Becoming a Pasta Maker ((Napa part 4))

I must say, the idea of a head chef and restau­rant own­er per­son­al­ly train­ing me in the art and sci­ence of pas­ta mak­ing seemed very exciting…until the morn­ing came to be taught. I was ner­vous — like first day at a new school ner­vous. I need­ed my BF to be tag­ging along, or my hub­by — or let’s be hon­est, even the idea of bring­ing my 8-year-old was start­ing to become very appeal­ing. But it was just me. I walked into the restau­rant and decid­ed it was time to begin act­ing like I wasn’t ner­vous, I slipped on the white chef’s jack­et and intro­duced myself. With my intro­duc­tion, I quick­ly deflat­ed any notions he may have had about me. “I know noth­ing, I have nev­er made pas­ta — I don’t even have a pas­ta mak­er.” I said with a short laugh and a smile.


Good — you are at the right place!” he hap­pi­ly respond­ed, and pro­ceed­ed to intro­duce him­self: Tyler Rodde of Oenotri.


We got right to busi­ness with a quick tour of the kitchen and as we walked I asked him for a rec­om­men­da­tion for a pas­ta mak­er. Specif­i­cal­ly, did he pre­fer the bench-clamped hand-crank pas­ta machine or some­thing elec­tric. To my delight, he actu­al­ly uses the Kitchen Aid pas­ta-roller attach­ment to make all of the restaurant’s flat pas­ta. “I can do that!” I exclaimed excit­ed­ly.


He went on to talk to me about the ingre­di­ents that go into his pas­ta “We use a 1:1:1: ratio for mak­ing our pas­ta — mean­ing one cup of flour, one whole egg & one egg yolk per sin­gle batch of pas­ta.” 

Me: “How many peo­ple will one batch serve?”

Chef Tyler ((CT)): “It depends but usu­al­ly 3 adults”

Me: “How many batch­es can you make at once?”

CT: “On the Kitchen Aid, you could maybe fit 6 ((6 c flour, 6 eggs and 6 yolks)) batch­es in the bowl and turn it all out at once, but it would be real­ly hard on the mixer’s motor. I would only do a max of 4 at a time.”


Then we went on to talk about the flour. For their pas­ta, the only use a superfine “00” flour. This flour is extreme­ly high in gluten and will cause the fresh pas­ta to achieve the per­fect “tooth­i­ness” we all love — aka al dente. Al dente is eas­i­er to achieve when work­ing with a dried pas­ta. Appar­ent­ly, it is easy to make fresh pas­ta incor­rect­ly — which will always yield a mushy tex­ture in the fin­ished prod­uct. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Using “dou­ble O” flour ((as it is called)) and han­dling the pas­ta dough in a par­tic­u­lar way prac­ti­cal­ly guar­an­tees a per­fect pas­ta. BTW, Oenotri has a spe­cial gluten-free flour blend avail­able for pas­ta and piz­zas by request! This blend is spe­cial­ly made for Oenotri by a chef at Bou­chon.


CT went on to assem­ble the yolk, whole egg and the cup of flour. He also placed the flat beat­er attach­ment on the Kitchen Aid. As he dumped the short list of ingre­di­ents into the mix­er bowl, he went on to explain why he does not make pas­ta by hand. ((By hand would be dump­ing the flour out on the work table, cre­at­ing a well in the cen­ter and fill­ing the well with the egg & yolk… and so forth.))

CT: “For me it is a time spent ver­sus mon­ey earned all rel­a­tive to the qual­i­ty of the prod­uct made. I have found this method makes just as good, if not bet­ter, pas­ta than the pas­ta I would make by hand. First of all the prod­uct is much more con­sis­tent, no longer being depen­dent upon who is mak­ing it. Sec­ond, my time and ener­gy can be spent in oth­er areas. So here in my restau­rant, I always make sheet pas­ta using the Kitchen Aid and the pas­ta-roller attach­ment.”


As soon as he said “…my time and ener­gy can be spent in oth­er areas.” my mind flashed to the hours lead­ing up to din­ner­time. I imme­di­ate­ly felt a strange kin­ship with this man. He is prac­ti­cal­ly speak­ing into my day in my home with my herd. 

I have not attempt­ed home­made pas­ta pri­or to this day for this very rea­son. I was cer­tain the “elab­o­rate” process would suck time and ener­gy from oth­er areas of my day — that to be per­fect­ly hon­est didn’t have the addi­tion­al time or ener­gy to give. Now, as he spoke, my heart was feel­ing lighter — and I began to real­ize “I think I can do this — and do it well!”


