make pasta from scratch bistro franquette montreal recipe

How I learned to make pasta from scratch at Bistro la Franquette

Chef Louie Deligianis shares his personal recipe and pasta-making skills, insisting that “anyone can do it.”

Ever since I discovered the wonders of homemade aioli (why would I mayonnaise ever again?), I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for starting things from scratch.

Not a pro-chef myself, I am lucky enough to have friends in the industry who I can pester for advice. So, sitting at the corner of our beloved Grumpys Bar, I asked chef Louie Deligianis (the culinary brains behind my favourite Montreal restaurant, Bistro la Franquette), “What’s the deal with pasta from scratch?” I asked this question as if it were a challenge, and clarified, “Is it difficult?” Louie dismissed this immediately with a shake of his head. Lifting off his cap, and running his hands through his hair (classic Louie), he said, “Anyone can do it.” 

Okay, so if “anyone” can do it, I can,” I concluded. I’m right up there in the “anyone” category. “How?” I annoyingly persisted. (I don’t know why, given I’ve binged Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix on numerous occasions, and considering I fall asleep most nights watching food Instagram videos, I obviously know how. You take a bunch of flour, make a little well, dump a bunch of eggs etc.

Louie shrugged and suggested I come by the restaurant so he could show me sometime. I said, “Really??” because, again, annoying. He blinked. “You want me to make pasta at Bistro la Franquette?” I asked again. He blinked again. “I want you to want to make pasta.” 

Soon after that conversation, Louie graciously carved 45 minutes out of his busy day for us to do the thing. I wanted to make him proud. I wanted to make the pasta! With this, however, came the combined anxiety and thrill of being handed an official apron and being guided into the kitchen where the magic happens. The poor staff looked at me with confusion and skepticism, and I nervously confirmed, “I’m not new! Louie’s just helping me!” They nodded in realization, and proceeded to laugh both with and at me — including an employee who was literally from Italy. Anxiety, again.

We start weighing the dough, and Louie hands me all the eggs. He asks me if I know how to crack an egg, and you know, I cook often at home, so I say, “Well yeah, of course.” After a few cracks, he says, “Yeah, no, you don’t. You crack at the edge of the table, never on the table itself. That’s how it breaks.” Oops. Then he asks if I can separate whites from yolks, and at this point, I start to realize maybe the safe answer to the easy questions is “No.” At home, I separate the eggs using the shell (carrying the yolk over from one to the other, until one holds the whites and the other holds the yolk), but here it was suggested I use my hands as the sieve instead. Our fingers are natural instruments for this. I’m too precious about it at first, as Louie remarks. He suggests I widen the space between my fingers, and let the viscous whites have a little give to slip through. Chef Louie is very obviously right.

Then the basic steps. The aforementioned well in the mound of flour, the eggs gliding in. The most extraneous and probably the best part of doing this at a fine dining restaurant is the inclusion of a touch of food colouring to really heighten the yellow of a good, fresh, pasta. I use a fork at first to beat the eggs into the flour, and once they’re combined enough, I again switch to using my hand. With a bench scraper, we mix everything together, pack it all in and begin the very not fun act of kneading. I don’t do bread because I don’t knead, so after about 20 minutes of kneading this dough, I call out to Louie, “This isn’t fun anymore!” 

“You’re not even close to done,” he responds.

Yes, it’s annoying, but Louie was right. It was pretty easy. It involves using the heel of your palm, and a push and pull-over technique. Repetition is key, and despite my brattiness, it’s rewarded. Then, after letting it rest, Louie gets ready to turn the dough into pasta. “This is for tonight, right?” he asks, knowing I often host dinners at mine. “…No,” I say, (because I hadn’t thought about it, and had no plans to have guests over). He blinks again. “Then what are we doing here?” “Oh,” I realize. The benefit of fresh pasta is how good it tastes when fresh. This made sense. 

He laughs and places my hard-earned dough in a vacuum sealer machine, labels the date of creation (always a chef), and hands it to me. “Freeze, and use when needed.” Thanks, Louie!

The dough sat in my freezer longer than desired, as it was the holidays, and my pasta machine order was continuously delayed in delivery. I waited impatiently for its arrival and kept oscillating, wondering if I’d opt for noodle cut or ravioli. Finally, it arrived, the day before a flight (cruel joke), and I soon ordered a pasta cutter to boot. My best friend had been gifted a pasta machine for Christmas and wouldn’t stop telling me just how much she would never return to boxed pasta again. I was eager! After defrosting the dough and assembling my machine, I began the process in my very own kitchen. 

I was delighted by the experience. I felt like a little kid playing with Play-Doh. I loved how perfectly thin the dough got after feeding it through my pasta machine. I loved cutting with my pasta dough, and piping the filling with these long horizontal lines (I went for a mushroom ricotta filling). I boiled one little guy as a test — a little al dente, because who doesn’t love texture — and after cooling shortly, I tasted the thing and thought, “What have I been doing with boxed pasta this whole time?” This, in my kitchen, was just pasta, sure, but so much creamier, heavier, so much more savoury — and did I mention the texture? 

I texted chef Louie a picture of my ravioli-esque creation and asked if he was proud.

“Ya done good, kid.” ■

pasta from scratch recipe Bistro la Franquette Montreal
How I learned to make pasta from scratch at Bistro la Franquette


Pasta dough by Chef Louie Deligianis

  • “OO” flour 1.5 kg
  • Egg yolk 840 gr (48)
  • Water 200 gr
  • Citric acid 1 gr

Read our review of Bistro la Franquette here.

This article was originally published in the Feb. 2024 issue of Cult MTL.

For more on the food and drink scene in Montreal, please visit the Food & Drink section.