Q & A with Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni of Barilla America
“We have an obsession for quality. We put a lot of pride in our product. Great color, great al dente texture, great flavor; which, at the end of the day, is the most important aspect in any great food.”— Chef Lorenzo Boni
By Vicki Martinez
Born and raised in Bologna, Italy, Chef Lorenzo Boni grew up surrounded by a family of passionate foodies. That passion inspired him to pursue a career as a professional chef. Following culinary school, Boni traveled around Italy training with several of the top-rated chefs in the country “to learn the best culinary techniques from the best chefs of Italy,” says Boni. Now, as Executive Chef of Barilla America, Boni brings his training, knowledge and passion to the tables of home chefs across America.
We caught up with Chef Lorenzo to find out what’s cookin’.
How does the phrase “cooking is an art” resonate with your philosophy on Italian cuisine?
I see pasta as a blank canvas. You can approach it in all sorts of ways. There are so many ingredients to choose from that the combinations you can create are endless. Just as in music, how there are seven notes creating an infinite number of songs.
Where do you get your inspiration for new and creative pasta dishes?
Most of the time my inspiration comes from the seasons. I go to the market and look at the fresh, seasonal ingredients available and create new recipes based on flavor pairings. In-season ingredients are ripe and fresh. They offer the best flavors. (And the best prices.)
Italian food and family style are almost synonymous. What’s your favorite dish to prepare for a large group?
Lasagna is the perfect dish for those types of occasions. It’s a hearty, filling meal that is simple to make (especially using no-boil Barilla lasagna noodles that also come in a gluten-free variety, which do not require any boiling. Simply assemble and bake!) You can refrigerate it overnight, uncooked of course, and as it sits, the flavors develop. When it comes time for dinner, you put it in the oven; then you can spend time at the table with family and guests instead of cooking in the kitchen.
What staples are always in your pantry at home?
Garlic, quality extra-virgin olive oil, black pepper, aromatic herbs, an assortment of legumes, fresh tomatoes (when they’re in season), and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I also love Romano cheese, and typically have fresh produce on hand.
What do you say to the home cook who is afraid to venture past spaghetti and meatballs?
At Barilla, together with our nutritionists and culinary department, we’ve created a tool that we call Pasta Recipe Builders. It’s a mix-and-match chart where you can create your own pasta dishes simply by choosing your favorite ingredients in 7 simple steps. And you’ll find that each dish is under 500 calories per serving. It’s a great tool to help people that don’t have the creativity or knowledge to create different recipes.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, make sure to check out the gorgeous dishes Chef Lorenzo posts on Instagram (@cheflorenzoboni).