Alumni Feature: Yva Santini | Pazzo Taverna, Stratford | SCS Class of 2009

June 12, 2019

I began working in kitchens as a young teenager, my first job being a dishwasher in Bryan Steele‘s kitchen at The Old Prune. It was my experience at The Old Prune that opened my mind to what exceptionally prepared food tastes like, and the power great cuisine can have on evoking emotion. Steele is a chef that inspires beyond precise culinary skill. He encourages awareness of the big picture; supporting and sourcing the best products as close to home as possible; the value of nutrition and fitness; and the importance of maintaining your personal priorities, for example family, in order to aim for your sustainable work/life balance.

For over five seasons I had the privilege to work with Chef Steele and observe his effective teaching style, not only as my mentor, but as mentor to a large contingent of Stratford Chefs School apprentices. Having such a strong leader early in my career gave me the confidence to work ethically, and eventually lead a team of my own. I have been working at Pazzo Taverna for 12 years, and have been the Chef for the last eight years. I am still refining my teaching style and strive to create a fair, inspired and energetic workplace. Now, as Executive Chef, I am thrilled to continue to gain experience and inspiration from the apprentices and sous chefs I have the fortune to work beside on the Pazzo team.

What is your favourite restaurant?

Colborne Lane circa 2008.


What is your favourite cookbook?

The Flavor Bible.


What is your guilty pleasure food?

I only feel guilt if I DON’T eat something.


What food did you think was over-rated until you tried it?

Garlic Scapes cooked by (SCS Alumna and Pazzo Saucier) Meaghan Evely.


Favourite knife or kitchen tool?

Spider-I much prefer to extract than strain over a sink.


What restaurant dish seemed the most intimidating, but is actually really easy to make?

I would hesitate to say anything is easy. Dishes or items do not become “easier” to make, the cook becomes more skilled. Practice!


Favourite ingredient you can’t get enough of right now?



What is a new technique/flavour you are experimenting with currently?

Broiling…I know it is very modern, you may not have heard of it!?


Are there any recipes from SCS you still use?

Yes! mostly pastry recipes.


What is your best SCS memory?

Graduating with honours!


Click here to check out Chef Yva’s Recipe of the Month, excerpted from the book Farm To Table.

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