Basta Pasta

By Phyllis Odessey
I love fresh pasta.  There was a time when I made it everyday and I was not even living in Italy.  Fresh pasta is an addiction.  Once you taste the real thing, you can’t go back to the supermakert shelf.

Matt and kids rolling out the pasta

There are just a few ingredients (eggs, flour, water) in pasta, but the most important thing about learning to make pasta is having a great teacher. Yesterday we had one.
His name is Matt Rudofker,  Chef de Cuisine at Momofuku Ssam Bar, part of the Momofuku restaurant group.  Halle Heyman, Dean Hoebbel and Maevid Bowman from Momofuku also came to work with the kids and give Matt a hand.

The Fifth and Sixth graders from PS 62 had a special treat on Wednesday.  Making pasta and pesto with Matt and creating a delicious dressing for a salad of  greens they picked  in the garden.

It’s rare that we have a professional chef at The Learning Garden.  It’s always a great pleasure to watch someone like Matt work.  He is so expert at what he does and he seems unflappable.  With no kitchen, just a couple of folding tables, a hand-cranked pasta machine, one pot of boiling water, Matt was able to instruct and involve the kids in the process of converting flour, eggs and water into dough.

Enjoying the fruits of their labors

This takes enormous patience and skill when 40 kids are mixing ingredients,  kneading dough, turning the handle on the pasta machine and ultimately waiting to enjoy a snack.

Fresh Pasta is a miracle.    Matt was able to convey  that creating  incredible food is partly an art, but it’s also possible to cook a delicious , healthy meal in a short amount of time using simple ingredients.

Matt and the rest of the crew from Momofuku inspired  us to go home and  give it a go!

 matthew “rudy” rudofker
chef de cuisine
momofuku ssäm bar

matthew, originally from philadelphia, became interested in food and cooking at a young age. matt’s first kitchen experience was at philly’s acclaimed vetri restaurant. in 2005, matt moved to new york and worked for some of new yorks best young chefs, first at oceana under cornelius gallagher followed by two years at cru under shea gallante. at daniel, he was part of the team that earned both four ny times stars and 3 michelin stars. he also had the opportunity to complete a stage at the fat duck restaurant in england. he now joins the team at ssäm bar looking to continually grow and contribute.

halle heyman
team papercut

halle heyman hails from ohio, where she grew up under the notion that cooking occurred in a microwave. realizing ingredients have provenance, she spent time farming in berkshire county,  while working with the mezze restaurant group.


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