Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza
Barrio Cafe

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza was raised in a traditional Mexican family. During her childhood, Silvana's parents owned and operated the first and only Mexican bakery in Merced, located in central California.

Chef Silvana’s father's craft of baking was learned from his father before him. Both her father and mother hail from a traditional baking family which can be traced back to France and then brought to Mexico with the migration during the reign of Maximilian & Carlota. However, the Salcido baking history dates back to the 1200’s where the de Salcido's were Royal Pastry Chefs to King Alonso El Sabio of Spain. 

This bakery was truly a family affair for it was here that Chef Silvana found her love and passion for the kitchen and the ‘back of the house,’ thus building a strong foundation for her future as a chef. Cooking with her grandmother, also named Silvana, and her mother Leonor, is where she learned that love is the key ingredient to making stellar Mexican cuisine. Following her father's legacy was easy and only natural for Silvana. Chef Silvana explains, "I have always felt my family's history run through my veins. I have followed my heart and do what I love - how lucky can I get!"

Fulfilling a lifetime goal, in the years 2000 & 2001, Silvana embarked on an adventure of discovery. She traveled throughout Mexico's back roads and small villages learning more about her Mexican heritage, customs, people and, most of all, the food.

Through her culinary experiences as a child and her travels, Chef Silvana developed her own style of Mexican cuisine. This original and fresh style is the result of her own interpretation of traditional Mexican cuisine and influences from her mother and grandmother, her own heritage, experiences and travels.

Awarded a full scholarship to Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 1995, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals scholarship to study in Mexico in 2000, Chef Silvana has dedicated her culinary career to the study of Mexican cuisine and it's history. Silvana has cooked with some of the foremost authorities on Mexican Cuisine; Patricia Quintana, Chef Zurita and Susana Trilling to name a few. Accolades from national press publications such as Vogue Magazine, The New York Times and Metropolitan Home have named chef Silvana as a leader and innovator in Mexican cuisine. She has also been named Best Hot Young Chef's from Phoenix Magazine and named as one of Phoenix's Cool Index by the Phoenix New Times. Chef Silvana's articles have appeared in the New Times and the New York Village Voice. Chef Silvana has also been nominated twice for the James Beard Award.

In the year 2004, Silvana was named Chef Extraordinaire of the Year and inducted into the acclaimed Culinary Hall of Fame. 

Barrio Café was established in 2002 by partners Wendy Gruber & Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza. The Barrio was a dream come true for the duo -- a little neighborhood eatery providing authentic southern Mexico cuisine and chef's original creations in an unpretentious atmosphere. Mission accomplished! The Barrio Cafe has been hailed as one of the hottest & original restaurants to hit Phoenix.