Whether it’s Amaury Gichon making live-sized chocolate sculptures, chef Aakash Deshpande of Nava turning Van Gogh’s starry night into a dessert, or home chef Annie giving her Christmas menus a twist with Snowman Idlis and Santa Dosas, there are chefs around the world who take on the role of artists and wow us with their plating and presentations, besides the delicious flavours, of course. There’s no dearth of creativity in the culinary space and today, chefs are also wearing the hat of artists. Now, there’s a new chef on the block who is turning food into a form of art with pasta.
Kanpur-based Disha launched Dèa: Lusso Pasta Boutique, where she designs colourful and vibrant fresh pasta which she hand rolls into various shapes at her very own home kitchen. Dèa means Goddess in Italian. From Barbie colours to nature-inspired themes, Dèa’s artisanal pasta boxes are not just pretty and Instagram-worthy, but also healthy. It’s vegan, handcrafted and sun-dried with utmost hygiene, and comes with serving suggestions.
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A lawyer by profession, Disha was interested in cooking since childhood. It’s impressive that she has learned the art of pasta-making without any formal culinary training. In an interview with ELLE, she tells us all about how she gathered interest in the culinary world and more about her pasta boutique.
ELLE: What drew you towards pasta making?
Disha: Before launching Dèa, I had a food page by the name of @deezdine. During the COVID lockdown, I got a lot of time to follow my passion and develop it further. That’s when I came across the concept of fresh pasta, which intrigued me. Given that I’ve always been into arts and crafts, I found pasta-making to be a combination of both cooking and creativity. I started practising at home, came up with some designs and things worked out in a very fruitful way for me. Eventually, it turned into a full-fledged pasta boutique realising that this is something really new and unique in the country. But most importantly, it combines cooking and is a treat for the eyes. I find myself very happy when I do this. It’s my sacred space.
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ELLE: When it comes to cooking, who has been a major influence on you from your family?
Disha: For a child, the mother’s influence is the maximum. I remember my mom and I watching cooking shows together after school and I loved that. She has always been into cooking and I would always be in the kitchen, observing her. She is not into pasta-making but more into Indian food. I think she’s definitely my inspiration for cooking.
ELLE: What inspires your pasta designs?
Disha: Inspiration is everywhere. Recently, I made tiger-inspired pasta and then made a salad out of it that contained broccoli and mushrooms. When I tossed it all together, it looked like a tigress in the forest. Everyone in my family loved it. So I think the inspiration is definitely everywhere–whether it’s a pattern I saw on my very basic t-shirt or a curtain, or from a beautiful combination of somebody wearing a co-ord set in the grocery store. Art is everywhere; it’s your eyes which can pick out stuff and that’s how I go about it.
ELLE: How are people responding to your pasta boutique so far?
Disha: It has been pretty good. People have appreciated my work. They have always said that they have not seen something like this, particularly in my city. I have done a few exhibitions in which people have got to know about this. I also make sauces for my pasta and wish I could deliver it pan India, but that’s not possible. But the exhibitions have helped spread the word.
ELLE: What kind of pasta do you offer?
Disha: There are two ranges–premium and extra premium. The latter uses organic colours, wherein I extract the colours from flowers, fruits and vegetables all by myself high-quality durum wheat flour/ multigrain flour/ gluten‑free flour and edible colours. Unlike store-bought highly processed pasta, this fresh pasta gets ready within five to six minutes. Once ready, you can add it to salads, soups, and sauces or gently toss them in olive oil and Italian seasonings.
ELLE: Are your pasta boxes set or customised?
Disha: Most pasta boxes are customised. I never repeat any box; none of them are the same. Given the purpose behind my pasta boutique, I celebrate every customer by telling them how extraordinary they are. My artwork in the pasta box is dedicated to celebrating your uniqueness. So that way, I get to do something really heart-touching for people. Plus, it gives me a wider scope to explore more, not restricting myself to the same combinations.
ELLE: What are your future plans?
Disha: I haven’t thought about it. I’m still rolling pasta. I wonder if this is what I’m going to do all the time. But no, I also haven’t figured out what new I can add to it. Let’s see what unfolds in the future. I’d be happy to collaborate with fashion designers–it’s enjoyable to have something like a Masaba print on pasta. In a very subtle way, my pasta is fashionable food. I would also love to open my own beautiful place wherein I serve pasta completely my way. I just want to be so creative that people are blown away every time they come to my restaurant.