Friday, 14 November 2014

Pasta Master Class with chef Claudio Sadler

Sadler Masterclass @Italian Cuisine World Summit 2014

I couldn't have had a better occasion than this to inaugurate a new section of the blog where, besides recipes which remain the protagonists of this website, I want to talk about other food-related experiences worth being remembered and shared. Since the birth of this blog - relatively recent though - I hadn't experienced yet any food event really deserving a detailed review, with the only exception of some restaurants that I visited here in Dubai and really enjoyed, but whose reviews would maybe be superfluous or redundant considering the many and valuable ones already published by others. But the "original" occasion finally came and I am now very happy to talk about it.
During the month of November, more precisely from the 7th to the 20th, Dubai is hosting the sixth edition of the Italian Cuisine World Summit, an event celebrating Italian food and culinary tradition which gathers in the city some of the best and most renowned Italian chefs: the list includes guest master chefs at the helm of prestigious restaurants in Italy but also ambassadors of the Italian cuisine all around the world. The summit program is very intense and absolutely exciting: some of the finest Italian restaurants in Dubai are hosting gala events as well as dinners with special menus created by the Italian visiting chefs; an extensive series of cooking lessons, courses and seminars are being held at different venues, featuring chefs, experts, sommeliers and food writers; events, cooking shows, competitions and more will take place at several locations in the city. Check the summit's website to know the detailed programme or visit Dima Sharif's blog which, having being appointed as the official blog of the event, is following closely what is going on, anticipating upcoming events, introducing chefs, showing what is taking place throughout the summit, including some behind-the-scene. The event is really a great opportunity for Dubai's residents and visitors for having a first-hand experience with top quality Italian cuisine and food tradition, be it a dinner prepared by a celebrity chef or an family-friendly event or a seminar on olive oil (or something else) or a cooking lesson. Among this huge range of possibilities, thanks to Dima's invitation, I had the opportunity to attend a Master Class on dry Pasta held by the Michelin-starred chef Claudio Sadler.
Claudio Sadler is one of the most famous Italian chefs and for sure represents an important reference point for younger and aspiring chefs (in fact many of the most promising young chefs were Sadler pupils, in culinary schools or in one of his restaurants). He is known mainly for his ability to innovate the regional Italian cuisine, interpreting traditional recipes with personal and original creativity; and with great attention to the presentation of dishes. Sadler's headquarter is based in Milan, where he gained his first Michelin star in 1991 and the second in 2002, but he is renowned also abroad, especially in Japan and in China where he opened some restaurants with Sadler's name. In Milan, just beside his main restaurant he manages another nice place, with a modern bistro style, where it is possible to taste Sadler cuisine in a more informal way. And he is busy with many other different activities: he is one of the founder of "Jeunes Restaurateur d'Europe", a prestigious association for young chefs in Europe; he has worked as a consultant for several food companies as well as for food and cooking magazines; he gives cooking classes to both professionals and amateurs. And he is also a cookbook author; I have one on my bookshelf and I really  like it (and use it also): pictures are so inviting that you would like to try all the recipes; and one think that I really admire is the ability to combine many different ingredients, including some unusual ones, that probably I would never mix together by myself, but whose combination turns out perfectly balanced and enjoyable.
When living in Milan I visited Sadler restaurants, especially the bistro, many times and also had the occasion to talk with him; so I was very pleased when, during the cooking show,  he asked me where we had met before because my face was not new to him.
Sadler Masterclass @Italian Cuisine World Summit 2014

With regard to the Master Class on pasta, it was one of the several sessions of a one-week intensive course granting a professional certificate to participants (more details here) that is held at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. The cooking show took place is a spacious auditorium equipped with a kitchen as well as a screen with a close view on what the chef was doing.
The class was small that day but good part of the audience was represented by young chefs working for Italian restaurants in Dubai.
During the master class, the chef showed how to prepare three dishes, all of them revisited versions of traditional Italian recipes.
Sadler Masterclass @Italian Cuisine World Summit 2014
Spaghetti al pomodoro with mozzarella bubble