He flipped on the mix­er and the ingre­di­ents began to com­bine into a slop­py look­ing dough. He paused and said, “Notice — I didn’t lock the mix­er? I let it bob a bit — that puts less wear on the motor, you mix­er will last much longer if you let it bob ((GREAT TIP!!)). He pro­ceed­ed to add about 1 T of olive oil & 1 T of cold water and con­tin­ued to mix until large clumps formed. 

The dough was then scooped out and formed into a sim­ple disk ((by hand)), wrapped in plas­tic wrap, and placed in the fridge for 20 min­utes. This lit­tle rest is an impor­tant step in the process of mak­ing per­fect pas­ta — giv­ing the gluten in the dough time to form.

While the pas­ta was rest­ing I asked CT a few more ques­tions:

Me: “What got you inter­est­ed in food?”


CT: “I was a swim­mer at the UC ((I for­got maybe SF)) and I had to eat 15,000 calo­ries per day to main­tain my weight. Eat­ing became work and I dread­ed it. So one day, I start­ed watch­ing Food Net­work and began cook­ing for myself. After I grad­u­at­ed with a degree in Eco­nom­ics, I decid­ed to go to culi­nary school. I worked three jobs to put myself through school and those jobs includ­ed bar­tender and restau­rant posi­tions in the back of the house ((kitchen)) sous chef etc. One day, I got into an argu­ment over philoso­phies about pas­try with my Pas­try II pro­fes­sor. I walked out the door and nev­er went back. I took all of the mon­ey I had saved to pay my way through school and invest­ed it into a restau­rant, with­in a year my invest­ment was returned to me with a very nice prof­it. That same year and sev­er­al years fol­low­ing, I began open­ing restau­rants for oth­er peo­ple. After a few years, I took my earn­ings and opened my own restau­rant, I have been here ever since.”


While we con­tin­ued to chat, CT salt­ed a pot of water and set the pot on the fire. He must have seen my eyes bulge when he salt­ed the water because he laughed and said “what?!”. “Wow — that is a lot of salt!” He went on to share anoth­er help­ful tip “You want the water to taste like the sea.” — okay got it water tastes like sea, I men­tal­ly checked the thought off in my mind.

Remem­ber,” he con­tin­ued “we nev­er added salt to the pas­ta dough? Well, here is where we add the salt.”


He returned to the fridge and brought back the chilled disk of pas­ta dough, unwrapped it and cut it in half. He fixed the pas­ta-roller attach­ment to the mix­er, floured the work table and pro­ceed­ed to flip the mix­er on & feed the pas­ta into the roller ((which he set at a “2” — the widest set­ting was a 1 and went up to the thinnest set­ting of “6”)).


CT: “Isn’t that the ugli­est look­ing pas­ta dough you have ever seen? I feed it though, tri-fold it on the floured sur­face, press out the air bub­bles and feed it through again. I repeat this 10 times.”


Look at the dif­fer­ence — it starts out so messy but quick­ly forms into a uni­form sheet.


As it is fed through the last time — it has become a per­fect rec­tan­gle!


CT cut this sheet in half & set one half aside. Now it was time to turn this dough into a sheet of pas­ta — and then into pap­pardelle.

CT dialed the width of the pas­ta roller down to “4”, fed it through twice, fold­ing it again between each roller feed ((on the floured sur­face)). He paused and asked “Can you tell the spongi­ness is gone? It is much more firm isn’t it?? This is because the gluten has formed”. He then asked “How thin do you like your pas­ta? I some­times make it a “5” oth­er times a “6”. 


Me: “As thin as pos­si­ble — let’s make it a “6”.” He com­plied, fed it through one more time and laid it out on the work table, cut it into 4 sheets, stacked the sets on top of each oth­er. “What do you want to make with the oth­er half?” CT asked. “Lasagna?” I asked think­ing that would be a total­ly dif­fer­ent prep and usage of the pas­ta sheets. 

CT: “Sure, you are going to do this one!” 

Ner­vous­ly, I walked over and reset the dial to “4” and fed the pas­ta through, fold­ed it and re-fed it through 4 or 5 times.

Wait”, he said — you only need­ed to do that twice, now you can adjust it to “6” and feed it through a once or twice”, he remind­ed me.

That task was quick­ly done. He cut both long sheets into 4 sec­tions, set the lasagna sheets aside and began to hand-cut the pap­pardelle.


He sep­a­rat­ed the noo­dles, tossed them in a bit (a few T) of semoli­na and nes­tled them on a pile on a lined bak­ing sheet.


