Casa Barilla and a Giveaway

A few nights ago I attended a cooking demonstration at Casa Barilla.

Although Barilla is a fourth-generation company turning over $7B per year, it’s products have only been available in Australia for the last decade or so.  When Barilla did start selling its pastas and pasta sauces here I was an instant convert.  In those days the products had to be hunted for on the bottom shelf of the supermarket and the range was fairly limited however today Barilla products are prominently displayed at eye-level and the range is extensive.

_B1I8652From the first time I tried Barilla pasta I never looked back.  What I liked about it was how well the pasta retained its shape and how it didn’t stick or clump or fall apart during the cooking process which are issues I’ve had with other brands.  In the last few decades I don’t think I’ve ever had a day when there hasn’t been a Barilla product in my kitchen.  My emergency dinner for starving children has always been to cook up some pasta, pour over a jar of sauce and top with cheese.  Very quick, simple and something the kids never seem to tire of.

Vintage posters made for the Barilla company

Vintage posters made for the Barilla company

I continue to buy Barilla but not just for the reasons mentioned.  More importantly, Barilla is preservative-free, additive free and contains no GMO ingredients and that is worldwide, not just in the Australian market.

There are many, many types of pasta in the Barilla range and they have just launched a range in whole wheat.  The exciting news is that this October a gluten-free range will launch in New York for the US market and in January the range including spaghetti and penne and several other varieties will launch here.

Barilla's posters

Barilla’s posters

The Casa Barilla headquarters in Sydney is in the very Italian suburb of Annandale in the Inner West.  Downstairs is the office space and upstairs is their kitchen and showroom.  Every week there is a range of cooking courses and cooking demonstrations being held and I attended a demonstration by Gabriele Taddeucci who is from Tuscany.  Gabriele began his cooking career at 14 and has been a chef in Italy, France, Switzerland, the USA and now Australia.  He is the Head Chef at Balla which is located at Star.

_B1I8648When we arrived at Casa Barilla we were offered a glass of Prosecco and invited to help ourselves to an antipasto platter that had a variety of charcuterie, some room temperature cheeses and some olives.  We mingled and introduced ourselves to the others attending the demonstration and quite naturally, they were people who are enthusiastic about their food and keen to acquire more knowledge about cooking and preparing dishes.

After we’d worked over the antipasto and I may have had a refill of Prosecco (the meat was salty), we sat down at the tables.  It doesn’t matter where you sit, you will always have a good view of what’s happening in the kitchen.

Luca Ciano, Casa Barilla's Head Chef

Luca Ciano, Casa Barilla’s Head Chef

Barilla’s head chef, Luca Ciano from Milan welcomed us and introduced us to Gabriele Taddeucci.  Gabriele gave us some information about Italian cooking.  I knew it is very regional but I did not know there are 20 regions.  I thought there were about seven!  Because he is from Tuscany, Gabriele cooked two dishes from that region where simple ingredients are put together to create something special.

The Casa Barilla kitchen

The Casa Barilla kitchen

The first was a chickpea soup with cuttlefish.  The chickpeas were soaked, cooked with some garlic and a few herbs, whizzed with a blender then Barilla’s Sundried Tomato pesto (Pomodori Secci) was blended through.  The cuttlefish needed to be cut almost as fine as spaghetti.  In order to achieve this, Gabriele says to put the cuttlefish in the freezer for a few minutes and that will make it more firm and stop it sliding around while you try to slice it. The cuttlefish was quickly cooked in a hot frying pan then placed on top of the plated up soup.  We enjoyed this with a glass of white wine.

Chickpea and Cuttlefish soup

Chickpea and Cuttlefish soup

The next dish was casarecce with leeks, sausage and salted ricotta.  As luck would have it, casarecce is one of my most favourite types of pasta.  The sausages were removed from their casings, cooked until golden then the white wine was added and allowed to evaporate.  Then the leek was added and sauteed until softened.  The mixture was toss through the pasta and the cheeses were added.  We enjoyed this with a red wine.

Pasta with Leeks and Italian Sausage

Pasta with Leeks and Italian Sausage

After the meal mini gelato cones were passed around that nicely completed the meal.

The courses/demonstrations run for an hour and a half and when you’re leaving you’re presented with a goodie bag containing the recipes, product and information on Barilla.

Me with Gabriele and Luca

Me with Gabriele and Luca

I had a really enjoyable evening where I was not only presented with excellent regional Italian cooking but also had the opportunity to watch incredible chefs in action and learn from their knowledge and skills.

