So what does a chef who makes pasta all day, every day, eat when they get home from work? More pasta, of course! Well, this is at least true for these five chefs, who can’t get enough of the Italian staple.
His go-to pasta at home
Cavatelli with sugo. When he was a kid, Vargetto’s mum would make cavatelli for special occasions. “I always associated cavatelli with happy times,” he says. “It was a family affair. Once we had done all the pasta, it would be on top of a tablecloth, so everyone would get a corner and bring the pasta into the spare bedroom and put it on top of the bed to dry."
His lockdown hit
The chef has been coming up with lots of exciting dishes since the beginning of the pandemic, from pani câ meusa to deep-fried lasagne. His mother-in-law inspired the latter. He replicated her recipe (which includes ham and egg), before crumbing and deep-frying lasagne squares. At Mister Bianco, he sold out of hundreds of portions in less than an hour.
When you make fresh pasta, produce extra portions and freeze them for next time. “If you’re going to make half a kilo, make two kilos,” he says.
Her go-to pasta at home: Andrisani, who grew up in Naples before moving to Tasmania, doesn’t eat pasta as often as she used to. “My sister is coeliac, but my parents didn’t know until she was older. She didn’t like pasta when she was little, but my mom would always tell her pasta was good for her and that she needed to finish eating her pasta. I was upset for my sister so I was eating my food and her food. I think I overdid it,” she explains. But when summer comes around, she can’t resist a crayfish thick spaghetti with lemon zest and lots of parsley.
The pasta dish she loves making at Fico: A tortellone stuffed with mushroom purée and a runny quail egg yolk. It’s served on blow-torched béchamel and covered in fried leeks.
Her tip(s): “When you cook pasta, some people don’t salt the water, I don’t know why! Salt it heavily. And always cook the pasta for one or two minutes less than it’s supposed to be, to make sure it’s al dente. And always finish cooking the pasta in the pan with the sauce and a bit of pasta water so the pasta can suck up the flavour of the sauce,” she recommends.
His go-to pasta
When he’s home, Papadakis tends to reach for dry pasta. “Last week, I probably cooked the same pasta for myself four times: garlic, chilli, anchovies and broccolini. Very simple and easy. A lot of the time, I come back home very late, I forget to eat at work and I’m starving,” he says.
"Once we had done all the pasta, it would be on top of a tablecloth, so everyone would get a corner and bring the pasta into the spare bedroom and put it on top of the bed to dry."
A signature dish
The casarecce with sausage and radicchio has been on and off the menu at Tipo 00 for six years. The pork and fennel sausage is made in-house and pan-fried with garlic, chilli and radicchio. “It’s a very comforting dish, a lot of our hospo friends come and ask for it,” he says.
Quality ingredients are a must, keep things simple, and cook your pasta properly (i.e. al dente). “I use lots of anchovies, I love them. They give amazing flavour to pasta,” he says. “Using three or four ingredients is the key to keeping your sauce tasty and not overwhelming it.”
His go-to pasta at home
“I really like making pasta, even on my day off. It’s my passion. My go-to at home is the lasagne. Where I’m from [Parma, in northern Italy], there’s the highest standard of lasagne with green sheets of pasta. The dough is made with spinach, which changes the texture of pasta. It’s even tastier than normal ones,” he says.
A classic from his region
Fulchiati is from Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This province is the home of tortellini, but in Fulchiati's home town, they're called cappelletti, which translates to little hats. “It’s very popular now in Parma in the wintertime, to sell cups of cappelletti in brodo as a takeaway so you can walk in the streets while eating your cappelletti.”
“Keep it simple. A nice ragù is always the way to go, especially if you have a bit of time on your hands. Or cacio e pepe. My wife and I always make cacio e pepe when we’re hungry and we don’t have many ingredients at home. It requires very few ingredients, but with the right technique, it’s very good.”
The pasta that put him on the map
Tortellini with a cacio e pepe filling, which he started making at the beginning of the pandemic, after being stood down from his job. He started selling it as part of his pasta-delivery service and the popularity of this dish (and others) led him to open restaurant and deli Al Dente Enoteca earlier this year with Davide Bonadiman.
His go-to pasta at home
“I don’t spend much time at home since opening the restaurant. The restaurant is my home, I’m here seven days,” he says. But when he does manage to get the odd day off, he’s a fan of filled pasta, “with lobster or something tasty”.
“You don’t need to stick to a recipe. If you want to do filled pasta at home, have fun with the filling. You can mix a bit of cheese with seasonal veggies and have a nice vegetarian pasta or a lobster with a light cheese like ricotta to keep the flavour of the fish. Or nice roast beef with white or red wine.”
These four chefs were supposed to take part in the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s The Big Spaghetti event, a big pasta party at Queen Victoria Market. The Winter Edition of the festival has been cancelled because of the pandemic, but fingers crossed that The Big Spaghetti might go ahead in 2022 as part of the festival’s 30th anniversary.
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