‘I trained as a chef in Rome, but it was only when I came to London that I had the idea to make pasta.’ I’m talking to Simone Remoli, an Italian chef who upped sticks to London 12 years ago, after spending the first four years of his career in Italy. Racking up experience at restaurants including Roka, Barrafina and Bocca di Lupo, it was at the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli that Remoli had his epiphany. He says, ‘In Italy, making fresh pasta was a lot of hard work. It’s done by hand and it’s impossible to make a business that way. At Locanda Locatelli I saw how they were using machinery to make pasta. It was quicker, and the different way of eating in London gave me the idea of fresh pasta to take away.’
Renting out a kitchen in Soho, Remoli practised his pasta recipes. ‘Then I sent my fresh pasta to the chefs of central London to get feedback from them, and Aldo Zilli invited me to work with him in his café. We tripled the sales in four months!’ Zilli’s turned out to be the stepping stone Remoli needed to start his own business.
He explains, ‘A director of Westfield Stratford tasted the pasta at Zilli Café and fell in love with it! She liked the concept of the customer choosing the pasta and the sauce, and she asked me to open my own place at Westfield Stratford, which was launching a few months later.’ Remoli opened his second restaurant in Finsbury Park in 2015, and a third is planned for Ealing Broadway.
Here are his top tips for getting fresh pasta right in the comfort of your own kitchen…
The right recipe
‘All you need is 375g 00 Flour and four medium eggs. Pour the flour on the table and create a well in the centre before cracking the eggs into it. Using a fork, stir slowly to incorporate the eggs and flour until you have a wet dough. Once the mixture has begun to combine, start to knead the dough with your hands for four to five minutes, incorporating the flour until you have a firm dough which is smooth and soft. Next, form a ball shape and wrap the dough in cling film before resting the dough for 20 minutes at room temperature.’
Turn off the air con
‘When you’re making the pasta, close the windows, and switch off any heating or air conditioning because the wind and air dry up the pasta quicker. If the pasta does start getting dry as you’re making the ravioli parcels, wet your finger with a little bit of water and run that over the edges to close it.’
‘Make your dough as wet as possible, because you can always add flour, but if it becomes too dry, you need to start over again. So if the recipe says 375g of flour, maybe initially use 360g of flour, then add more slowly, until you get the right texture. Always have a bowl of flour next to you, to add flour from time to time. Then when you roll the pasta, add flour to the sheet as it becomes thinner, so it doesn’t stick in the roller.’
It’s all in the detail
‘Concentrate on what you’re doing and don’t leave anything to chance. Pay attention to the details, like making sure the consistency of the filling is not too wet or it will break the sheet of pasta, and simmer your sauce on a medium heat, rather than hot, or you’ll burn your ingredients.’
A handy tip
‘Knead the dough with your hands for four or five minutes until you have a smooth surface and the consistency of the dough is uniform. You can use a machine, but I don’t recommend this – I do the dough by hand because it’s simple and you can understand the texture of your dough. However, making the pasta sheets is a different story. You can use a rolling pin but it’s more work – I recommend using the Kenwood Chef Sense Pasta Roller.’
‘Once you’ve made your dough, let it rest for at least 20 minutes, but no more than 40. You need to let the dough relax so it’s not too elastic, and so it doesn’t break when you put the sheets in the roller.’
Pasta Remoli offers masterclasses in making fresh pasta
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