The New York Diet

Chef Odette Fada Refuses to Eat Anyone Else’s Pasta

“I had a little taste of a foie gras cappuccino.”Photo: Melissa Hom
When she’s not commanding the kitchen of the venerable San Domenico, as she has done for over a decade, Odette Fada rummages for cheese, sausage, and foie gras in her fridge; goes for late-night dinners at Balthazar and Blue Ribbon; or stops in at her friends’ restaurants to enjoy off-the-menu items. Will you ever catch the Parmigiano Reggiano obsessive ordering pasta at one of these places? Probably not: “The only person here who can cook pasta,” she says, “is me!” We asked her what culinary pleasures she experienced this week.

Thursday, January 18
For lunch I had only a slice of bread because we had a good breakfast: tea, orange juice, and a French cake that looks like a panettone with almond and candied fruits inside. My husband is a chef at Payard; he brings home little things.

Wednesday, January 17
At the restaurant I had guest chefs from Il Bucco in Naples. For lunch I tried all their dishes: zucchini flower stuffed with ricotta on a bed of diced vegetables, drizzled with balsamic vinegar; a cannelloni stuffed with mozzarella and baccalà in a seafood sauce. And I tried some big-eye tuna crusted in herbs and orange zest with a red-wine reduction and a little salad. I also tried a Neapolitan dessert that’s upside-down cherry and cream tart with a cinnamon ice cream.

After midnight I joined my friend and my husband at Gnocco in the East Village and had a pizza margherita and pizza with Nutella.

Tuesday, January 16
For breakfast I had orange juice, tea, and a pain au lait. For lunch I had an apple. At dinner, I had pasta with my guys [at San Domenico] — fusilli with tomato sauce and salad.

Monday, January 15
I had lunch with Tony May, the owner, because I was away for vacation. Sometimes the cooks tend to not follow the instructions that I leave when I go away. So I had some pasta alla chitarra with tomato sauce to check if they kept the same quality. I also had some Sicilian gamberi (red prawns from Sicily) with cannellini beans and rosemary.

At 5 p.m., I ate with my staff; every now and then, I like to sit with all my guys and chitchat. It’s like being in Italy. We had some pasta with garlic oil and chile peppers and some steamed salmon and salad.

Sunday, January 14
My husband and I just came back from Tahiti, and we were very tired. I prepared some soup with vegetables from the fridge. We’d had so much exotic fruit and fish.

Saturday, January 13
In Tahiti we had a lot of fun trying different things. At the home of some friends, we had poisson cru; it’s a big dice of fish. They usually use red or white tuna and mix it with coconut milk or with ginger or cucumber. I had it both ways, and then I had some sashimi tuna. And I had a barramundi stew.

Friday, January 12
I was drinking a lot of different juices, from cocoa water to pineapple juice. I went to Café Koke, where they have French food the Tahitian way. I had as an appetizer half a lobster, the red-tuna tartar with ginger, and a piece of white-tuna sashimi. Then I had a little taste of a foie gras cappuccino. When I was in Tahiti, my friends wanted to take me to an Italian place; they said, “Maybe you miss Italian food.” I said, “No way!” —As told to Daniel Maurer

Chef Odette Fada Refuses to Eat Anyone Else’s Pasta