RED BANK: PERFECTING PASTA AT GAETANO’S

Gaetano's class 052014Tom Cappello, second from right, above, with sous chef Miner Barquero, right, and students during a recent cooking class. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

052014gaetanos pastaSchool’s in session at Gaetano’s Restaurant on Wallace Street in Red Bank, and owner Tom Cappello is clearly in charge.

Working a dining room with 15 guests and students gathered around a long table, Cappello and sous chef Miner Barquero demonstrate how to prepare a meal from scratch. Fresh pasta is always included in the menu, this month’s choice being fettucine.

Opening up the monthly class, Cappello mixes history and practical kitchen knowledge in a lighthearted way that puts everyone in attendance at ease, asking where everyone was from, and following up with a surprised, “there are a lot of men here tonight.” One man quipped that they heard there would be food there.

The appetizer came with a lesson on how asparagus grow and which size to choose to get the best results. Jumbo was the size selected for the prosciutto wrapped spears, covered with parmesan, baked and then drizzled with a balsamic glaze.

But it was the pasta-making though that got everyone involved. While Cappello explained the proper ratio of semolina to durum wheat, Barquero went hands-on with the group – mixing the dough, dividing it, giving all a feel for kneading, and then showing how to run it through the pasta machine.

The $50 class concluded, as each does, with a three-course dinner, and most in attendance brought a bottle of wine to enjoy. Questions on specific cooking techniques and portion amounts were answered while some wrote notes on the recipes supplied at the beginning of the class. Some of the guests were serious about adding to their culinary education while others had a more relaxed attitude.

On the syllabus for the June 24 adult cooking class: ravioli stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat.

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