Nonna can have the night off. Three of the nation’s hottest pasta masters are out to serve up a bowl of the best at Good Food Month’s Pasta Party.
By Carla Grossetti

Andreas Papadakis (Tipo 00 & Osteria Ilaria, Melbourne)

Three of Australia’s most talented pasta chefs, each from a different State, will come together on the evening of June 21 to share a kitchen – and produce a cracking Italian-centric dinner for Melbourne Good Food Month’s Pasta Party.

Andreas Papadakis (Tipo 00 & Osteria Ilaria, Melbourne), Mitch Orr (ACME, Sydney), and Joel Valvasori-Pereza (Lulu La Delizia, Perth) will be sharing their love of pasta and plating up the finest, knock-your-socks-off pasta for a three-course dinner, each course served with matching wine from Coonawarra winery, Brands Laira .

The three chefs will bring together old world knowledge, new world techniques, and a collective passion for everyone’s favourite cuisine.


Much much Orr

The young gun of the three chefs is Mitch Orr. He says he’s looking forward to cooking alongside Papadakis and Valvasori-Pereza, who share a more traditional approach to making pasta than he does. “I haven’t cooked with these guys before. Obviously I’ve been aware of them for quite a while, so it’ll be fun to cook together and see how they think about things,” says Orr.

While tradition is important for Orr, he says it isn’t everything. “There isn’t much of a common thread flavour-wise between us as the guys are a bit more traditional than I am” says the new-school chef Orr.

“What ties us together is our obsession for the quality of ingredients and those exacting pasta-making techniques,” says Orr.

Mitch Orr (ACME, Sydney)

And while the three chefs may all have different styles and influences, they are all committed to the excellence of pasta.”The secret to good pasta is time and effort. There are no shortcuts. I like the repetitiveness of the techniques and methods in making pasta. It appeals to my OCD. Everything has a system. We think about putting a pasta dish together differently to most because we are free to take inspiration from any cuisine and any flavour profile,” Orr says.

Orr will be cooking one of his favourite dishes for Pasta Party: Strozzapretti with Mexican chilli and tomato. “This dish hasn’t been on the menu for a while so it’ll be nice to bring it back for Melbourne. It’s a really simple dish but it has such depth of flavour. I really like dishes that are deceptive in that way,” Orr says.

Orr, the enfant terrible of modern pasta cooking says there’s a lot of influences at play that inform his approach in the ACME kitchen: seasonality, flavour, nostalgia, fun, taking the piss. “Inspiration can come from anywhere”.

“I like working with nostalgia and then [messing] with tradition. As long as it’s seasonal and tasty, it can work with pasta”.


Shape of things to come

Joel Valvasori-Pereza, head chef of hatted Perth restaurant Lulu La Delizia, will be serving guests a smoked garganelle dish. Valvasori-Pereza says the short rolled penne-shaped pasta is designed to catch the sauce, which has been pimped with Italian sausage, white wine, chilli, garlic and broccoli.

“The food at Lulu is a bit old-school, new-school. While it’s deeply rooted in Friulano heritage, it’s also what I call ‘immigrant food’. My Nonna has been living here since the 1950s and, growing up here, we had to adapt to Australian ingredients and be innovative in the kitchen,” he says.

“One of my most famous pastas is pig’s blood tagliolini served with king prawns, vermouth and ground fennel seed. As far as pastas go, it’s exciting to roll out as it’s crimson red and feels luxurious,” he says.

Valvasori-Pereza defines himself as a pasta-chef. “I wanted to make pasta my life. Being able to pull that off and build a successful restaurant has been a thrill. I love the discipline, the focus and concentration required to get pasta consistently right. It’s therapeutic” he says.

Joel Valvasori (Lulu La Delizia, Perth)


The homegrown hero
From the man who gave Tipo 00 & Osteria Ilaria their Chefs Hats, Melbourne pasta legend Andreas Papadakis says that what he loves about making pasta is creating a dish that starts from a place of utter simplicity – and transforms it to the height of luxury. Papadakis says his customers at Tipo 00 have come to expect ingenuity, with a smoked eel carbonara one of the most popular pastas to feature on his menu.

Papadakis is known for his dynamic flavours that aren’t weighted down by tradition. “Everyone loves pasta. I’m Greek and I’ve always loved pasta and even with my fine dining background in France, I always had a pasta dish on the menu.”

“People don’t come to my restaurant to have pasta they could eat at their Nonna’s. They come to my pasta bar to eat pasta that is modern, unexpected, elegant and clean,” says Papadakis.

New school, old school, no school; these three esteemed chefs are set to prove there are no rules when it comes to championing pasta. So give Nonna a kiss on the cheek, tell her she has the night off, and book a ticket to Pasta Party today.

Catch these three legends of cooking at Pasta Party, held on June 21 from 6.30pm-10pm at the Good Food Month pop up restaurant, Melbourne Palms – Fed Square Car Park Rooftop.

Get your tickets to Pasta Party here.