Oldani and Benno: spaghetti connection

In Chicago the two chefs explore pasta starting from two classics, cartoccio and carbonara. And they get very far

Davide Oldani of D’O in Cornaredo and New Yor

Davide Oldani of D’O in Cornaredo and New Yorker Jonathan Benno, soon at the helm of Benno, on the 27th, in front of Eataly Chicago (photo Brambilla/Serrani)

After breaking the ice with pizzaIdentità Chicago strengthened day 1 of the fourth edition with a lesson on pasta, filtered by the thoughts of the two chefs who interpret tradition in a very personal way.

Davide Oldani is the prophet of Pop cuisine, «which doesn’t refer to my moderate prices», the chef from  D’O in Cornaredo immediately points out, «but to seasonal ingredients, a concept I acquired from my mother, who already conceived cooking this way». This thought leads the kitchens of his two recently opened restaurants too, Foo’d at the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall in Singapore and inside the Shangri-La Hotel at the Fort in Manila, Philippines.

The pack of Felicetti spaghetti the chef opened with just one blow on the table brings us back to our theme. «The idea for this recipe comes from the Eighties», starts Oldani in impeccable English. «I was cooking in Milan then and people thought you opened a restaurant to make money and not to make good food. There was much more risotto because pasta was something from the South. Cartoccio, cooking all sorts of things wrapped in foil – meat, fish, vegetables – was very popular... Today I present my new take on pasta in cartoccio»

Cartoccio di Davide Oldani

Cartoccio di Davide Oldani

So he starts to cook. «Let’s put lots of water in a large pot, with a touch of salt. We dip the spaghetti completely and cook for 7 and a half minutes, less than what stated on the pack. This is because I like spaghetti cooked as the string of a violin, much closer to al dente than to well done».

In a separate casserole, he cooks the sauce: «Let’s warm up some strong-flavoured Grana Padano 24/27 months. We whisk it away from the stove. We add grated horseradish, lemon zest and powdered coffee».

Once the seven minutes are over, he drains the pasta and puts it on a cold plate. A touch of olive oil and then he warms it with a hair-dryer. We pours the spaghetti in the sauce, adds some more lemon zest, some slightly spicy horseradish («an idea inspired by Apulian orecchiette»), black pepper, her rolls it as a nest on the side of the plate. In the middle he puts the sauce, adds black pepper, lemon zest, some more horseradish, Grana Padano and powdered coffee. He covers it all in edible foil and voilà here’s the cartoccio.

Spaghettoni croquette with carbonara sauce by Jonathan Benno

Spaghettoni croquette with carbonara sauce by Jonathan Benno

The audience gets mezze maniche, easier to handle. «Next to the dish I also add a spoon so people can collect any sauce left».

Right after him, it’s time for Jonathan Benno, an old acquaintance of Identità New York, with grandparents from southern Italy. He left famous new modern Italian cuisine restaurant Lincoln, opened in September 2011 at the Lincoln Center in Upper West and is about to open Benno, on the 27th, close to Eataly. «The restaurant will have a double soul, fine dining and more casual».

Benno made Spaghettoni croquette with carbonara sauce, «A nibble», he explains, «a first course that became a snack». It’s like a mini-supplì with spaghettoni cooked and mixed with egg, béchamel and pancetta. He puts the blocks in a silicon mould, then into a freezer for 15/20 minutes. He later pulls them out, rolls them in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Then he fries and serves them.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Monograno Felicetti


Gabriele Zanatta

born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes. 
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