Italian food has always had a big influence on my cooking.

I’ve never been to Italy but I have been lucky enough to eat at some amazing Italian restaurants in this country – Locanda Locatelli, Semplice and Theo Randal to name a few.

Zafferano was probably my first experience of truly great Italian cooking, some 15 years ago. And do you know, at the time I didn’t get it!

From memory the set price menu was £39 for three courses ( ours is only £43 now!) and the veal chop with Girolles I ordered carried a £10 supplement. A veal chop, a rosti potato, a few sautéed Girolles and a drizzle of sauce.

I came away wondering why something so simple was so expensive; surely the food should have been more elaborate, more worked, just more?

Over the years I have looked back at this meal and come to realise how good it actually was, a beautiful, carefully sourced piece of meat, a well crafted sauce and good seasonality.

For me simple, well sourced and seasonal are now integral to much of my cooking, they epitomise what is so good about Italian food and I do now understand.

It is an interesting journey that I’m sure many chefs go on, you start out when you first take charge of your own kitchen reproducing what you have learnt from others.

You may tweak things a little but while getting to grips with running a kitchen familiarity is your crutch.

As time goes on and your confidence grows you begin to experiment more, push the boundaries a little and start to come up with some ideas of your own, or at least some adaptations as very little in cooking is truly new.

Generally this means things get more complicated – stuffing, rolling wrapping, elaborate garnishes – and then as your confidence grows further you begin to realise that often less really is more.

The sourcing of the ingredients takes on more significance, the seasonality matters and the flavour of the dish becomes paramount.

This pasta dish certainly fits the bill. Adapt it according to what mushrooms are available at the time of year and if you want to make it really special make your own pasta.

As an added extra if you wanted to turn this into a meat-based dish some thinly sliced raw rose veal or free range chicken added when you combine the sauce and pasta would be fantastic.

You can view a pasta-making video on my website. Go to and look for Tagliatelli on the Blog page. join us on Twitter @SiennaDorset  For table bookings call Sienna Restaurant on 01305 250022.


Quick, simple and always satisfying, pasta dishes are a favourite of mine to cook at home. This recipe provides wonderful rich flavours and a great variety of textures making it my perfect kind of supper dish. Serves four.

COOKING TIME –  35 mins

300gm fresh egg tagliatelli
250gm fresh wild mushrooms
35gm dried wild mushrooms
25gm unsalted butter
50ml olive oil
2 large shallots
2 cloves garlic
50ml medium Madeira
75 ml dry white wine
100 gm crème fraîche
1 tbs chopped parsley
1 tbs chopped chives

Slice the shallots and garlic.
In a small pan, cover the dried mushrooms with water and add any parsley stalks and trimmings from the shallots and garlic. 
Simmer for 20 mins. Sauté the shallots and garlic in 2tbs olive oil.
When soft, add the alcohol and reduce to a syrup.
Strain the stock onto the shallot mix.
Reduce by half and then add the crème fraîche.
Reduce by half and season to taste.
In a clean pan, sauté the fresh mushrooms in the remaining oil, starting with the harder mushrooms first.
Finish with the butter and flat parsley.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
Drain and combine with the sauce and mushrooms. Cook together for 1 minute, a little longer if using the veal or chickenadd the chives and then serve