Though he’s known as the face of Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, Chef Mirko Paderno brought his Italian expertise to the mountains this week as part of the Viceroy Hotel Group’s chef exchange program. Paderno took over the Eight K restaurant kitchen for five nights, and taught a cooking class Saturday afternoon. The Milan native is known for fresh Italian cooking, and he had a few tips for those aspiring to follow in his footsteps:
1. For sauces like fresh pesto, use high-quality olive oil. Because it’s made of five simple ingredients–basil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic and oil–it’s important to have them all taste good. A fine olive oil can completely change the taste of the pesto. And remember, once you’re mixing the sauce with the pasta or gnocchi, don’t heat it for too long–this can change the chemical makeup and taste of the olive oil.
2. If you’re cooking several types of pasta, use the same water and cook the noodles in a strainer. Heat the starchiest first. So, if you’re cooking gnocchi followed by linguine, cook the gnocchi, and then the linguine. The starch from the potatoes boils off and creates a good water for the next type of noodle, giving it both flavor and structure.
3. Pair it all with complementary wine. A citrusy white can really add to a strong herbal sauce or pasta, and a robust red, like a Montepulciano can bring out flavors in a osso bucco ravioli that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Dining and cooking should be fun, and finding wines that work with the meal is all part of the process.