Kyabram Free Press
All shapes and sizes
Whether it is a bowl of piping hot spaghetti bolognese or the creamy goodness of a fettuccine carbonara, you will be hard pressed to find a food more popular than pasta.
Served in over 600 different shapes and sizes, the much loved Italian favourite was officially recognised on Monday (October 25), as families and friends across the globe came together to celebrate World Pasta Day.
Flying the flag for the cuisine in the Campaspe region is Casalare, which produces its wide range of gluten-free pasta at its factory on Crichton St, from where it is distributed to stores nationally.
Founded by Nancy and Barry Hewitt in 1988, the Casalare journey began in a small shop in the South Gippsland town of Mirboo North — before they decided to move the operation to Kyabram in 2005.
With Casalare now an esteemed name in the pasta manufacturing business, Mr Hewitt explained what the company was all about.
“We specialise mostly in gluten-free, we do a range of gluten-free pastas from spaghetti to lasagne and short goods,” he said.
“We sell our own brand nationally through IGAS and we also manufacture for some other fairly big players in the industry — we also do baking mixes, gluten-free self-raising flour, gluten-free crumbs, which we invented, and that is our main operation.”
For those who don’t understand how fresh pasta is made, he gave a description of how the process works.
“Talking about gluten-free, we obviously use a range of gluten-free flours, which are a blend of rice, flour, tapioca and potato starch, and those are our main ingredients,” he said.
“We use mostly pre-cooked materials and simply the flour is blended together and then made into a dough, which then goes into the pasta extruders, which press the dough through dryers on the front of the machine, which gives you the variety of shapes pasta comes in.
“Depending on how it is shaped that is how we will deal with the drying aspect of it and then once it is dry we pack it up either in bulk for food service or into retail packs.”
Mr Hewitt said there were a number of different features that separated Casalare from its local competitors.
“When it comes to gluten-free pasta I think we have the best quality product on the market and we hear that back from our customers,” he said.
“The main advantage with our pasta is that it does cook with a degree of firmness, which a lot of other gluten-free pasta’s don’t, and it doesn’t stick together and it has a pleasant flavour.
“Taste and texture is what people look for when it comes to pasta and I think we kick both of those goals — it is something that has taken a while to perfect and we certainly did not get it right on the first shot.”
An enthusiast when it comes to pasta, Mr Hewitt said it was fantastic to see the cuisine recognised with a global holiday and explained why it was such a popular meal among Australian families.
“It (the holiday) was started in the mid-90s to put some value on pasta and get people excited because it is a comfort food to a lot of people,” he said.
“It is something people love to have once or twice a week and World Pasta Day just celebrates what is a fantastic cuisine.”