Getting My Pasta Game On at Pebble Beach!
A few weeks ago, I flew to Pebble Beach to watch the Barilla Pasta World Championship U.S. Qualifying event, which took place during the opening night of the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. Arriving at the event was a shock because the mood went from chill and relaxed Monterey, CA, to intense competition once you got inside!
These chefs came to win and with good reason – the winning chef (out of the eight selected to compete) gets to go to Paris to compete in the Pasta World Championship in October!
I always find pasta to be a very creative start to dinner. You can take it so many directions, but I had no idea just how creative you can be with it. These chefs were doing stuff I hadn’t seen before. Did you know you can smoke pasta?!
Whether it’s a crazy experimental dish or a simple pesto, pasta always makes me feel at home. It’s what I serve to my family regularly and I see it as a connecting dish. A bowl of pasta, family, and friends just goes together in my mind.
In this case, the friends just happened to be judges and about 1,000 very hungry attendees to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival!
I wanted to tell you more about the amazing chefs that competed in this event AND give you the winning recipe so you can try it at home! You can also find all of the recipes, which feature the Barilla Collezione line of pasta, here.
The Competing Chefs!
I got to spend some time with these chefs and let me just say that they are all worth keeping an eye on. They are all incredibly talented – I couldn’t believe that they were all younger than 35 – and if you have the opportunity to eat a plate of food they made, don’t pass it up!
Chef Silvia Barban is a chef and partner at LaRina Pastificio & Vino in New York. She was born and raised in Italy and was a contestant on season 14 of Bravo’s Top Chef. Her dish for the competition was Bucatini al Fumo, Limone e Acciughe. She actually smoked her pasta. It was wild.
Chef Ali LaRaia focuses on sustainable farming and winemaking in Sebastopol, CA. She also teaches pasta making classes in San Francisco (hint hint). Chef Ali made a dish called Cover Crop Casarecce with loads of fresh sprouts and herbs. It was like a bite of Spring. I loved it!
Chef Brandon Rosen is a private chef in San Francisco. He has worked at some very esteemed restaurants (French Laundry) and competed on season 16 of Bravo’s Top Chef. Chef Brandon made a dish called Ocean’s “Carbonara” that had scallops, caviar and no eggs! Crazy carbonara!
Chef Kelvin Fernandez is a chef and partner at Las’ Lap in New York. The dude actually beat Bobby Flay on Beat Bobby Flay, so there’s that. Chef Kelvin made a Wild Mushroom Black Truffle Bucatini and I literally did not know it was possible to put that many mushrooms in one dish. Plus, you know… truffles.
Chef Kayla Greer is a private chef in Los Angeles and caters to celebrities and professional athletes. Chef Kay made Orecchiette al Limone con Pistaccio. It has squash blossoms on it. Did I mention she had to make 500 plates?!
Chef Sean Turner is the Executive Chef at Louie on DeMun in St. Louis, MO. I never saw Chef Sean without his St. Louis hat on, so you know he loves where he is from. Chef Sean made a Bucatini Pistachio Pesto. It was probably the best pesto I’ve ever had.
Chef Angelina Bastidas is a private chef in Chicago. She was nominated as one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in Miami in 2014! Chef Angelina made a Crab Bucatini that I didn’t want to stop eating.
Chef Ryan Peters is a sous chef at Fish nor Fowl in Pittsburgh, PA. He works with pasta pretty much daily, so he knows his way around. Chef Ryan won runner up in the competition with his Bucatini alla Puttanesca!
Trust me when I say that the competition was stiff – I don’t think I could have chosen a winner had it been up to me. But it had to be done, and at the end of the competition Chef Sean Turner was selected to advance to the global competition. Chef Brandon Rosen was selected as the People’s Choice winner, which gets him an awesome trip to Paris in the fall to watch the competition (and chear on Sean!).
In my eyes, Chef Sean’s dish was so great because it was also very simple. Good ingredients. Great pasta. All cooked perfectly.
In fact, it’s so doable that you can make it at home! I did!
Chef Sean Turner’s Bucatini Pistachio Pesto
- Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain, reserving pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile, pulse lemon juice, herbs and shallots in food processor until almost a paste, scraping down side of bowl as needed. Add nuts, cheese and salt. Pulse until no whole nuts remain.
- With motor running, add oil in steady stream until well blended. Season with additional salt, if desired.
- Transfer pesto to large deep skillet. Add 1 oz. pasta water and pasta. Toss until well coated, adding additional water as needed.
- Top each serving with additional cheese and nuts.
Click the Show Directions button above to see the full directions for the recipe!