Cookbook author Marcella Hazan, considered by many the Julia Child of Italian cooking, died September 29 at age 89. The New York Times asked readers to share their favorite recipes, and 277 people replied. National culinary stars like Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich weighed in on her influence as well. We asked some Seattle chefs who cook Italian food how Hazan affected them.
Stuart Lane, chef de cuisine at Spinasse: “I have two of her cookbooks, and I still return frequently to The Essentials of Italian Cooking. It has such a complete list of Italian dishes from all over. I wish people would read her books more. Last week, we featured a dish of hers at Spinasse: her tomato sauce, with just tomatoes, raw onion, and butter served with her potato gnocchi, made with only potatoes and flour (no egg). This dish is so emblematic of her; it really boils down a dish to its simplest ingredients. And her description of making pasta with a rolling pin is the best there is. It’s 100 percent accurate. Her technique of rolling the dough on a pin . . . when I went to Italy in 2005, that was exactly how I learned to make it.”
Mike Easton, chef/owner at Il Corvo Pasta: “The Essentials of Italian Cooking was one of my first-ever Italian cookbooks. Every Italian chef has her books. The first chapter alone is a must-read for anyone trying to cook Italian. It truly outlines what the key ingredients are, why the Italians love them, and how to use them.”
Rudy LaValle, owner of Tinello: “She’s the person I look to for the way I do things, for the simplicity. She shows that it doesn’t take a lot of things to make a fabulous dish. She’s a touchstone in the sense that she wasn’t just someone trying to be creative. She cooked the dishes, did the research, and understood the heart and soul of what Italian cooking is all about.”