He walked away for just a moment and returned with an ice bath. “Once the pas­ta is cooked ((20 sec­onds in boil­ing water)), you will remove it from the salt­ed water and drop it in here, just for a moment to shock it and stop the cook­ing process. But here is where I will throw you for a loop: this ice bath needs to be salt­ed too. ((he pro­ceed­ed to lib­er­al­ly salt the water bath))”

Me: “Ahh, it is basic sci­ence — the salt ions with go to low­est con­cen­tra­tion of salt — dif­fu­sion!”

CT smiled and said “Exact­ly! If you skip this step, you have just rinsed all of the salt off of your pas­ta.”

I took a sec­ond and told him about my Bachelor’s in Sci­ence and Master’s in Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing. Two food­ie nerds — basi­cal­ly self-taught, it was a moment. haha.


As we chat­ted, he added 2 fine­ly chopped cloves of gar­lic to an oiled pan, heat­ed the gar­lic, added about 6 oz of water and allowed the water to cook out. This was all done to pre­vent the gar­lic from burn­ing all the while let­ting that raw gar­lic fla­vor cook out of the sauce. He also added a sprin­kle of sea salt and a few pats of but­ter.

He instruct­ed me to add the pas­ta to the sauce and “swirl” not “toss” to coat. 

CT: “Toss­ing caus­es the pas­ta to clump and the sauce dis­ap­pears. See…” he said as he took the pan from me and tossed the pas­ta into the air about ten times. Sure enough, the sauce sprayed out of the pan and the pas­ta clumped. “But this can be fixed, watch…” and with that he set the pan back on the fire and added a few ounces of boil­ing water back to the pas­ta. He hand­ed it back to me — and sure enough as I swirled, the sauce formed and thick­ened nice­ly. I poured it into a pas­ta dish and we both took a bite.


Me: “WOW!! This is so good! It is per­fect — the sim­ple gar­lic but­ter sauce…it is my favorite!!”

CT: “and the tooth­i­ness?”

Me: “per­fect! amaz­ing — wow, amaz­ing!” I ate all but the 3 or 4 bites CT ate. And I am not sor­ry.


Now onto lasagna-mak­ing! He cut the sheets to fit into his lasagna dish, I boiled the pas­ta for 20–30 sec­onds, dropped the sheets into an ice bath and then pulled them out & laid them onto a lined bak­ing sheet.


CT driz­zled each side with a few drops of olive oil and we began lay­er­ing the lasagna!


A sim­ple house-made toma­to sauce, topped with one of our pas­ta sheets, some diced rain­bow chard stalks and a few torn chard leaves.


A lit­tle more sauce and anoth­er pas­ta lay­er.


Some fresh-made ricot­ta.


Anoth­er pas­ta lay­er, more sauce and some grat­ed fonti­na.


Into the wood-burn­ing oven it went for about 15 min­utes. To dupli­cate this step at home, just bake for 15–18 min­utes at 350°.


Per­fec­tion. The edges were crisp, the greens were wilt­ed and the cheese was melt­ed and gooey. Oh, and the pas­ta — sim­ply perfect…simple being the key! And with that, a pas­ta mak­er I have become. I went home and pur­chased my own attach­ment, gath­ered the “00” flour and semoli­na and am plan­ning my next pas­ta din­ner! What a great time I had — no need to be ner­vous at all!

