Being a chef is natural for Silvana Salcido Esparza: "It's in my DNA. We have eight hundred years—I should say, eight hundred documented years—of culinary excellence in the family. My ancestor was the pastry chef to the king of Spain."
When I chat with Silvana, she's in Mexico, in the middle of a trip that will take her all over Central America and the Caribbean.
Her Phoenix restaurant, Barrio Café, remains as popular as ever—set to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2022—and every time you approach the block of vibrant murals along "Calle 16," you know you're in for something special. What's on offer here is amazing modern Mexican cuisine (Comida Chingona, to use the restaurant's words), and that's what Silvana's been creating: her own distinctive Cocina de Autor.