One aspect of West Chester that I keep hearing everyone loves is how easy it is to walk from place to place. And of course, all of the restaurants the borough has to offer. Sylvie Ashby, owner and chef of Cuisine de Sylvie, explores this aspect of West Chester she calls “European” and implements elements of France in her cooking. Cuisine de Sylvie, established in 2015, differs from a standard catering service because Sylvie, working alone, acts as a personal chef to her customers in their homes. That’s why she doesn’t normally serve a group larger than 37 people: it can be a lot of work for one person!
“My food is quality and freshly-made,” Sylvie said. “ I source locally-owned products when I can. There aren’t a lot of French restaurants in West Chester and this is a restaurant town. I want to bring more French cuisine here, and I would love to expand my business.”
Out of all of the dishes she prepares, Sylvie has a soft spot for her beef bourguignon, a creamy, simmering meat casserole made with mushrooms, carrots, and onions that she marinates in red wine for 24 hours. To her, it’s so delicious, it’s a comfort food.
Cooking has been a key element of Sylvie’s life from a young age. Growing up in Normandy, France, preparing elaborate dishes for dinner each night was a way of bonding with the family.
“My grandmother always made couscous tangerine,” she said. “That’s the dish I always remember when I think about my childhood. Cooking bonded us because we would prepare and share the meal together.”
“So essentially,” I had asked her when we met over coffee the other day, “you’re creating nostalgia when you prepare these French dishes?”
“That’s exactly it,” she said.
Sylvie had attended school years ago for English as a Second Language. West Chester will always be her home, and she is determined to keep French culture alive here. Once a year, she returns to France and takes a culinary tour throughout the country to keep up on the current trends and familiar traditions, so her clients are getting the full experience, especially when they can choose different meals according to French regions. I remarked on how dedicated she is to her career if she’s actively seeking out new culinary information.
“I do it for my customers,” Sylvie said. “I’ve just always loved nurturing people and passing on my love for cooking with 100% healthy options.”
“I love allowing people to experience France in the comfort of their own homes,” she said. “I can create a little Paris restaurant for them for a night.”
Check out Cuisine de Sylvie online for more information.