Chicago’s Terzo Piano Chef di Cucina Carolina Diaz has another title to add to her résumé: U.S. Master of Pasta.
In a pasta-themed showdown hosted by renowned pasta company Barilla, Carolina beat out chefs Brian Lavin of Gnoccho (Baltimore), Chris Requena of Wexler’s Deli (Santa Monica, CA), and Mattia Marcelli of Delarosa (San Francisco) for the title of U.S. Master of Pasta. The winner has the opportunity to travel to Italy and represent the United States this fall in Milan to compete for the title of World Pasta Master.
Carolina arrived at CBS Studios’ Culinary Kitchen in Chicago ready to cook. Each competitor created one pasta dish for the judges panel, comprising Barilla Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni, Chicago’s Check, Please! television host Catherine De Orio, food blogger Eva Kosmas Flores, chef and Top Chef season 15 contestant Bruce Kalman, and project manager for youth wellness organization Big Green Sam Koentop.
While the chefs were cooking, Chef Boni shared pasta-cooking tips for the crowd, like waiting to boil the pasta until after the sauce is finished to ensure the freshest taste. Final dishes included Chef Requena’s angel-hair pasta with dill and tonnato sauce (made with tuna, anchovies, lemon juice, olive oil, and egg yolks), Chef Marcelli’s spaghetti with sea urchin and fava beans, and Chef Lavin’s rigatoni with tomato-braised calamari, mint, and spicy breadcrumbs. Carolina’s winning dish, mezzi rigatoni with fresh tuna, roasted red-pepper sauce, gremolata, and bottarga (salted, cured fish roe), stood out among the others for its fresh flavors and bright presentation.
“We are so proud of Carolina!” said Terzo Piano Chef-Partner Tony Mantuano, who added that coincidently, “Carolina cooked a version of the same dish that convinced us to hire her.”
“The competition was so exciting because everyone knows Barilla and grew up with the blue box,” said Carolina, who grew up outside of Chicago. “I wanted to make a dish that reminded me of my childhood and aligned with our values, to keep it seasonal and simple. When I compete in Milan, I want to make sure I remember our mission at Bon Appétit and bring home the win not just for myself and my team but for all of the chefs in the U.S. who are working towards a better and more sustainable culinary future.”