June 2, 2015 / 2:29 PM / 4 years ago

World Chefs: Jenn Louis shares love of Italian pasta in new book

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American chef Jenn Louis puts her own spin on 65 types of pasta and Italian dumplings such as gnocchi made from potatoes, cheeses and other ingredients in her first book “Pasta by Hand.”

Chef Jenn Louis is shown in this January 15, 2015 handout photo provided by Lincoln Restaurant in Portland, Oregon June 1, 2015. REUTERS/Lincoln

Louis made her mark with Lincoln, the restaurant she started seven years ago in Portland, Oregon, where hand-made pastas are made in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures.

The 43-year-old chef, who was born in Pomona, California, spoke to Reuters about her first bite of gnocchi in Italy, the food scene in Portland and what will be the next big culinary city in America.

Q: What can readers learn about pasta in your book?

A: Pasta is broken into five categories in Italy. Then there is a category called gnocchi, but in Italy people will tell you gnocchi is a specific thing. It’s potato or ricotta-based typically. The way I put it would be all gnocchi are dumplings but not all dumplings are gnocchi.

Q: What was your first memory of eating dumplings in Italy?

A: I had a great memory after college when I was backpacking in Europe by myself. I was in Siena. I didn’t have a lot of money. I found this little restaurant and no one was in it in the evening. I ordered potato gnocchi with basil pesto and I thought they were awesome.

Q: What are your tips for making them?

A: They should be fun and they don’t have to be perfect. A digital scale would give the best product and, of course, using good quality ingredients.

Q: Do you have to use 00 (highly refined) flour?

A: We really have a misunderstanding about 00 flour in this country. It’s about how finely ground the flour is. It doesn’t have to do anything with the amount of gluten in the flour.

Q: How do you think the Portland dining scene will evolve?

A: Portland is a real simple city. People who come from outside are usually surprised. We are focused on the quality of life in Portland. It’s very approachable, so I think we’ll continue to grow. We’ll see more creativity in the city.

Q: Which city will be the next Portland?

A: I love going to Miami. The food scene is more and more vibrant. There is a tremendous amount of young spirit and it’s just booming. There is a young community of passionate cooks and coffee roasters.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Paul Simao

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