“Honestly, I am really excited to be welcoming all these great chefs into my kitchen,” says Kevin Garcia (Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina; 75 Ninth Avenue, inside Chelsea Market) as he prepares to host a taste-around pasta dinner in celebration of Pasta Month.
The event, United Tastes of Pasta, showcases dishes from a host of award-winning pasta specialist chefs, both from New York and farther afield. Jody Adams will share the taste of her Boston restaurants Rialto and Trade; Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier are bringing a sample of M.C. Spiedo from Boston, and Matt Accarrino is flying in from San Francisco’s SPQR for the event, which promises to be well worth the $55 ticket, with proceeds going to support Food Bank NYC.
“I was thrilled to be invited,” says Adams. “Anything that celebrates pasta — and gluten, come to that — is good with me. I love beautiful wheat pasta. Always have. It’s a large part of what compels me to work in an Italian restaurant. So it’s going to be exciting to meet the Rana family, and to hear about their history.” It’s a heritage that goes back half a century to Verona, Italy, where Giovanni Rana began to make and sell homemade pasta.
“It’s great to bring pasta lovers together,” says Garcia. “And it’s great that we can all learn form each other and share ideas. Back in the day it used to be so secretive and guarded, but I love that now we can get inspired from each other, and learn and grow. It’s not competitive.”
That said, for a “not competitive” event, the chefs are pulling out the stops on their dishes.
“I’m making a ravioli filled with salt cod, with a mascarpone citrus caviar sauce,” says Garcia. “One side of the pasta will be made with squid ink — because it’s an amazing color and it’s good to have with the fish filling — and the other side is yellow pasta, so it looks striking. I’ve been refining it for a couple of months now. I’m excited to make it.”
“I’m making tortellini,” says Frasier. “Because we’re known for Renaissance food, we’re incorporating some rosewater, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron along with the mascarpone and ricotta filling, and we’re serving it with roasted pumpkin and a nod to our Maine restaurant — lobster. I’ve been practicing. I had all my friends over for a dinner party to try it and they loved it. It’s definitely delicious.”
Bringing it big time, Adams is going with a dish that’s appeared seasonally on her restaurants’ menus for twenty years: squash ravioli with littleneck clams, sage, and pomegranate. “I always buy my clams from this couple, Pat and Barbara Woodbury. They take incredible care of them, and I’m so proud to serve them. I know this is a great flavor combination. I know it’s going to taste beautiful.”
Following the event, the dishes will be featured on the menu at Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina. “Every time someone orders the pasta we’ll donate one dollar to Food Bank,” says Garcia. The restaurant is also donating 100,000 meals. “It’s an excellent cause that we really believe in.”
“So basically,” Frasier concludes, “it’s going to be a wonderful dinner, with great chefs and interesting people, for a fantastic cause. Honestly, it’s a win-win-win.”
United Tastes of Pasta goes down October 28 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Get tickets here.