Guest Post By Caleigh
One of the things that interests me most about trying new restaurants is getting to know the chefs behind the amazing dishes. Finding out about their culinary journey and what inspires them always takes dining experiences to a whole new level. I recently had the pleasure of joining an acclaimed chef, Evan Funke, for a night of gluttony at Gusto 101’s private wine cellar in Toronto to get a preview of his upcoming menu at Felix LA…
After working in some of the best restaurants in Beverly Hills (including Spago by Wolfgang Puck), Chef Evan Funke travelled across the ocean to Bologna, Italy where he studied under master pasta maker Alessandra Spisni of La Vecchia Scuola. In order to learn the authentic way to prepare traditional Italian cuisine, Funke studied the historic traditions of making handmade pasta (pasta fatta a mano) and dedicated his time to perfecting the blend of flavours and spices that go into his sauces. Just watch this video and you’ll get a sense of his incredible passion – a true homage to pasta…
Set to open in Summer 2016, Chef Even Funke will bring his culinary finesse to Felix LA. We hear the resto will have an open kitchen equipped with a wood-fired pizza oven and Tuscan grill. More importantly: the food. Funke has worked with California’s finest farmers and ranchers to develop an outstanding menu. Expect to see some stellar pasta dishes: Funke has beautifully-mastered and fused his contemporary culinary skills with traditional Italian pasta making techniques…
We were fortunate enough to taste some of the upcoming dishes that will be served at Felix LA — from a slow-roasted porchetta to the Israeli-inspired Carciofi alla Giudia. One thing is certain: Funke knows exactly how to breathe new life into traditional Italian cuisine. My favourite dish, by far, was the Gnocchetti with Pesto Genovese (handmade gnocchetti topped with fresh basil pesto). A heavenly pasta dish that should be on your list of eats the next time you’re in LA. Until then, here is Chef Evan Funke’s recipe to try your hand at making a traditional Italian dish in the comfort of your own home:
GNOCCHETTI W/PESTO GENOVESE
FOR THE PESTO
250g fresh basil picked
60g toasted pine nuts
50g Parmigiano Reggiano
50g Pecorino Romano
10g peeled garlic
Pinch of salt
2.5 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
250g gnocchetti pasta or desired shape
2 steel mixing bowls
Heavy bottom pot
- In a high speed blender combine the pine nuts, both cheeses, garlic, salt and COR Abrequina EXVO.
- Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- Begin adding the basil leaves in small amounts until all the basil is blended smooth.
- Adjust seasoning.
- Pour the pesto into a metal mixing bowl over ice to cool and retain colour.
- Once cool, leave at room temperature if using immediately or refrigerate for later use.
FOR THE PASTA
- Set a pot of salted water to boil over high heat
- Add the corzetti and cook 8-12 minutes or to desired doneness
- While the pasta cooks, place the mixing bowl of pesto over the pot so that the steam warms the sauce.
- Strain the finished pasta and reserve a small portion of water
- Add the pasta to the warmed pesto plus a touch of water to emulsify the sauce
- Grate approx. 1⁄2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano into the pasta and mix gently but thoroughly. Serve warm.
Special thanks to Gusto 54 Restaurant Group for hosting me. As always, all reviews and opinions are entirely my own.