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Chef Barbara Passino

Celebrity Chef

Chef Barbara Passino, chef-owner of Napa Valley's Oak Knoll Inn and author of Chocolate for Breakfast, is a natural-born chocoholic. Not only was her first food a sinful chocolate brownie--which naturally drew her first smile--but as a young girl, she and her beloved Aunt Johnny indulged in a secret ritual of chocolate for breakfast. Thus began Chef Passino's love affair with food and travel, though she didn't pursue her passion professionally until later in life.

A Recipe for Happiness

Chef Passino was born and raised in suburban New York. She earned her bachelor's degree from Mt. Holyoke College and completed graduate work at Dartmouth. After a stint teaching art in Vermont, she launched a career in finance that took her to Manhattan, Wall Street, and, eventually, California. Though she earned her paycheck creating a mutual fund business for Charles Schwab, her heart was in a more decadent place. She made the pivotal decision to take a break from the world of finance and enroll in cooking classes with Marcella Hazan in Venice, Italy. She never looked back.

Culinary Arts

Life Is Sweet at the Oak Knoll Inn

With an inspired love for cooking, gardening, and entertaining, Chef Passino and her husband bought the Napa Valley's Oak Knoll Inn in 1992, often considered Napa's most romantic and luxurious bed and breakfast. It was a match made in heaven, and Chef Passino's signature breakfasts earned her high praises. While her organic gardens of edible flowers, exotic peppers, herbs, and heirloom vegetables formed the foundation for her recipes, it was her creative use of chocolate that really drew recognition.

Chocolate for Breakfast Is Born

While Chef Passino's heart lay in Napa Valley, her love for cooking and travel brought her to Oaxaca Mexico, where, under the direction of food expert Susanna Trilling, she studied the use of chocolate as both a savory and a sweet ingredient. And so her landmark cookbook, Chocolate for Breakfast, was born.

Indulge in a Little Chocolate for Breakfast

If life is already a box of chocolates, celebrate its sweeter moments with Chef Barbara Passino's landmark cookbook, Chocolate for Breakfast (The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection; February 2009).

Fall in love with more than 100 rich, indulgent, easy-to-follow recipes that showcase international cuisine with a chocolaty twist. Featuring such chapters as "The French Connection," and "Recipe for a Perfect Night's Sleep," Chocolate for Breakfast offers the recipe for any mood or occasion. Showcase the season's freshest ingredients with recipes like "Chocolate Pasta with Sautéed Strawberries" and "Chocolate Omelet with Blueberries in a Pinot Noir Sauce."