Chef Bruce Kalman's Spaghetti alla Chitarra plate is presented after a demo at ICE LA.

Former "Top Chef" Contestant Bruce Kalman’s Best-Seller: Spaghetti alla Chitarra

Making this pasta's like strumming a guitar.

"Top Chef" season 15 competitor Bruce Kalman visited ICE’s Los Angeles campus in June to demonstrate his best-selling pasta. The former executive chef and co-owner of Northern Italian restaurant Union in Pasadena, California, has appeared on the Food Network and Esquire Network, received a James Beard Award nomination for Rising Star Chef and founded Bk Hospitality Group. When he's not developing new concepts, Chef Kalman's strumming his guitar, hanging with his young son and running a pickle company called BK Brinery.

Spaghetti alla Chitarra is a regional pasta from Abruzzo. The noodles are made with, just as it sounds, a guitar, which happens to be Chef Kalman’s muse. In fact, he owns three: a Taylor six-string acoustic, a Yamaha 12-string acoustic and an electric Gibson, which he likes to jam out on with ‘90s grunge, '80s hits and current rock. “In the case of artisanal pasta, [the chitarra] is a wooden box laced with guitar strings that cut sheets of pasta into square, thick-cut spaghetti noodles,” explains Chef Kalman. The trick is placing the dough over the strings and pressing a rolling pin over the tense wires. Before that’s mastered, the keys to preparing this spaghetti, and really any pasta, are to not over hydrate the dough and make the dough by hand (whenever possible). The last pointer is to experiment.

“Experiment with doughs for different types of noodles using different flour and adjusting the method,” says Kalman. “For instance, roll more or less time for a stronger bite versus a softer dough.” If you can’t source a chitarra, substitute the spaghetti with dried pasta and prepare the simple, yet transcendental tomato sauce. Here's the complete recipe.



Spaghetti alla Chitarra

Makes 4-6 servings


  • 1 cup durum wheat flour
  • 4 tablespoons semolina
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2 cage-free eggs, extra large
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the flour, semolina and salt, and pile in a mound; create a well in the center.
  2. Add 1 egg and beat with a fork together with the oil.
  3. Using a plastic spatula, stir the egg and slowly incorporate flour.
  4. Mix until the dough ball forms; remove from the bowl and place the dough on a clean work surface.
  5. Begin to knead the dough into a smooth ball, about 10 minutes, and immediately wrap with plastic to avoid drying out.
  6. Allow the dough to rest at least 30 minutes before using.

*You can substitute dry spaghetti or fresh, store-bought noodles.



  • 1 ounce olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, shaved thin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 Fresno chiles, cut in halves
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 2 quarts canned San Marzano tomatoes, pureed in the blender
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1 pinch kosher salt


  1. In a medium-size sauté pan, add the olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and Fresno chile.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring the garlic slices to cook evenly until golden brown.
  3. Add basil, tomatoes and butter, and stir; season with salt.
  4. Allow the sauce to cook to melt the butter and infuse the flavors of all of the ingredients.
  5. Cook the spaghetti al dente (for dried pasta, about 6 minutes, for fresh pasta, 3-4 minutes).
  6. Strain all of the water and add the pasta to the sauce; mix well to coat the pasta with sauce.
  7. Cook spaghetti in the sauce for another 2-3 minutes, allowing the pasta to soak.
  8. Remove from heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano; stir to incorporate and allow the pasta to sit for 1 minute.
  9. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large bowl or plate; add more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and some fresh basil leaves.
Chef Bruce Kalman demonstrates using a chitarra at ICE LA.
Chef Bruce Kalman demonstrates using a chitarra pasta maker at ICE LA.

Make more pasta in ICE's Culinary Arts program or with Chef Robert Ramsey's ricotta ravioli recipe.

Submitted by Theodore Hayse on August 1, 2018 11:00pm

I love the spicyness of the sauce. Also the sauce sticks to the spaghetti. And finally the extra cheese to set it off!

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