Amy Pressman, a longtime Southern California chef who was due to open Short Order hamburger restaurant and Short Cake bakery with Nancy Silverton this fall at the Farmers Market in the Fairfax district, has died of cancer, according to a statement from her family Friday. She was 53.
Pressman was the founder of Pasadena's Old Town Bakery and had a hand in several other well-known restaurant projects around Southern California, including Parkway Grill.
"This past Wednesday, Amy came to my home to barbecue burgers and make final adjustments in preparation of the upcoming opening of Short Order," Silverton said in a statement. "I knew she was hurting, but her will and determination to complete this project she was so passionate about won out that day over her pain.
"When I heard today that she had passed away, I was heartbroken. But, I know her beautiful spirit will be alive and well at Short Order and Short Cake and in my heart forever."
Among Pressman's survivors are two sons, Joshua Pressman and Sean Weiss; her mother, Muriel Nellis; her longtime partner Rob Beckham; and a brother, Adam Pressman. [UPDATED: An earlier version of this story did not include Beckham.] Funeral arrangements are pending.
Instead of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to organizations that fund research into esophageal cancer or to Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena.
Friends are remembering Pressman at a Facebook page.
"Amy was the one of the singularly most passionate people I have ever met," said Bill Chait, a partner in the new restaurants, who said they would open as scheduled sometime in October. "She was more than my partner. She was my sister. She will be with me the rest of my life and there is no advocate I would rather have by my side. For me, there will never be a moment where I eat a piece of cake, or now, a burger, without thinking fondly of my dearest friend."
-- Russ Parsons
Photo: Amy Pressman