Inspired by Italy

For decades, epicurean travels through Europe
have been a rite of passage for American chefs,
and Italy has always been an essential stop.
Here, three American chefs share what they
learned on their own Italian journeys
.

Making pasta with the pros Read his story >Buy his book >Get his tips >

Thomas McNaughton

Executive Chef/Partner, Ne Timeas Restaurant Group
(flour + water, central kitchen, salumeria and Café du Nord)

In his mid-twenties, chef Thomas McNaughton found himself in a pasta-making workshop in Italy, working side-by-side with Italian ladies of all ages, kneading, rolling and filling fresh pasta for hours every day. “I was the only guy, I was about two feet taller than everyone else, and I didn’t speak Italian. I stood out like a sore thumb,” says McNaughton. But that didn’t stop him from learning everything he could about making pasta, a skill that served him well when he opened flour + water, a San Francisco restaurant that was an instant hit thanks in part to its intensive pasta program.

 

Learning from the Locals Read her story >Buy her book >Get her recipe >

Jenn Louis

Chef and co-owner of Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, Oregon
Author of Pasta by Hand

To write her cookbook, Pasta by Hand, Portland-based chef Jenn Louis went straight to the source: She traveled to Italy and practiced making Italian dumpling pastas, such as gnocchi, with local chefs and home cooks. “At first people weren’t really sure about me, but as soon as I started getting my hands in the dough, they completely opened up,” says Louis. “They became comfortable showing me techniques and regional ways of making pasta that they were really proud of.” Louis took her scribbled notes and transformed them into precise, easy-to-follow recipes based on the dishes she learned on her travels. “That Italian pride really came through to me in the recipes,” says Louis. “It’s about memory and emotion.”

Getting inspired by the seasons Read her story >Buy her book >Get her recipe >

Sara Jenkins

Chef and Owner of Porsena restaurant in New York City and co-author of the forthcoming The Four Seasons of Pasta cookbook.

Sara Jenkins grew up spending summers in a farmhouse in Tuscany. It was there that she learned to make pasta from her neighbor, a farmwife and gardener. Eventually Jenkins went on to open the pasta-focused restaurant Porsena in New York City, but she still returns to Italy regularly to harvest olive trees on her property and gather seasonal cooking inspiration. “Last time I was there I tried an asparagus and ricotta ravioli with lemon butter and, when I came back, I added it to my menu immediately,” says Jenkins. “It’s almost impossible not to discover something new in Italy.”

More Italian Inspiration Where to eat in Italy >Shop Italian Essentials >