Modern consumers love authentic dining experiences that feature high-quality dishes. Serving up recipes with a well-established heritage is one way to put quality and tradition in the spotlight – whether it’s pizza or, as we’ll be exploring in this article, pasta.
The question is: is serving homemade pasta the only way to give customers what they crave? According to Chef Brown, authenticity can come in many forms. It simply depends on what your consumers value most.
What does authenticity mean in foodservice?
Chef Brown says there are 3 steps to providing an authentic dining experience: define, communicate, and deliver. First, define what authenticity and quality mean to you and your clients. Then, communicate what makes you authentic via your staff, menus, or social media. Finally, deliver on your promise.
Your restaurant’s authenticity may stem from making pasta in-house, or using premium high-quality ingredients. Many restaurants prefer to use pre-made pasta to save time and money: if you fall into this category, we have exactly what you need to create exceptional recipes! Get to know our Belvario dried pasta, made with locally-sourced grade A ingredients so you can serve up quality no matter what. Our tomato-based products are also the perfect foundation for a hearty, delicious family recipe!
How to cook up authentic pasta dishes?
It all starts with choosing the right dry pasta – a solid foundation makes for a solid dish. After cooking, you should never cool pasta off using cold water: that will wash away the surface starch, and starch is what makes the sauce and ingredients stick to the pasta! Instead, undercook the pasta by 1-2 minutes so it becomes perfectly al dente when you reheat it in boiling water before plating.
Next, focus on a combo of high-quality ingredients and simplicity, honouring the authenticity of the original recipe while adding your own unique twist. Here are a few examples to spark your creativity:
Spotlight your family traditions
Serve your nonna’s pasta sauce and make sure to tell the story behind it! People might not know the difference between a basic sauce and a truly authentic one that’s been perfected over generations. You can even sell the sauce by the jar if it’s a hit, or use it as a base for ready-to-heat meals like lasagna. It’s a great way to diversify your revenue and avoid waste.
Combine classic and experimental flavours
Add a touch of luxury or decadence to simple dishes by combining unexpected cheeses. In the spirit of authenticity, you could reach for an Italian cheese, mixing and matching different varieties to create complex texture and flavour combos. Looking for an interesting idea? Create a balanced sauce made of a subtle cheese like Ricotta, and a sharp one like Grana Padano. Add lemon zest and fresh basil, and you have a simple yet delicious dish.
Make it unique with a secret ingredient
Keep customers coming back for more by adding a “secret touch” to classic sauces, like adding Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rinds to your sauce as it simmers for a savoury kick, or grating Grana Padano cheese into your cream-based sauces to give them a different body and texture.
Should you start making homemade pasta?
Now that you have some authentic pasta dish inspiration, you might be wondering if making fresh pasta in-house is the right approach for your restaurant.
Making pasta looks simple – it’s only flour and eggs, after all. In reality, though, there is a whole process behind it: equipment to buy, staff to train, recipes to develop. For Chef Brown, consistency poses a potential issue here. If you have high staff turnover, your pasta might not come out the same every time, and you would need to spend lots of time training new people.
When trying something new, Chef Brown recommends adopting the “fail fast, fail cheap” approach. That could mean serving homemade pasta just one day per week on a slower night, as a menu special. If it doesn’t work, you will find that out quickly, and cut your losses before investing too much.
For any changes that affect your business model (like making fresh pasta), you should set performance indicators to make sure the time and resource investment is worth it. If you can barely break even, it might not be the right thing for you, and you can explore other ways to cook authentically instead.
Whether or not you make your own pasta, authenticity lies in the quality of your ingredients (like great cheeses), the care you put into your dishes, and the way you market them to your customers.
For more insights, subscribe to our newsletter!