We were lucky enough to chat to the star chef of Pasta Evangelists, Roberta d’Elia.
We spoke to her about the therapeutic nature of cooking, how her nonna can sniff a good tomato from a mile off and why Pasta Evangelists brings the fantastic food culture of Italy to the UK
What is your favourite pasta shape and where did you grow up?
I’m making some orecchiette, this is a very special shape of pasta, not only my favourite shape of pasta but that’s the shape of pasta from the region from where I come from, Puglia. I grew up surrounded by olive trees, between my mum and grandma, so two strong personalities! They have taught me a lot about how to not only make a beautiful meal but also how to live a healthy lifestyle.
How does the culture of food in Italy influence Pasta Evangelists?
It’s very important for us the food, we always talks about food; everything is about food in Italy! If I call my mum today she knows what to eat in a weeks time (amazing!)…they plan every day!
Quality ingredients are the most important. I remember my grandma going to the market and touching each tomato from any suppliers and I was like nonna for me the red is the same red….but no! She could touch the tomatoes and see the colours and understand how sweet and how sour and for what she could use that specific product. I believe at Pasta Evangelists we wanted to exactly do the same, quality ingredients is the key for us.
What’s the secret to a delicious Italian meal?
It’s only about quality ingredients not quantity, the less you use the more delicious it is going to be!
You are looking for a good quality olive oil, you are looking for good quality tomatoes and that’s what will make it so special. At Pasta evangelists we do the same, we like to source many ingredients direct from Italy, which is going to bring to you different flavours and something we want to share with all of you.
How does making pasta make you feel?
I always say that pasta is not only a great way to having an amazing and delicious meal, making pasta is a way of distressing completely. I always call it pasta therapy and whenever I need something that will bring me probably back home, and also away from the issue of the day, for me it’s making the pasta that is the best therapy.
What’s your fave herb to cook with?
I absolutely love a bay leaf; it grew in my farm growing up. My mum would dry until the water is out and then you can store in a glass jar. I never close it completely as I am afraid the condensation will get the bay leafs spoiled. With a bay leaf its not only infusing lots of meats and ragu, even just a tomato sauce, but we do something in Puglia that we love and that’s transforming the bay leaf into a bay leaf liqueur! We use it as a digestive, so you would normally have it at the end of the meal.
Why should people give pasta making a go?
Anything that is crafty, anything that you can create with your hands, in my case it’s the pasta. If you give it a go your mind will switch off your brain completely, you will concentrate on making the pasta and again you will create amazing products, an amazing meal and at the same time you will really help yourself. Pasta is not only delicious but making pasta is an amazing therapy!
Our La Dolce Vita box is all about the benefits of cooking on the mind, and the importance of taking a mini break ( in the form of our box!) Chef Roberta is a big part of this months box so sign up now for a change to get to know Roberta and learn a new skill!