Pasta Class with Chef Thomas McNaughton: Part I by Jessica Hui

Pasta Class I

Earlier this month, I had the joy of attending my first culinary sessions ever, flour+water’s Pasta Class Series. It’s a two-part series, and I can’t say enough how important attending both in sequence really was. Like any carefully prepared and well thought-out meal, the progression of the classes was key.

I arrived at the class a little early (what can I say, I was excited!) so I checked in at flour+water and they offered me a glass of proscecco while waiting- yum! As the 10 of us arrived, we walked up to the The Test Kitchen. I had always wondered what it looked like, and what kind of magic went on inside.

test kitchen

Inside was a cozy kitchen with a giant butcher’s block in the center, and a wall lined with cookbooks – “a reference library for everyone at flour+water”, Chef explained to us.

cookbooks

I always see Chef in the kitchens at Central Kitchen and flour+water, but it was a little unreal to see him outside of the restaurants in front of us, personally teaching us how to make pasta. He showed us how to make each pasta, happily helped us with ours, and gave us his tips and techniques. Definitely pretty cool :)

chef orr

After a glass (or two) of proscecco, we settled in at our stations as Chef went over the two kinds of pasta we’d be making in this 1st class, a little history on each shape, and what they mean to him.

pasta machine on table

We started off with a pasta from Emilia-Romagna: garganelli, an egg-based tube shaped pasta from squares of dough – similar in form to penne but all hand-rolled. I had only imagined tubular-shaped pastas to come out of an extruder, so being able to make this shape by hand was really cool.

garganelli

Next was orecchiette, an ear-shaped pasta from Puglia hand-shaped from a semolina-based dough; also Chef’s favorite shape because “it’s really rare to see homemade ones in restaurants.” Made with small dabs of dough and a butter knife used to roll: “the key here is, you want to see lots of stretch marks.” After forming a few of them, I could see why these were Chef’s favorite shape — they aren’t as easy to make as they look, but once you get that perfect little ear, it’s quite a beauty…stretch marks and all.

orecchiette own

After making our own pasta, the butcher’s block was cleared and transformed into a private dining table. Chef then proceeded to cook us a whole meal! Not only did he make us garganelli and orecchiette, but also a few surprises. Everything was served family style so you could help yourself to seconds (and in my case, thirds) complete with wine throughout the meal.

menu

After the class was complete, we each left with our pastas all packed up to take home, a recipe book to recreate them, and full+happy tummies. I absolutely LOVED this class. It was truly one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. Chef and his awesome team do a great job of making everyone feel really welcome and special no matter what pasta skill level they’re at. Looking forward to the Part II!

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