Behind the scenes on how we create new dishes with Louis Korovilas
The quick answer? We decide on the pasta shape and then what’s in season.
But admittedly, there are a few more important steps we take before arriving at the best pasta dishes in London. Read on …. as we interview our head chef, Louis Korovilas, to hear about the process from start to finish.
Louis, what’s your go-to for inspiration?
Personally, and similar to other chefs out there, I make sure I eat out to gather inspiration – it’s great to see what other places are up to. I also always revert back to the good old school books too – Artusi, Nino Bergese and the older Robuchon are classics. Using them as a simple guide for the foundation of dishes, I then mix things up. Luckily at Bancone, we are not confined by regions or traditions and as I am not a born and bred Italian myself, I have an eclectic approach to appreciating the solid principles of good French and Italian cooking. I can be creative and put my own spin on things.
So what’s the first step in thinking up a new dish?
My initial response is to decide on what pasta shape to use. With so many different variations out there to choose from, this can be a tricky starting point. We take into consideration the density, texture and shape of the pasta. Further down the process, this will dictate which type of sauce it will pair well alongside. It’s fairly straightforward but heavier sauces would need a thicker more dense pasta to get the balance just right. Take game for example – this would need something like pappardelle where the large flat noodles can take on the heaviness and richness of a game meat such as venison. A pasta that’s a little lighter like bucatini (similar to spaghetti) goes perfectly with brown shrimp.
If you’re looking for some shape inspiration, check out our ‘pasta series’ where we take a closer look at the hand-made variations that myself and the kitchen team make daily.
What’s next after you’ve decide on the pasta shape?
Next is the real fun part! We talk to our brilliant suppliers to see “what is flavour of the month”. We order in samples of everything that take our fancy and start experimenting with the produce. If you’re cooking at home, just head to your local butcher/fishmonger/grocers and ask what’s in season. They’ll happily help point you in the right direction of ingredients worth buying that’ll taste delicious and most likely, be cheaper than anything out of season. If you’re new to cooking with the seasons in mind, check out our blog from last month on just that. And, for inspiration on flavour pairings and what to experiment with, The Flavour Thesaurus is every chef’s bible – buy it, bookmark it and enjoy discovering what goes with what.
Who’s your ultimate taste tester?
At Bancone, we do a taste test with the whole team. From front of house to behind the pass, this is an important step in the process as I want to make sure we hear everyone’s opinion. I have a tendency to start with quite elaborate ideas for dishes but in the end, with the help of the team, it’s always stripped back. Yes, our dishes are all about big flavour and texture but simplicity is key.
It’s not often you’ll crack the perfect dish first off so change a few things here and there to see what works. If your dish needs more texture, add a nut. If you’re cooking with a fatty cut of meat, try adding sweet white wine vinegar for acidity to cut through the fat.
What’s been your favourite Bancone dish (if you can pick one!)?
Easy. It’s not on the menu anymore but primitivo, juniper & bay braised rabbit with pappardelle.