Pasta Guru Meryl Feinstein's Fresh Egg Pasta with Pesto Trapenese
First up in our Summer Pasta Series, we have the pasta queen herself, Meryl Feinstein. Meryl is a chef and pastaia who transitioned from the corporate world into the food industry in 2018. Meryl worked for James Beard Award-Winning chef Missy Robbins at both of her Brooklyn establishments, Lilia Ristorante and Misi, where she was part of the pasta production team. Meryl is also the founder of Pasta Social Club, a platform that brings people together through a shared love of pasta, learning, and building real connections both on- and offline. Read on for our interview with Meryl, and her incredible pesto pasta dish!
Her training as a pastaia began after spending time in Modena, Italy, and her dishes draw on influences from her travels, ongoing research into the rich history of traditional pasta-making, and increasingly her Jewish heritage, which is at the core of her love of eating, sharing, and laughing around a communal table.
Interview with Meryl Feinstein
What do you like to keep out on your kitchen countertop or "kitchen shelfie"?
Is it too obvious to say olive oil? I always have a few bottles on my countertop--for cooking and for finishing (hello, Brightland!). Other staples include (lots of) garlic, lemons, at least one tin of anchovies, and a huge jar of Calabrian chili peppers. I’m nuts for anything spicy; my husband got me the 1kg jar a couple of months ago, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m already scraping the bottom!What does living in a golden state meant to you?
Anytime I’m feeling uncomfortable with what I’m doing, I know I’m doing something right. Since leaving the corporate world last year, I’ve tried to continue taking as many risks as possible to keep growing both personally and professionally. As strange as it sounds, I feel completely at peace when I’m just a little bit scared!If you could host a dinner party at home and invite 3 guests, who would they be, what would you serve and what music would play in the background?
Oh gosh, this one’s hard. I’ll narrow it down to pasta-related guests. I’d definitely invite Vicky Bennison, the founder of Pasta Grannies, which I think is one of the most joyful platforms on the planet (check out their YouTube channel). Then probably Marc Vetri, Jody Williams and Rita Sodi… obviously Missy Robbins. Oh, and Ina Garten. Not pasta-focused, but just the queen of everything. And I wouldn’t want to cook FOR them, but WITH them. That’s the power of pasta--it’s a collaborative art!What is your favorite independent magazine to feel inspired by + learn from?
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not cool enough to read independent magazines. I tend to stick to cookbooks--is it too cliche at this point to say Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat continues to inspire me to trust my instincts and be more confident in the kitchen? I’m also in love with Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables (I don’t eat meat, but this is an essential bible for any cook!) and my constant bedside companion, the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita.What was your favorite thing that your mom/dad/grandparent cooked for you when you were little?
I’m not one of those cooks who came from generations of kitchen legends, but my mom made a KILLER tuna noodle casserole--I probably ate half a 9x13 pan of that stuff in one sitting (French’s fried onions on anything and I’m there!). My grandmother also made the best challah french toast. She would completely saturate the bread with eggs and milk and barely cook it, so it was essentially egg custard with a bit of bread and tons of syrup. Heaven!
For the Dough
For the Sauce