’Cats Get Cookin’ with Rancho Llano Seco Marketing Director Lindsey Barrett
This is the third installment in our ‘Cats Get Cookin’ series and includes Barrett’s Fresh Pasta Dough recipe below, along with links to our two previous recipes—Lance Lew’s Chiao-tzu: New Year Dumplings and Debra Sims’ Ricotta Ñoquis.
Lindsey Barrett mostly cooks at will. By letting her curiosity, experience, and instincts lead the process, everything in and out of the kitchen mostly unfolds as it should, in its own time.
This approach has allowed Barrett (Journalism, Spanish, ’11) to explore life through her love of food and writing. So far, she has cooked in fine-dining restaurants, written for The Boston Globe, and even picked up a master’s degree in gastronomy. It has inspired her to travel to new places and continually find new ways to do something that has been a part of her life since childhood.
“I’m from a very food-driven family,” Barrett said. “Growing up, if we had parties or gatherings, we’d always start with what we’re cooking. It’s what we love to do.”
Barrett, who first dreamed of being a sportswriter while at Chico High School, didn’t have to look far to find her next step. “I chose Chico State because of the journalism program and was really excited to be able to participate in The Orion,” she said.
At the University’s award-winning publication, under Dave Waddell, Barrett cut her teeth in features before moving to sports, where she served as editor during her senior year.
“I really thought that was going to be like my whole professional route, but I always had this love of food and travel,” Barrett said.
With graduation came more opportunities to travel and connect with destinations in Europe and South America through food, which shifted her focus from sportswriting to all things culinary. To make this career move, Barrett figured she should probably know how to work in a restaurant kitchen.
Though she had nine years under her belt at Tea Bar & Fusion Café—a job she “loved”—she took an internship at Fifth Street Steakhouse (which led to a full-time job for the next 3 years) to learn to be a line cook and seriously consider going to culinary school.
“One of the pastry chefs at Fifth Street told me, ‘You’re never going to regret this internship or learning how to work in a kitchen because you’ll have that skill set forever. From now on, you can knock on a door in any restaurant and get a job somewhere in the kitchen.’”
She carried those words with her all the way to Boston, where a year later she pursued a master’s in gastronomy at Boston University. To bolster her education and help pay for graduate school, she worked at two fine dining restaurants, under mentors who taught her how to work and thrive in a busy, high-functioning kitchen.
“I feel like I was made for the restaurant environment,” she said. “I grew up in competitive sports and a house full of tough love. But I also had really great mentors and amazing experiences with people. I never had terrible kitchen screaming or an angry chef boss experience.”
After completing her MA, Barrett found herself wanting to jump back into writing, this time to talk about the food—where and how it’s grown, and what it means. Her search for job opportunities on the east coast didn’t yield much outside of the kitchen, which meant widening her search.
With a completely open mind, it was a marketing position on a family ranch just outside of Chico that caught her eye. True to form, her curiosity led the way back home at the right moment, to a role that combines a lifelong passion for food and writing at Rancho Llano Seco, where she leads the farm-to-table business’s marketing efforts to showcase its pasture-raised meat, beans, and grains.
“Northern California has such a booming food scene and I think that harkens back to people wanting to know where their food comes from and how it’s prepared,” Barrett said. “It feels really good to bring what I had studied to a company that really cares about the land, the crops, the animals, and what their practices mean.”
While she still misses cooking professionally, her new role allows her to connect with all aspects of the industry that has shaped much of her journey, and this includes creating opportunities to express herself in the kitchen.
“When I was in restaurants, I followed the recipes because you had to be consistent. But when I’m at home, cooking for myself or my family, it’s all by touch, feel, and what is in season,” Barrett said. “I really like open-ended cooking, you can go in any direction, which is very synonymous with the career path that I’m on and what I’ve done so far.”
*Fresh Pasta Dough
“Pasta has always been a love language to me. My family does have Italian heritage. My grandma was a big influence on cooking, my dad was definitely wanting to be in the kitchen at all times. And then I didn’t mean to, but I picked the route of following Italian chefs and Italian restaurants. And that’s where a lot of my knowledge is located. There’s so much versatility in pasta, and there are so many different shapes and sauces and flavors and so many different routes you can go and never really be bored of it.”
Prep Time: 45 minutes (plus 30 minutes of resting)
Cook Time: 4 minutes
- 2 cups 00 or all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 3 egg yolks, plus more as needed
- Semolina flour, for dusting
Mound the flour in a large mixing bowl. Dig a well in the center and add eggs and yolks. Beat the eggs and yolk together and begin to incorporate the flour.
Mix the dough using your fingers. If needed, add another egg yolk or a tablespoon of water to absorb all of the flour. When the dough comes together into a big ball, remove it from the bowl.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 4 to 5 more minutes. The dough should be smooth and uniform in color. Wrap in plastic and set aside for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly dust with semolina flour.
Cut off a quarter of the dough. Rewrap the rest. Use the heel of your hand to flatten into an oval approximately the same width as your pasta machine, about six inches. Set the rollers to their thickest setting and pass the dough through.
Lay the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board or countertop and neatly fold into halves—about the width of the pasta machine. Feed the pasta through again at the widest setting. Continue to fold the dough in thirds, until it is smooth, silky, and even-textured.
Begin to roll it out more thinly. Roll it once through each of the next two or three settings, adding flour as needed, until the dough is about ¼-inch thick.
Begin rolling it twice through each setting. As you roll, lightly sprinkle all-purpose or 00 flour on both sides of the pasta.
Roll out pasta until you can just see the outline of your hand when you hold it under a sheet, about 1/16-inch thick for noodles, or 1/32-inch thick for a filled pasta.
Cut pasta into sheets, about 12 to 14 inches long. Dust the sheets lightly with semolina flour and stack on one of the prepared baking sheets and cover with a clean, lightly dampened kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Recipe source: New York Times
Lance Lew’s Chiao-tzu: New Year Dumplings recipe