I’m Lynn and I’m a crafter, designer, baker, pasta maker and cook.
I’m a self-taught baker, confectioner, cook, bread maker and fresh artisan pasta. But, equally typically, you can find me covered in ink or paint as much as flour. I’m design-degree trained and work as a web/graphic designer and copywriter. There is little in food, arts or crafts that I can’t create by hand.
I’ve been cooking, baking and making bread and pasta for around 30 years now (starting in my late teens) and throughout have kept recipe ideas and sketches in notebooks. I have lots of my own recipes and a surprising amount of experience and expertise for someone who doesn’t make a living out of food (as yet). I have Italian heritage, the Italian side coming through my father’s family and my sister has traced our Italian line as far back as a birth in 1771 (so far) in Lucca, Toscana. This Italian side sparked a childhood obsession with the Romans, trying (still – I love languages, I’m not that great at them though) to learn the beautiful Italian language and obviously it led me to fresh pasta. I started making my own pasta in my teens and it’s just grown exponentially since then.
I was gifted from the family two Italian recipe recipe books that set me on my way: Ada Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking and Luigi Carnacina’s Great Italian Cooking. I also spent a lot of time pre-Internet in libraries scouring for Italian recipes and researching old photos and drawings of handmade pasta to copy the more unique shapes from. When fancy packs of coloured pasta started appearing in delis in the 90s (although spinach, tomato, beetroot and sepia were already common colours years before then) I’d buy a pack to learn the shape from and experiment with fruit and vegetable dyes. I still do this as new shapes and colours appear and I get excited about what products I find – for instance I recently found some oversized sombreroni in multi coloured stripes that inspired me:
Sadly I had no Nonna left alive to teach me so I had to research. And now if you want to learn it’s so much easier – the best resources are YouTube go search for something like “handmade pasta in Italy” or just watch the pastagrannies. Also if you want major colour inspiration go follow Salty Seattle on Instagram and the most perfect shaped pasta belongs to David Marcelli. And for the two ladies who literally wrote the books that brought pasta to Britain search out Anna Del Conte and Ursula Ferrigno (Ursula is also still teaching). And go search out a second hand copy of that Ada Boni book – it’s still excellent (actually so is the Carnacina one but I think you’d struggle to get a copy of that: the Ada Boni one has been republished many times and there are many second hand copies around).
I love continually learning so to extend my pasta knowledge a few years ago I started making my own tools – just like the pasta I thought if someone else can make this, then I can have a go (it helps I did a degree with a lot of carpentry and metal work skills in!). So far I have carved cavarola boards, gnocchetti boards, corzetti stamps, pasta wheels, made rolling pins, garganelli combs, various pasta drying racks, woven rattan baskets and I am currently half way through making a chitarra pasta cutter (which I have even worked out how to include a tightening mechanism).
I featured on Nadiya’s Family Favourites (BBC 2 episode three, 30th July 2018) regarding my pasta making.
View this post on Instagram
Making trofie – sorry the 'flick' is slightly off screen! I've slowed down how I make these so you can maybe see? I've published the second part of my article on pasta gadgets and equipment. The link to my blog is in my profile xxx #pasta #trofie #handmadepasta #food #foodie #foodstagram #homemadepasta
I have a passion for learning how to do new things and a desire to make anything by hand that I can, rather than just go buy it. This desire to ‘have a go’, coupled with all that I learnt at Art School and my 3D Design (Theatre) honour degree has given me the skills to: sew and pattern cut; embroider; crochet; knit; woodwork, including carving and turning wood; weave wicker work and basketry; work in leather, metal and plastics; sculpt; illustrate; build scale models; lino print; produce calligraphy; paint in oils, acrylic and watercolour; take DSLR photography and style for photographic shoots and many general crafts.
What I like cooking – and investigating
I enjoy food that allows me to be creative. Switching up ingredients, plating or arranging a dish differently, decorating, creating complex bread shapes, playing with coloured pasta and shapes, adding infographics or an illustration or even making my own tools or props.
The science of cooking also interests me. I’m no scientist and much is initially over my head, meaning it’s a challenge for me to comprehend each new area I read up on. It’s proving fun investigating and pushing my understanding as I go.
My food tastes
I am a complete Italophile and adore Italian food (see my notes above about my heritage). This manifests in making pasta, including artisan handmade shapes and flavoured, coloured pastas. I have been making pasta by hand now for 30 years (and almost all of that has been without a pasta machine!), but there is always plenty more to learn which is a complete joy.
Other cuisines I really admire and cook often are Thai, Mexican, Spanish, Indian (especially Southern Indian), Japanese and other Asian cuisines. I have been lucky enough to travel to Thailand, Mexico and Spain amongst this list, which has also influenced my tastes. I think really I pick up on the most flavourful, spice-laden national cuisines – I adore hot and spicy!
This does not mean I do not love my own home food – I think British food rather unfairly got a bad reputation because of the years of austerity and ‘making do’ during WWII and while rationing persisted afterwards. That’s some while ago and it’s perplexing why this is still a perpetuating myth. Britain a melting pot of good cooking with excellent produce (the UK is a bounty for home produced, reared and caught food) and the influence of many other cultures and cuisines. The current UK food scene must be one of the most dynamic and exciting in the world at the moment. I’m sorry for all those who continue to narrowmindedly sneer at it, as you are indeed missing out.
You can connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (and a few other social media sites – please see the menu bar above) as well as via this website. I love to interact with people (I’m a bit chatty) so please leave me a comment. Should you want to use a recipe, a photo, an illustration then please get in touch. I’m happy to discuss working with you (such as devising a recipe, illustration, developing a craft project or to collaborate).
Derbyshire~Nottinghamshire border, England
[Updated July 2018]