I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the Chief Marcello Zaccaria of the Academia Barilla (*) on his professional career. It intrigued me to know what his background was and how he got there. So he very kindly agreed to answer my questions.
Marcello Zaccaria, you are a chef at Academia Barilla, can you tell us about your professional background?
I graduated as a cook at the University of Catering in Massa Carrara, Tuscany (Italy). Passionate about cooking and pastry, I have worked in many restaurants in Italy and abroad, from Tuscany to Switzerland before joining the prestigious Academia Barilla* as Chef in 2001.
What does this work consist of?
I give cooking classes and participate in many gastronomic activities. In particular, I supervise the Gala Dinner and the Pasta Party. I also organize continuing education courses and am involved with the Research and Development teams.
It’s very varied!
Yes, I also collaborate with renowned Italian Chefs, recipe channels and also make appearances in various cooking shows.
Where does this taste for cooking come from?
The passion for cooking comes from my mother! She taught me the taste of good things.
How do you create your recipes? Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes mainly from the raw materials and seasonality. The different exchanges we can have within the Barilla group are also a real source of inspiration. With other Chefs, we like to share our culinary discoveries, tips and tricks and discuss new trends that we like.
Do you have any favorite ingredients and what can you find in your refrigerator?
If you open my refrigerator, the first ingredient you’ll see is vegetables !
What can’t you resist?
To a pasta dish with Borlotti beans !!! A typical Piedmontese recipe prepared with PDO beans that have a little taste of hazelnut ! A delight !!!
What is your best culinary memory?
Certainly my experience in Japan which remains an excellent memory.
What should you have tasted at least once in your life?
Without hesitating the Borlotti bean pasta !
What advice would you give us to make a successful pasta recipe?
The quality of the pastecooking and seasoning!
What is the difference between Barilla Classic Pasta and Barilla Academia Pasta? ?
The difference between Barilla pasta and Academia Barilla brand pasta lies in the manufacturing process. Academia Barilla pasta is made in a bronze mould, while classic pasta is moulded in a Teflon mould. The bronze casting will give the pasta a more pronounced roughness, which will allow it to better hang the sauce. Thanks to this manufacturing process, the dough will also be slightly thicker and more al dente.
In which cases should one be used instead of the other?
You can use both brands of pasta throughout the year and for all your recipes. You just need to know that Academia Barilla pasta is the ultimate pasta for the gourmet!
Would you be willing to share with us one of your favorite pasta recipes (with penne)?
Penne all arrabiata! (click for the recipe)
Thank you Marcello.
By clicking here, discover all my pasta recipes.
(*) The Academia Barilla is the first center dedicated to the development and promotion of Italian gastronomic culture in the world.