Udon Carbonara at Cafe Saint-Ex
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
A good pasta carbonara separates the strong from the weak, the great from the average. Master that dish and you can certainly wow some dinner guests. The carbonara from Café Saint-Ex’s executive chef, Billy Klein, uses udon noodles and fresh pea shoots for a slightly different spin. The result? A pasta dish that remains light and fresh, even with a creamy sauce.
I can’t make any guarantees that yours will turn out as good as it does at Café Saint-Ex, so if I were you I’d head there first to check out the original with what was the best pork belly I’ve ever had (not an exaggeration)—crisp on the outside and not a bit of grizzly fat on the inside. And while you’re there the rest of this month, check out some of Billy’s creations for National Grilled Cheese month (read: grilled cheese on “potato bread”–gooey cheddar cheese and bacon in between slices of potatoes or the brioche encrusted with Fruity Pebbles and melted brie inside).
The full recipe, broken down by parts (roll up your sleeves and get ready for a little challenge!), is after the jump.
Chef Billy Klein of Cafe Saint-Ex
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
There’s something refreshing about a direct answer to a question these days. A simple statement that gets to the root of what you’re asking, that needs no follow-up question, leaves no confusion or wiggle room for ambiguity. And when I asked Billy Klein why he became a chef, I got a succinct, straightforward answer: “I love food. I love people. I love being artistic.”
The executive chef of Café Saint-Ex elaborates: “With cooking, there are no limits, no boundaries.” Growing up, Klein says that family meals were “always a big deal” in his household. Years later, that thread now carries over into his job as a chef where he says he loves bringing people together and that he enjoys making food that’s not “too cerebral—so that people don’t forget who they’re with.” Klein reminds you that yes, a meal is about the food, but it’s also about the experience and the people you share it with.
So unsurprisingly, after chatting with Klein it’s easy to see that he’s the type of down-to-earth person you’d not only want cooking your food, but that you’d also want to share said food with. He’s level-headed—which is not to say that he’s some vanilla shade of boring—you’ll see the flashes of badassery in tattoos peeking out from his shirt sleeves or when he and a few kitchen crew members slam a shot of whiskey before wrapping up a Saturday night shift. But for example, Klein explains that achieving balance in life is important as a chef. “I love what I do and I work my ass off. But you need balance in your life,” he says. “Being a successful chef is a sacrifice. You have to put in the work, the time and the training.” Part of that life balance is knowing that a chef can’t be at a restaurant all the time, obsessing over every detail and watching their kitchen staff like a hawk. Klein emphasizes that part of a chef’s job is teaching and trusting staff to turn out dishes that are as close to the original version from the chef.