!
Favorite item on your menu:
Mal: As of now, my favorite item on the dessert menu is wife's raw chocolate cheesecake. Her raw cheesecakes are so amazing and delicious that every year for my birthday I pick out two cakes with different flavors. Ha, I guess I'm very lucky right?!
Gabriella: It would have to be our banh mi. It was a collaboration between Mal & I to create our version of the traditional Vietnamese sandwich with Korean BBQ Tofu (the tofu sourced locally from The Bridge). It started as a special and became our number one seller.
Favorite holiday dish to eat or cook:
Mal: My spinach, garlic and oregano mashed potato. It is always requested by my family.
Gabriella: My favorite meal to cook is a plant-based Thanksgiving, because it was my fathers all time favorite. I also love making fresh raviolis. For me, cooking and sharing a meal creates memories and that keep my heart fulfilled.
Restaurant in CT that you're dying to try:
Mal: I have been really wanting to have the vegan brunch at the Plantin' Seeds Farm Kitchen. It’s not a restaurant, it's a farming-focused venture in Canaan that serves sublime farm-plate meals highlighting local farmer's food. I can't wait to try it.
Gabriella: Brunch is one my favorite meals and the most difficult for us to go especially here in Connecticut, but we just discovered the Plantin' Seeds Farm in Canaan. They put on a plant-based brunch on Sundays and I am really excited about experiencing what they have to offer.
Funniest kitchen story:
Mal: Pastel Brasileiro was one of my favorite dishes to make from scratch. The masa is simple and only takes 5 ingredients, one of which is a alcohol called cachaça, a native sugar cane alcohol from Brazil. One Saturday afternoon I had my school friends over to finish a project, so I decided to make some pastel. Once I finished making and closing all the pastels, I had some dough left, so I made it into little balls. I was going to fry them as well so that we didn't have any waste. In my mind, if I just put in maybe a little bit more of the cachaça, perhaps my friends and I would have a nice little buzz. Once I got the frying pan really hot, I started to fry the mini balls first, and guess what? The balls started exploding and bursting all over the kitchen. Everybody started to scream and laugh at the same time. I got a couple burns and we were all trying to hide from my little bursting pastel balls that were flying with all over the kitchen. My father eventually came to the rescue with a towel on his head and turned off the stove and covered the pot so the balls would stop exploding. It was hysterical and my family still tells this story at family gatherings. Make sure that you know that the amount of alcohol in a dough matters. Now I know.
Gabriella: After hearing Mal's story I can't even...