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The chef and content creator Danny Freeman, also known as Danny Loves Pasta, was a picky eater as a kid. Pasta was his comfort — a rare food he knew he could count on loving whatever the circumstance. “I come from a big Italian-American family,” Freeman says. “There was a lot of food, a lot of family, and a lot of gathering. Pasta was my go-to for every occasion.”
Freeman’s first career path was decidedly non-pasta-centric. For about a decade, he worked as a lawyer for a nonprofit legal aid organization in New York City. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he switched to working from home. That summer, he and his partner welcomed a baby girl into their family.
“We were new dads and not sleeping,” Freeman remembers. That year, in 2020, “for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t go home for Christmas. My grandmother made fresh pasta every Christmas, and I made her recipe at home.” It was a quiet holiday, made special by bowls of homemade pasta.
Freeman’s grandmother passed away unexpectedly a few weeks later. Grieving and inspired by her memory, he turned again to her recipe for fresh pasta. Freeman found himself “making pasta late at night when my daughter went to bed, or during naptime,” he said. “I felt connected to my grandmother. Plus, kneading the dough was meditative, and the whole process was soothing.”
On a whim, Freeman posted a video of himself making pasta to TikTok. The social media world was new to him — he didn’t even have an account before he made his first post. The process felt both creative and freeing, as Freeman’s newbie status on the platform meant there were zero expectations. It was a thrilling surprise when his pasta videos started to take off.
He learned fast. “I had to make pasta, film, edit, and post before my daughter woke up from her nap,” Freeman remembers. “All parents know there is never enough time.”
Freeman’s TikTok success “forced me to be more creative,” he says. He responded to his new community’s requests for fun shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors by undertaking culinary experiments. He discovered there was a supportive, joyful pasta-making community online, and he loved being a part of it.
Freeman’s signature pasta style is playful; he embraces whimsical shapes (flowers, candy, and little plants) and vivid colors. And he doesn’t take the easy food-dye route. “I use turmeric for bright yellow, blue spirulina for bright blue, and purple sweet potato or cabbage to make purple dough,” Freeman explains.
As Freeman’s following grew, he was “influenced by wanting to make cooking fun for my toddler.” She loves to assist in the kitchen by kneading dough and stamping playful pasta shapes with cookie cutters.
Before he knew it, Freeman’s second career — pasta! — took off, and he left his lawyer job to focus on cooking and his family. Four months ago, Freeman and his husband became dads to another baby girl. (She hasn’t started to eat pasta yet, but Freeman is hopeful that she’ll love it.)
Freeman’s new cookbook, Danny Loves Pasta, is emblematic of his pasta philosophy: With no special equipment, he teaches readers to turn simple ingredients like flour, eggs, beets, and spinach into vibrant works of delicious pasta art in every color of the rainbow.
Though Freeman doesn’t have a ton of extra time on his hands, he does like to have friends over to make pasta. We sat down with him to get his tips on how to recreate the communal pasta-making magic at home.
Throw A Pasta-Making Party to Remember
If you’re looking for a fun get-together, making pasta ticks a lot of boxes. There’s something inherently communal and pleasurable about pasta. “It’s a great group activity,” Freeman explains. “Pasta is easy to make, hands-on, and doesn’t take very long to learn. It’s very forgiving; if you mess up, it’s not a big deal.”
The main thing you need is space for everyone to work — a kitchen or dining room table or a big countertop does the trick. You don’t even need a pasta maker: Freeman suggests rolling out dough with a rolling pin and using a knife to cut it into noodles.
Gather ingredients for a good time.
The pasta-making ingredients are basic; most of the things you probably have at home or can have delivered via DoorDash, like flour, water, and eggs. But to make it a real party, “Have some snacks, have some wine, and make a sauce ahead of time,” he says.
Flour is your friend.
Freeman warns that the most common pasta snafu is overly sticky dough, where the noodles clump together. If you or your guests face this dilemma, Freemans’s advice is to add more flour to your dough.
Cook as you go.
Have some pots of water going, and let guests cook and sauce their own creations. They can dig into their pasta there and then. Embrace a little chaos — it’s part of the fun.
Pack it up.
A pasta party bonus is that everyone can go home with pasta, a built-in party favor. Freeman recommends having your guests bring reusable containers so they can enjoy any leftovers at home.
Your pasta party might just turn into an event that everyone can enjoy. “So many cuisines have noodles at their heart,” Freeman says. “Pasta is universal.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Danny Freeman