The Very Best ((easy)) Home­made Pas­ta Dough
Serves 4
Every sim­ple egg-based pas­ta dough. Superfine “00” flour and the fresh­est eggs yield the per­fect “al dente’ tex­tured pas­ta -every sin­gle time!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 min
  1. 1 cup superfine 00 flour
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 yolk
  4. olive oil, approx­i­mate­ly 2 T
  5. cold water, approx­i­mate­ly 1 T
  6. 1/2 c semoli­na
  7. sea salt for pas­ta water
  1. Using a stand mix­er, such as a Kitchen Aid, add first three ingre­di­ents to the accom­pa­ny­ing mix­ing bowl. Attach the mix­ing pad­dle and begin mix­ing on low speed. Increase speed as flour and egg begin to com­bine. Stop and scrap pad­dle and sides. Con­tin­ue mix­ing until flour and egg are com­plete­ly incor­po­rat­ed. Driz­zle oil over pas­ta and mix until the oil has com­bined with the dough. ((The dough will be sticky))
  2. Remove dough from bowl and form into an approx­i­mate­ly 4″ disk. Wrap the pas­ta dough disk with plas­tic wrap and refrig­er­ate for 20 min­utes to over night.***
  3. Light­ly dust your work sur­face with 00 flour.
  4. Remove pas­ta from the fridge after it has rest­ed.
  5. Con­nect pas­ta roller attach­ment to the stand mix­er and begin feed­ing the pas­ta dough through the roller set at the widest or next widest set­ting. Fold the pas­ta sheet in half and press it togeth­er firm­ly on the floured sur­face, mak­ing sure all air bub­ble have been pressed out. Feed the dough through the roller again. Lay the sheet out again on the floured work sur­face and this time fold the pas­ta sheet into thirds* and feed it through the machine. Repeat this process until the pas­ta has been rolled 10 times.
  6. Cut the pas­ta sheet in half and begin the process rolling the pas­ta into a very thin sheet.
  7. **Adjust the dial on the roller to “4” and feed the pas­ta through. Gen­tly lay the length­ened sheet out on the floured sur­face and fold in half or thirds, feed it into the roller again. Adjust the roller to your desired thick­ness, I pre­fer “6” and feed the sheet through again.
  8. Lay the pas­ta sheet back out on the floured sur­face and cut the equal­ly into sheets of your desired length ((fourths worked for me)). Set these sheets aside on a parch­ment lined bak­ing sheet.
  9. Using the remain­ing half of the pas­ta dough, repeat the steps marked with a **.
  10. At this point, either stack all 8 sheets up on them­selves and cut hor­i­zon­tal­ly to desired noo­dle width, or use for lasagna sheets, or if you are ambi­tious, use for ravi­o­li. ((I am not includ­ing ravi­o­li instruc­tions with this recipe.))
  11. If you are prepar­ing these noo­dles for imme­di­ate use, fill a large pot with water ((about 3″ from the top)), salt the water with approx­i­mate­ly 1/4 c of sea salt and bring the water to boil. ((A pas­ta insert is very handy to use at this point because the cooked pas­ta is so del­i­cate, if you have one, insert it into the pot now. If you don’t have one, you can just gen­tly strain the pas­ta out of the water.))
  12. –If mak­ing noo­dles, such a pap­pardelle, the cut noo­dles will be approx­i­mate­ly 1″ in width. Sep­a­rate each noo­dle so they are not stick­ing to each oth­er. Gen­tly drop the noo­dles into a pile on the lined bak­ing sheet. Sprin­kle a few T of semoli­na over the cut noo­dles and gen­tly toss to coat. This step will keep the noo­dles from clump­ing.
  13. Pre­pare an ice bath in a medi­um-sized mix­ing bowl, add 1/4 c of salt to the ice bath.
  14. Gen­tly drop pap­pardelle into boil­ing water. As you do this, make sure the pas­ta is not clumped togeth­er. Boil the noo­dles for 30 sec­onds to 1 minute. Test for desired done­ness, drain and add the pas­ta to the ice bath, this will shock the pas­ta and stop the cook­ing process. Add the pas­ta to your desired sauce. We used a sim­ple gar­lic but­ter sauce. Swirl the pas­ta in the sauce until coat­ed and serve.
  15. –If mak­ing lasagna, cut the sheets to fit the lasagna bak­ing dish. You don’t need to toss the lasagna sheets with semoli­na.
  16. Pre­pare an ice bath in a medi­um-sized mix­ing bowl, add 1/4 c of salt to the ice bath.
  17. Gen­tly drop lasagna sheets into boil­ing salt­ed water. Take care to make sure the pas­ta sheets do not fold onto them­selves and clump. You may have to cook them in batch­es depend­ing on how big your sheets are. Cook the sheets for only 20 sec­onds. Remove and drop into the salt­ed ice bath. Quick­ly remove from the ice bath, driz­zle olive oil on each side of the sheet and lay them out in a sin­gle lay­er on a parch­ment lined bak­ing sheet. Begin lay­er­ing with desired cheeses and fill­ings. Bake at 350°. If mak­ing a sin­gle serv­ing lasagna, bake for 15–18 min­utes until hot through, for a fam­i­ly-size lasagna, bake for 30–35 min­utes.
  1. *Imag­ine the pas­ta rec­tan­gle is divid­ed into 3 equal parts. Men­tal­ly num­ber each sec­tion ((from left to right)) 1, 2 & 3. Fold 1 over onto 2, then fold three on top on 1 ((which is on top of 2)). Press out air bub­bles and feed through roller.
  2. ***Pas­ta can be refrig­er­at­ed up to one day or frozen up to one week.
Food for a Year:


    • Emily says:

      Hi Mindy, the semoli­na is just used for dust­ing sheets of pas­ta before boil­ing. The semoli­na keeps the pas­ta sheets from clump­ing togeth­er.
      Hope that explains it for you!

In true show & tell form: "I am open for questions & comments"

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