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Meet Leah Ferrazzani of Semolina Artisanal Pasta in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leah Ferrazzani.

Leah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Before starting Semolina, I worked as a food and wine writer. Through my writing I explored my passion for local and seasonal food, profiling farmers, fisherman and chefs working in service of great ingredients. Oh, and I wrote a lot about wine. It was a natural fit, really, blending my experiences managing and working in the restaurants and wineries of some of the country’s most acclaimed chefs and winemakers (Nancy Silverton at Pizzeria Mozza, David Lentz at the Hungry Cat, David Waltuck at New York’s Le Zinc and Pax Mahle at Pax Wine Cellars, among others) and my background in Creative Writing and Journalism.

Eventually, though, I got tired of talking about the people making and growing great food. I wanted to be one of them. So in October 2014 I launched Semolina Artisanal Pasta. Initially I operated out of my home kitchen in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, converting my laundry room into a makeshift pasta dryer using some consumer electronics and a lot of moxie. Most recently, I opened a retail shop and pasta lab in Pasadena’s Lincoln Corridor. And I’m just starting to collaborate with those same farmers and chefs to help build upon the strong local food scene in Los Angeles.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road has definitely not been easy. The industry is stacked against small, self-funded businesses, and added to that, I’ve had to change people’s mind about a product that they think they really know and have been using for years. Dried pasta should really have more flavor than what we’ve traditionally been given.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Semolina Artisanal Pasta – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We don’t take any shortcuts! At Semolina we employ traditional Italian methods to make flavorful pasta. This means:

We use the finest certified organic Durum Semolina grown in the U.S. I don’t cut with any finer grinds of flour, because Semolina is so important to the texture of the pasta.

We work in small batches, extruding all of our shapes through bronze dies, rather than the Teflon ones favored by larger commercial pasta companies, giving the pastas a rough exterior texture that holds sauces perfectly.

We dry all our pastas slowly, at low temperatures, to preserve the natural flavor of the wheat. It takes about 20 hours to dry a single batch of pasta!

We focus on making classic shapes that are extremely versatile, because we want our pastas to be approachable.

Last, we’re plant-based! All of the pasta is currently made in a 100% egg, nut, dairy, and shellfish free kitchen. (Contains wheat and gluten.)

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
What I like best about our city is our diversity. It makes the city a living, breathing thing, that’s like a microcosm for the whole of the world. You can encounter nearly every culture or perspective, which helps keep you open to the richness of humanity.

What I like least about our city is the traffic. I know it’s cliché, but I wish it was easier to get around on our public transit.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mike Medoway, Jules Exum

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