MATTHEW DRAZICK HALIP
WHERE: Los Angeles
My father has a brilliant ability to give advice, he’s like a superhero in that regard. Sometimes his words come in the form of an hours long conversation, other times it’s as simple as a single sentence. He’s not someone who criticizes when mistakes are made, or as he calls them “lemons.” He typically will just remind you that “It’s time to make some lemonade,” as in it’s time to turn things around and make the most out of the mistake.
When I was twenty years old, a sophomore at university, a particularly sour lemon landed in my lap: a $1,500 traffic ticket for speeding, amongst other violations… I remember sitting in my car, thinking “How am I going to pay for this?” As a young college student living on microwaveable meals, to say I had no way to pay for this ticket was an understatement, so I did what I had to and found a job at a local Italian Deli called “Giacomo’s,” which I was a regular at.
Day one I show up, fairly clueless, okay completely clueless, and an over-tanned, under-slept man welcomes me inside, “So you’re the new kid?” Giacomo asked, which I nodded to. “Great, do you know how to make pasta dough?” I pause to think. “I can certainly learn to make pasta, if that counts.” He shakes his head and grunts. “I’ll show you once then I have to leave and need ten pounds made.” He pulls out a long rolling pin, different from any I’d ever seen before, “This is a mattarello and you’re going to become very familiar with it.”
He was not joking… Little did I realize one of he most influential moments of my life was taking place right before my eyes, a simple kitchen tool that catalyzed a passion, an obsession, a love affair for making sfoglia. I was instantly hooked, mesmerized by the process of combining two ingredients, flour and egg, to create one of the world’s most beloved products.
Every morning I showed up at seven in the morning to make pasta and after four months had earned enough money to pay off the traffic ticket. Mission accomplished, right? I ended up staying with Giacomo for just under two years, not for the money, which of course was appreciated, but to wake up and go to my pasta room and feed an obsession born from a mistake. What a happy mistake that turned out to be.
Over the last sixteen years I’ve dedicated much of my free time to learning as much as possible about the Italian cuisine, specifically pasta making. I can’t help but reflect on the events that led me on this pursuit. The crazy twists and turns that transpired over the years to get me to Italy feels, in many ways, like fate, something I don’t take for granted.
To maestra, Stefania, and the various sfolini at La Vecchia Scuola that I had the pleasure to share this experience with: I thank you from the bottom of my heart and can’t wait to share the art of sfoglia for many years to come.
BOUT HIM THE TEACHER SAYS: