In a country where Statista reports nearly six billion pounds of pasta are consumed each year, National Pasta Month is a serious cause for celebration each October. Whether as a staple comfort food, traditional family-style recipe, or canvas for innovation, the countless varieties and creative possibilities for pasta make it a culinary mainstay.
Diners and chefs alike love pasta for its familiarity and ability to become a conduit for various fresh ingredients and flavor profiles, both near and far from its Italian origin. With 96 percent of operators reporting delays in supply in the last year, according to the National Restaurant Association, many chefs are turning to classic ingredients like pasta that are widely available and perennial crowd-pleasers.
For Michael Boyer, food and beverage development chef for Nordstrom Restaurant Group, there’s a reason he recently brought back a pasta dish that was once a beloved favorite among guests of the brand.
“Pasta is definitely a comfort food; it’s recognizable,” Boyer says. “Whether it’s a bolognese or a cacio e pepe, there’s that immediate recognition where the customer knows exactly what they’re going to get, and they’re immediately satisfied when it hits the table.”
This October, Nordstrom Cafes and in-store restaurants across the country are featuring Chicken Pasta Rossa, a smoked bacon, chicken, and mushroom-infused dish that highlights a key ingredient: Barilla® Al BronzoTM Fusilli pasta. Al Bronzo is a premium pasta that uses a custom blend of the highest quality semolina. Its textured surface, formed by bronze die micro-engravings, also grips sauce for a full-bodied, consistent taste.
Although Chicken Pasta Rossa has been missing from Nordstrom restaurant menus for years, its reappearance is part of Chef Boyer’s tradition of serving dishes each month that spotlight the brand’s core supply partners. The choice for October is intentional, featuring Barilla in an effort to show the diverse possibilities of the iconic pasta brand.
“It’s about telling the story,” says Chef Boyer. “Whether it’s shared company values or products, quality benefits to the community, or nutritional benefits. Those are really all the core pillars in terms of the story that we try to tell with every guest interaction, and our supply partners have been really great about helping us share that story.”
The restaurant group’s core suppliers have been especially important the past few years, when many restaurants struggled to count on even the most basic supply deliveries. A partnership with Barilla allowed Chef Boyer to continue serving customer favorites without sacrificing quality or creativity.
This consistency has inspired the restaurant group’s chefs to try out innovative recipes with traditional ingredients, like using Barilla’s Classic Spaghetti to create a sweet and spicy soy mushroom noodle dish. Launching alongside the Chicken Pasta Rossa, the cold noodle salad features a seasoned rice vinegar and ginger tamari vinaigrette with soy-roasted mushrooms, pickled carrots, and peanuts.
“There’s always a lot to consider any time we innovate new dishes,” Chef Boyer says. “The best thing about pasta is the recognition, and really just how it makes you feel at the end of the day.”
For more on tackling the trend, visit barillafs.com.