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Our chefs’ favourite pasta sauces

Our chefs’ favourite pasta sauces

by Great British Chefs 15 February 2018

What do some of the UK’s most accomplished chefs like to dress their pasta with? We asked seven of them to find out.

No matter what sort of food a professional chef cooks, there’s a good chance that they enjoy a bowl of pasta. It’s incredibly hard to find someone who doesn’t like the Italian staple, and it’s certainly one of the most universally loved foods in existence.

While many pastas (although certainly not all) only differ in terms of their shape, it’s the accompanying sauce that allows a cook to express themselves. Rich, meaty ragù, light and creamy seafood sauces or a simple dressing of cheese and olive oil are all equally well-matched to a bowl of pasta. While there are certain guidelines as to which pasta shapes go with particular sauces, the UK’s top chefs enjoy a mix of classic and contemporary recipes when preparing the dish at home. Take a look at what they like to prepare and see if they match up with your favourite pasta sauces.

Robin Gill

‘My favourite is spaghetti Nerano – a rich sauce made with fried courgettes, butter, Parmesan and Amalfi lemon,’ says Robin. ‘The dish was created in Nerano in a restaurant called Maria Grazia right on the beach along the Amalfi coast. It’s where I spent my days off when I worked in that part of the world, and it’s where I took a group of friends along on my honeymoon (we nicknamed it honeymoon pasta). It’s ridiculously tasty and reminds me of that special place.’

Paul Welburn

Paul respects the classics, but puts his own seasonal twist on his favourite sauce. ‘A ragù made from venison instead of beef is a contemporary favourite of mine,’ he says. ‘I love a good beef ragù but the use of game adds a more seasonal touch to the classic dish.’

Adam Byatt

Adam loves the simple combination of cheese, cracked black pepper and pasta cooking water, which when done right results in one of the simplest pasta sauces in existence. ‘Cacio e pepe,’ he says. ‘Its genius is its simplicity.’

Tom Brown

Tom opts for pesto, that beautifully vibrant sauce from Liguria. To truly appreciate this herby, cheesy, nutty dish, however, it needs to be made from scratch at home using fresh ingredients. ‘My favourite is probably pesto – I love the freshness of basil along with the rich Parmesan and pine nuts.’

Russell Brown

‘For pasta I would say carbonara, but it is a tough choice!’ says Russell. ‘I just love the simplicity of a proper carbonara; the emulsion of egg, cheese and the pasta water produces something rich and silky that perfectly coats the pasta and the little nuggets of pancetta or guanciale add texture and another depth of flavour. I also think the dish combines three things that really symbolise Italy for me. Life would be much less satisfying without pasta, Italian cheese and charcuterie!’

Paul Foster

‘In terms of contemporary cooking I like to finish my potato agnolotti in a roast chicken sauce which is enhanced with a smoked garlic gastrique before serving,’ explains Paul. ‘In terms of something more classical, however, I like to finish linguine with salted butter, Parmesan, lemon rind and a splash of the pasta cooking water, then some freshly chopped parsley, chervil and tarragon.’

Pascal Aussignac

Pascal creates a wonderfully rich and comforting sauce for his pasta. ‘I love my pasta with a stew of wild mushrooms, vermouth and a touch of cream and garlic.’

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