Why Dark Orange Yolks Make All the Difference
Stefano Secchi of Rezdôra talks about finding the perfect eggs for pasta
Once a chef at Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana and Hosteria Giusti, both in Modena, Stefano Secchi at Rezdôra (27 E. 20th St., Manhattan), brings Michelin-starred experience and nice-guy vibes to the Flatiron District.
His restaurant is inspired by the food of Emilia-Romagna, “because we’re super passionate about pasta uovo,” (eggs) he says. Emilia-Romagna is the region known for Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma, and real-deal balsamic. It’s also where pasta is generally made with softer flour and eggs, unlike pasta in the southern provinces, where it’s more often made from durum and water.
Secchi, who grew up in the U.S., spent five months of every year of his youth living in Italy, his family’s homeland. Though he’d been going between countries for his whole life, as a young adult he opted to stay in Italy to cook for three or four years. “It was probably the most influential time in my life,” he says.
Once he returned to cook in the U.S., he found he couldn’t take ingredients for granted — namely, the quality of eggs.
“I think what it comes down to is that we didn't really realize how difficult it was going to be,” he says.
For Rezdôra, he asked producers high and low where to get eggs with dark orange yolks, even going direct to producers to find out whether, “we can feed [chickens] a very carotene-rich diet,” he says. He cited Dan Barber’s experiment up at Blue Hill, where he fed chickens peppers so their eggs had dark red yolks as a result.
He was puzzled as to why it was so hard to find the eggs he was looking for because his experience had been so different. At his family’s farm in Sardinia, “any type of watermelon we have or any type of melons, any type of cucumbers, any type of tomato, any type of carrot trimmings: it all goes into a big bucket and then we feed our chickens that,” he says. “Then, our chickens' yolks are dark, dark orange. It's not some synthetic feed that you have here in the States because you're just trying to crank out eggs.”
Six months in, Rezdôra finally found a farm out that has Italian-style dark orange yolks. “We started using them, which has been life-changing,” he says. “They're expensive, but it changes everything. They’re so beautiful.”
Even if you can’t make it to his restaurant, Secchi encourages you to make your own fresh pasta at home. “There's a great food processor recipe where you're going to have two little eggs and 200 grams or 220 grams of flour: Put them together, buzz them up real quick, make a quick dough, knead it, cover it with plastic wrap, and you can start rolling out pasta in 20 minutes and then have a very simple sauce,” he says.
“The payoff is so huge. People taste that for the first time where there's a little bit of bite to it and then all of a sudden it just melts in your mouth,” Secchi says. “You're like, ‘Oh my God; this is incredible.’ That's why we based a whole restaurant around it.” (Finding those eggs for home cooking might, however, be a challenge.)
In addition to making pasta in the restaurant, Secchi is making pasta on Instagram with his son, Luca, who is nearly three years old. (I’ve dropped one from YouTube here because Substack doesn’t allow for Instagram embeds.)
“By the time we were on the latter end of [Lessons with Luca], he was legitimately grabbing the pulley with the pasta machine and rolling and trying to roll it himself,” says Secchi.
“Now he's obsessed, and…we have to get him small cooking sets because he uses all my pans and brings them out to the middle of the living room.”
Below, a few visuals of doppio tortelli-making at Rezdôra: