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BOOKSHELF: Chef presents Mastering Pasta

Apr 2nd, 2015 | Category: Community

MOUNT VERNON – James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Marc Vetri will share his culinary insights – and a few flavors of his Italian cuisine – at a book signing starting at 7 p.m. April 16 at the Washington State University Mount Vernon Research Center.

The event is free and open to the public, and part of a book tour celebrating Vetri’s recently released cookbook Mastering Pasta. Sample tastings will be provided, and representatives of Village Books will be on hand with copies of the book available for purchase.

During a recent visit to the WSU Mount Vernon Bread Lab, visiting chef Mark Vetri rolls out pasta made from a flavorful, high-yielding French wheat variety that thrives in the Skagit Valley. Photo by Kim Binczewski

During a recent visit to the WSU Mount Vernon Bread Lab, visiting chef Mark Vetri rolls out pasta made from a flavorful, high-yielding French wheat variety that thrives in the Skagit Valley. Photo by Kim Binczewski

The book features the art and practice of handmade pasta, gnocchi and risotto, and was researched over a 10-year period and written in collaboration with David Joachim. Its 261 pages of rich narrative and recipes are mixed with the photography of Ed Anderson.

“Vetri’s personal stories of travel and culinary discovery in Italy appear alongside his easy-to-follow, detailed explanations of how to make and enjoy fresh handmade pasta,” according to the publisher’s synopsis. “Whether you’re a home cook or a professional, you’ll learn how to make more than thirty different types of pasta dough, from versatile egg yolk dough, to extruded semolina dough, to a variety of flavored pastas – and form them into shapes both familiar and unique.”

Vetri has visited the WSU Mount Vernon Research Center several times within the past two years after hearing about the work being done in The Bread Lab with locally sourced and heritage wheat and grain varieties under Research Center Director Stephen Jones’ plant breeding program.

“I heard Dr. Jones speak at a seed conference at Stone Barns (in New York) just before I went to Italy for research for my new book,” Vetri said. “His presentation stuck in my head. While I was in Italy, everyone was talking about stone milling, fresh wheat and milling for flavor; so I emailed Dr. Jones from Italy and asked if I could come visit.”

Since then, The Bread Lab has continued to be an integral part of the equation for Vetri and his colleagues. “We use The Bread Lab for resources, knowledge, experiments and furthering our education,” he said.

Vetri paused when asked what he does differently as a result of his collaborations with The Bread Lab.

“That is a loaded question … everything, and it is ever evolving,” he said. “There is just so much to learn when you start to think of wheat not as a commodity but as an integral flavor and texture compound. When you understand it, it starts to become a game changer rather than just a white powder that helps you make things.”

Vetri said he hopes to broaden that understanding through his Vetri Foundation for Children, a non-profit organization aimed at helping kids experience the link between what they eat and their health.

While in Skagit County, Vetri plans to meet with La Conner School District Food Services Manager Georgia Johnson so that he can share some insights regarding his “Eatiquette” school lunch program, through which students are introduced to a variety of visually appealing and healthier foods in an interactive, family style eating experience.Mastering Pasta book color

“We just want kids to start realizing the connection between healthy eating and healthy living – and that it’s not only what you eat, but how you eat it, that makes a difference too,” Vetri said. “Sitting around a table, interacting and getting involved plays a major role in children’s development, as does a healthy diet with less processed food.”

More information about the WSU Mount Vernon Bread Lab is available at www.thebreadlab.org/. More information about the Vetri Foundation can be found at www.vetrifoundation.org/.

–Catherine McKenzie

 

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