The Pleasure of Pasta

January 16, 2010

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Food writer Nancy Ross Ryan conducts a live interview with John Coletta, the executive chef-partner of Quartino Ristorante Pizzeria Wine Bar, and author of the new 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes.

Italy is arguably the most fiercely regional country in the world where culinary traditions are concerned. Before 1861, when it was unified, Italy was a collection of 20 separate kingdoms (ruled by disparate foreign invaders) and each kingdom had its own culinary traditions and variations, among them pasta. These traditions and the arguments that surround them persist today.

Despite this regionalism and the culinary rivalry it engenders, there is, nevertheless, a true, authentic Italian cuisine characterized by a devotion to and obsession with ingredients. Inside Italy these traditions may be unspoken but are understood. Outside Italy?

Decide for yourself when you hear Chef Coletta discuss:
• Did Marco Polo bring pasta to Italy from China?
• How many dried pasta shapes are there? 50?, 500?
• Is fresh pasta better than dried pasta?
• Crepes, (in his cookbook Chef Coletta calls them “cooking cousins” to pasta and gives many wonderful recipes) were most probably not invented by the French, but brought to France from Italy.

Chef John Coletta is truly a member of Chicago's culinary A-list. Before opening Quartino as Executive Chef/Managing Partner in 2005, he trained at New York's Waldorf Astoria and Four Seasons restaurant, and in France he trained under chef legends Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon. He has won gold medals at the International Culinary Olympics in Germany. In Chicago he has served in executive capacities at Chicago's Fairmont, Sheraton Chicago and Wyndham hotels. And that's only part of his illustrious background!

Nancy Ross Ryan, a longtime member of the Culinary Historians of Chicago, is former food editor of both Restaurants & Institutions and Plate magazines. In addition to writing 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes with Chef Coletta, Ms. Ryan has also co-authored co-authored The Berghoff Family Cookbook, and The Berghoff Cafe Cookbook, and was a contributor to All New Joy of Cooking. Ms. Ryan is President of Fresh Food Writing.

 

Recorded Saturday, January 16, 2010 at Quartino.