Prepare to embark on a gastronomic journey as we delve into the life and culinary expertise of chef Camelo Cipri, a well-known chef, business owner, and friend of C+G. With his undeniable passion for cooking, Cipri has crafted a delightful dining experience through his restaurants, Barbetta and Cipri Italian.
Since childhood, Camelo has been enamoured with cooking and food, a love deeply ingrained by his southern Italian family. Both of his restaurants have garnered acclaim for their delectable dishes and warm hospitality, with creations such as the spinach and ricotta ravioli with burnt butter recipe he’s shared exclusively with us below!
For those who have yet to experience the culinary delights of either restaurant, we recently had the pleasure of attending one of Camelo's pasta masterclasses at Barbetta. Here, we not only learned the art of crafting pasta dough from scratch, while also gaining insight into Cipri's journey into the world of cooking, but also got to chat to him about his inspirations and see him use our napery as he worked his magic. Such a treat on so many levels!
So, don your aprons, set the table with your finest C+G linens, and join us in exploring Camelo Cipri's culinary world through our conversation and exclusive recipe showcased below.
So, grab your C+G apron, pop on some tunes, and let's get cooking!
Recipe: Spinach and ricotta ravioli with burnt butter
BASIC PASTA DOUGH RECIPE
- 100g flour per person (plus extra flour for dusting)
- 1 large egg per person
- Mound the flour in a bowl or on your kitchen bench
- Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs
- Using a fork, beat the eggs together, then slowly start to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well
- As you mix, the well will expand. Keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape
- When half of the flour is used, the dough will begin to come together. Fold the dough in on itself a few times and then start to knead by hand on the bench for around 3 minutes
- Rub your hands together to clean your hands of all dried dough. The dough will still be a little sticky
- Place dough in a bowl and cover with a tea towel or table cloth to rest at room temperature for around 15 minutes before rolling out
- Cut dough in half and roll each half of the dough out on a floured bench (you can use a pasta dough machine or rolling pin), into a very thin sheet (about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick)
SPINACH & RICOTTA FILLING
- 300g ricotta
- 200g baby spinach
- 1 clove garlic
- 50g parmesan, grated
- Pinch grated nutmeg
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Pan fry spinach with oil and garlic
- Once cooked, strain well. Finely chop and allow to cool
- Combine all ingredients together. Mix well
- Set aside for ravioli assembly
HANDMADE RAVIOLI PREPARATION
- Place approx 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of spinach and ricotta mixture 1.5 inches apart all along the pasta dough sheets
- When the sheet of dough is covered with dots of filling mixture, lightly brush egg wash around the edge of each dot of filling mixture to help seal the raviolis
- Cover the filling-dotted sheet with the other sheet of dough
- Using your fingers, gently press the dough between each dot of filling to seal it
- Cut ravioli into squares with a (zig-zag edged) pastry cutter, or very sharp knife
- Allow ravioli to dry for one hour before cooking
- Gently drop ravioli into 6 litres of boiling, salted water and cook for about 8 minutes, or until dough is tender
- Save 150ml of pasta water, then carefully remove cooked ravioli from the pot with a skimmer or a large slotted spoon, and drain well
- Serve with Barbetta’s burnt butter and sage sauce (as per our recipe)
C+G: Tell us how you started in the world of restaurants and pasta classes?
CC: Having grown up in a first-generation Italian-Australian household, I was constantly exposed to authentic Italian food. Cooking was my grandparents’ and my mother’s favourite pastime. If they weren’t cooking meals, they were preserving or making salami and other smallgoods. I loved to get involved in all things ‘food’ and so followed in my mother’s footsteps to become a chef. I did my apprenticeship in the late 80s then worked and travelled throughout Italy where I immersed myself in the diverse regional cooking styles. We began the cooking classes because we wanted Barbetta to be more than a cafe, we wanted to immerse people in the Italian culture. Cooking and Italian language classes seemed like the perfect way to start.
C+G: Have you always had a love of cooking? Is this what made your decision to become a chef, then own some of Sydney’s finest Italian restaurants?
CC: As a young child I fantasised about being an astronaut or a pilot but in reality, my passion was always with food and cooking – well more the eating side of things. I just loved food, so I thought I should pursue a career in it. After 25 years I still love it and get excited when I’ve perfected a new dish. I set out to own and run restaurants with my two brothers and we opened up our fine dining restaurant, Cipri Italian 13 years ago. It proudly bears our family name. We also have Barbetta, which provides Paddington locals an everyday taste of Italy. You can stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner, for classic Italian food you can eat in or take away. It’s all fresh. It’s all homemade. It’s all inspired by the Cipri family’s love of Italian food and culture. There’s also fresh ready-made meals, gourmet imported Italian groceries, catering, pasta classes, cooking classes and Italian language classes.
C+G: Carlotta + Gee personally experienced the pasta making courses which you offer – we LOVED it – can you tell us what people can expect?
CC: Our pasta making classes are a lot of fun – you get the chance to make pasta from scratch. I give everyone a demonstration of how to make five to six different shapes, then everyone gets the chance to make their own. I then cook up the pasta we’ve made for everyone to sit down and enjoy a meal together, along with a glass of vino. The class is very interactive and informative. We also offer lasagna classes, risotto/arancini classes and Italian language classes.
C+G: Do you love entertaining? The Carlotta + Gee linen napkins and tablecloths from our new range make great additions to any table spread.
CC: We come from a big family and I enjoy nothing more than entertaining at home. Luckily I know how to cook, so it’s not stressful and it’s all about having fun. First step is to always open a bottle of wine and have it on hand when cooking. Second step is to set the table beautifully with tablecloths and napkins, just like the Carlotta & Gee ones. Coming together over good food and wine is what life’s all about.
C+G: What’s your favourite Italian dish to cook? Can you give us a sneak peek at your recipe?
CC: My favourite dish to cook and eat is spinach and ricotta ravioli with burnt butter and sage sauce. It’s a classic dish – simple and packed with flavours. It’s really what Italian cooking is all about. Check out the recipe below.