The first one was a real "classical" Italian dish, spaghetti al pomodoro (spaghetti with tomato sauce), as simple as delicious, absolutely one of my favorite pasta. Sadler made it different than usually, by cooking tomatoes (cherry or date tomatoes) in the microwave (fifteen minutes, maximum power, covered, with some basil, whole garlic cloves, a splash of olive oil, a pinch of salt and sugar) then blending with an immersion mixer directly into a strainer (after removing garlic and basil) to obtain a smooth sauce. The sauce, warmed in a saute pan, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste (and more sugar if necessary) and a splash of olive oil, was used to dress spaghetti cooked "al dente", finally garnished - out of the heat - with some basil chopped by hand (to maintain all the flavor and color).  At this point the chef showed how to make a beautiful final addition to the already perfect dish: mozzarella bubbles. The type of mozzarella most suitable for making bubbles is the fiordilatte (a kind of mozzarella made from cow's milk); melt fiordilatte in the microwave then, using a siphon filled with gas, inflate small pieces of melted mozzarella paste to make bubbles (Saddler tried, successfully though, to make bubbles out of buffalo mozzarella as he had not found proper fiordilatte). I really enjoyed this dish (as I usually like spaghetti al pomodoro), so basic but so tasty and flavorful; and tomatoes, cooked in the microwave, have a slightly different taste than prepared in the traditional way, preserving better the flavor of fresh, raw tomatoes.  A must-try recipe, especially considering how easy and fast it is, and requiring ingredients usually available at home.
Sadler Masterclass @Italian Cuisine World Summit 2014
Pennette alla carbonara with caviars

The second dish was absolutely my favorite of the day and one of the most original interpretations of another Italian regional dish - pasta alla carbonara - I ever tried. Pasta alla carbonara is a dish, typical of the city of Rome (the Italian capital), where pasta is tossed in a sauce made with egg yolks, cream (purists of the recipe omit the cream), grated pecorino or parmigiano, and diced sauteed guanciale (or pancetta or bacon). Sadler showed how to make a pork - free version of this dish, where pancetta is substituted for a typical Japanese ingredient, bonito flakes or katsuobushi, whose smoked, umami flavor reminds that of the Italian pork-based ingredient.
Katsuobushi is melted in simmering cream, then the mixture is reduced, always simmering, for about fifteen minutes; at this point, with heat at a minimum, egg yolks (about one per person) are added. then sauce should gently simmer until it starts to thicken (heat must be kept very low to avoid making scrambled eggs). Then the sauce is blended and strained and used to sautèe, again at a very low temperatue, a short pasta (like pennette or maccheroncini or even spaghetti alla chitarra) cooked very "al dente"; some reserved pasta cooking water can be added to have the desired creaminess of the sauce.  Then the pasta is transferred to serving plates and garnished with different fish eggs: Sadler used green and yellow tobiko and salmon roe (but also caviar could be used instead). Edible flowers sprinkled on top made the final, beautiful addition. This pasta was so good that I have already started checking where to find Japanese ingredients in Dubai because I absolutely want to make it as soon as possible. And I didn't like much carbonara before...
Sadler Masterclass @Italian Cuisine World Summit 2014
Maccheroncini di Campofilone with white truffle and black trumpet sauce

The last recipe was something more - let's say - luxurious, yet perfectly in season: Maccheroncini di Campofilone with white truffle and black trumpet sauce.
Maccheroncini di Campofilone are a type of very thin tagliatelle (not properly dry pasta, since they are an egg pasta) typical of the Marche region (in the Eastern central Italy), while the white truffle is the finest, more exquisite varieties of truffle whose seasonality pick is during the months of October and November (the most famous comes from the Piedmont region, the city of Alba in particular where a worldwide famous fair takes place in November). In general, in order to enhance truffle flavor, it is served with simple recipes: baked eggs, meat tartare, or egg pasta tossed with melted butter and parmigiano cheese. And this is the recipe presented by Sadler, with the addition of a sauce made from black trumpet (a particular variety of mushroom). The chef suggested to make noisette butter (or brown butter) instead of simply melted butter for this recipe in order to further enhance the flavor or the truffle. The recipe is really simple yet delicious (I love white truffle and the combination with butter tagliolini is my favorite together with the meat tartare).

I really enjoyed the cooking show; there is always much to learn from master chefs...


  1. Francesca the food looks amazing but I love your instructional description which your lucky readers will find very useful as they pick up a technique or two. I am so glad you enjoyed the Masterclass, and agreed Chef Sadler is one of the finest out there for Italian Cuisine. Some are the fathers of new cuisine and Sadler is definitely one. What can ever be better than learning from the masters of the masters who had spent years perfecting the techniques and traditions, who come here in a week to offer us years of practice and research each in a Masterclass! To me personally, this is the dream of all ambitious and serious cooks and happy to know you enjoy it too :) Thanks for sharing your experience x

  2. Many thanks Dima. You used the perfect definition for Sadler: one of the fathers of the modern Italian cuisine. He is so innovative and this is why many young chefs followed his school! So glad I had this opportunity. I visited his restaurants in Italy and have his cookbooks, but listening directly from him some techniques is really different; everything seems so easy but in reality is the results of continuous work and research. Wonderful experience...

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