Back in the day, if you knew the best recipe to make your own Jamaican jerk chicken, Polish pierogis or Creole red beans and rice, it was because your grandmother taught you.
However, thanks to the exploding popularity of the Food Network, food knowledge isn’t limited to family history — which has led for a search for cooking knowledge like never before.
“We are so surrounded and saturated with food and we always want to know more,” said chef Kevin Knevals, of Raritan Borough, who has worked at Osteria Morini, a northern Italian restaurant in Bernardsville, for five years (since it opened) and with the Altamarea Group, which owns the restaurant, for nine years. “People are not just wanting to cook — they want to cook great things and get involved in the process.”
It was because of this demand of knowledge that Osteria Morini began offering pasta making classes led by Knevals about one year ago. The restaurant that had been housed in the space before it — Due Terre — held the popular classes, and after the restaurant was replaced with Osteria Morini, guests continue to come in and ask for them.
Since that time, the classes have moved from family-oriented Saturday morning sessions to every other Thursday night one-hour classes starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a three-course sit-down meal from 7:30 to 9 p.m. for $83 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. Guests are welcome to bring their own wine, and no corkage fee applies.
The upcoming classes for this season will be Nov. 3, 17 and Dec. 3 and 15, which will feature mezzaluna, garganelli and gnocchi. The classes, which each host 16 people in an intimate environment, usually sell out, so early reservations at osteriamorini.com/new-jersey/events are recommended.
The class starts out with meats, cheeses and prosecco for guests to snack on. Then, guests make the dough for three pastas, let it rest, mold it into as many as four or five shapes “to expose guests to as many as possible,” said Knevals, and then they prepare it to take home.
The two pastas they eat at dinner are made by Knevals during the class so guests have what they made themselves to enjoy later. Then, the dinner finishes with bomboloni, or Italian doughnuts.
Although the format of the classes has basically stayed the same, Knevals said that he is constantly changing the pastas offered to keep the classes new and fresh. Plus, the sit-down dinner is one aspect that also keeps Osteria Morini’s classes different from other cooking classes — many similar activities don’t finalize with a formal dinner.
“I think we have the best pasta in New Jersey and we take a lot of pride in what we do,” he said. “There’s a lot of experience between Chef Michael White and myself and a lot of knowledge involved and that shows in the product that the guests make.”
Osteria Morini, which has an open kitchen style, was first introduced to Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in 2010 and then opened another location in Due Terre’s place at 107 Morristown Road in February 2011. Executive Chef Bill Dorrler oversees the kitchen operations at Osteria Morini ,which is led daily by Knevals.
Osteria Morini’s pasta-making classes
Where: 107 Morristown Road in Bernardsville at Osteria Morini restaurant
When: Nov. 3, 17 and Dec. 3 and 15 (this season) starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a three course meal from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $83, which includes tax and gratuity
Contact: 908-221-0040 or osteriamorini.com