|Sfoglini has some of the best homemade pasta around –credit|
In Italian, “sfoglini” means “pasta maker” –– a fitting name for one of the best local food businesses to grace New York City in recent years. Starting with the finest domestic semolina flour, Sfoglini has a knack for crazy shapes and fine flavors, infusing their pastas with ingredients like kale, cocoa, chestnut, cuttlefish, and truffle. The company, which will turn two in July 2014, started out as a business idea between two friends, Steve Gonzalez and Scott Ketchum.
|Basil Fusilli made with fresh basil from the Brooklyn Grange –credit|
A trained chef, Gonzalez has a degree in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Colorado and has been working in restaurants for over 14 years, including owning one or two along the way. He even worked for three years cooking his way through Italy. While he keeps busy with his hands in the semolina dough, Ketchum’s creative talents lie in branding and outreach.
|Scott Ketchum, left, and Steve Gonzalez, right, are co-owners of Brooklyn-based Sfoglini|
A veteran creative director and graphic designer, Ketchum left the corporate agency world for something more hands-on and entrepreneurial. After reaching a point in his career where he could either stay on track or make a change, he said, “I knew I did not want to go to another firm or ad agency.” So, when his partner had the idea to sell fresh, locally sourced and manufactured pasta at both retail and wholesale prices and quantities, Ketchum started writing a business plan. Gonzalez worked on test batches of pasta which he let friends and family sample. They soon had their own operation, Sfoglini Pasta, and workspace at Suite 806 at the old Pfizer building at 630 Flushing Ave. in Brooklyn.
|Homemade spaghetti –credit|
Today, Sfoglini has partners in 15-16 different restaurants throughout the city, including Resto, Mandarin Oriental, The Peninsula, and North End Grill. Oftentimes, new clients come to them through chef-to-chef referrals, a rarity in the business, Gonzalez says. Their pastas can also be found in specialty shops across 13 states and in Canada. In NYC, you can buy Sfoglini Pasta at Gourmet Garage, Union Market, Bedford Cheese Shop, Stinky Brooklyn, and more. Or, you could just stop by their headquarters. Take the G or J, M, Z trains to Flushing Avenue. Once at 630 Flushing, enter on Tompkins Avenue and take the elevator to the eighth floor.
Steve will greet you in person and answer all your pasta questions, as he loves everything about it. “Pasta is very relaxing,” he said, and he does not just mean as a satisfying meal. “It’s relaxing to make.” With an assistant, he hand mixes every batch of pasta dough before placing it into an extruder, a machine with a 20-gallon hopper and customizable bronze dies that can be adjusted to create almost any shape of pasta. Sfoglini’s three signature varieties, whole wheat, seasonal (flavored), and organic, come in a multitude of designs, including radiators, trumpets, reginetti, zucca, shells, cavatelli, and fusilli.
|Sfoglini’s squash radiators –credit|
Meanwhile, Scott can be found in the office processing orders, negotiating sales, adding inspiration to the website, logo, or packaging, or cultivating current promotions like their Pasta of the Month Club. Pasta lovers can sign up online or enroll a loved one in a quarterly, bi-annual, or yearly membership. Each month they receive one organic and one seasonal pasta, shipped anywhere nationwide.
|A tasty gift box –credit|
Working together, side by side each day, these co-owners don’t take days off or keep regular hours. But they love what they do, and it shows in their quality pasta, which they just see as another reason to work hard. Scott said he doesn’t have any regrets even though the transition from a 9-to-5 desk job to life as a 24/7 entrepreneur has presented its challenges. “I’m very happy I made the move.”
|Sfoglini shells with lamb ragu –credit
630 Flushing Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11206