The good news for Hotly Spiced readers is that Casa Barilla is giving away to one lucky reader a double pass to a Lombardy cooking course.  In the course you will learn how to make a Risoni Risotto Milanese, an Ossobucco with gremolata and a traditional Christmas Panettone – it’s never too early to prepare for Christmas!

The course dates are:

  • Wednesday July 3, 6.30 – 8pm
  • Thursday July 4, 6.30 – 8pm
  • Saturday July 27, 11am – 1.30pm

All you have to do to enter the competition is to like Hotly Spiced on Facebook and tell me in the comments your most favourite Italian dish.  Extra entries will be given to those who also like Hotly Spiced on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

This prize is valued at $180.00.  Everyone is eligible to enter the competition however you do have to be in Sydney to attend the course so that would eliminate a few of you.  The competition closes at 8pm on Monday, July 1 and the winner will be notified by email and on the Hotly Spiced facebook page.

Goodie Bags for course attendees

Don’t you love a goodie bag!

Good luck to everyone!


Italian chit-chat

Casa Barilla invited Hotly Spiced to attend the cooking course as a guest.  If you’d like to view the cooking courses currently available, click here.

Casa Barilla:  4 Annandale Road, Annandale NSW

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  1. Too bad I cannot be in Sydney would have love to attend one of the cooking classes.

  2. Agreed, Barilla do fabulous pasta and I love that their pasta comes in boxes and is easy to stack in the pantry. My favourite italian dish is (as cliched as it is) pizza. Ridiculously versatile and (if you make it yourself – dough included) always satisfying 🙂

  3. I’ve seen television commercials for Barilla pasta but never tried it. And regrettably couldn’t attend the cooking lessons though I would have loved to. And I love pasta too. 🙂

  4. Well NOW I’m really jealous, that’s a great give away! What I would give to be in Sydney for this class. We have Barilla products I’m Canada too and I have always admired their authenticity. It’s quite the thing for a product to be merchandised at eye level.

  5. If only Hong Kong was a little closer to Sydney, this sounds like a fantastic course. It looks like you had great time in the class.

  6. Well, that eliminates me here in Minnesota. And I could use a few cooking lessons. I buy Barilla pasta so I found this post particularly interesting. Not often one gets an insider perspective on a food company. Thank you for the tour.

  7. I adore Barilla and now desperately want a plate of that pasta with leeks and sausage!

    PS…had to giggle when you posted that you hadn’t been to Iowa 🙂 I’m not sure very many of my stateside friends have either!

  8. Barilla is my pasta of choice here in Mexico because they use durum wheat. I love how small our world really is. And I love the look of the pasta with leeks and sausage.

  9. Ohhh…how sad I can’t come to Sydney. Such handsome chefs…sigh!!!

  10. Isn’t Gabriele just the most gorgeous man? And he does amazing pasta for someone who has to only eat gluten-free! Lovely post, Charlie, you do look happy in that photo…hehehe…

  11. I would love to experience Barilla’s amazing classes, too bad I cannot enter due to it being close to trials! Lovely photos, these chefs are pretty fabulous! 😀


  12. G’day! Love Barilla pasta, true!
    Have made numerous dishes for them too!
    LOVED their cooking class when they were in Adelaide…
    WISH I lived closer Closer Charlie…imagine the Barilla Pasta friendship memories that will be made!
    Cheers! Joanne

  13. Looks like fun! That pasta dish looks reallllly yummy.

  14. I can’t be in Sydney but what a wonderful prize, Charlie! Looks like a great day for anyone but especially so for a food writer or professional eater. 🙂

  15. Has to be Lasagne with béchamel sauce for me!! Luckily it’s also my 3 boys favourite too. It’s always the birthday dinner request in our house. Yummmmmmo!

  16. This sounds like a great brand, especially with the gluten free pasta range. The demo must have been really good and the food had my mouth watering. A great perk for the blog! (PS nice photo of you with the chefs)

  17. Oh Pick Me, Pick Me Pick Me!! I’m in Sydney and available and freeeeeee! Does that sound desperate?!! LOL
    My favourite Italian dish of all time is a good, garlicky fettuccine marinara washed down with a glass of red. Gosh I’m salivating just thinking of it!

  18. Bugger should be going to Sydney rather than the Gold Coast 🙂

  19. Always excited to hear of a new gluten free range coming out, and more than happy to offer my services as taste tester!

  20. I really like their wholemeal pasta! It’s so much better than other brand’s wholemeal pasta 🙂

  21. What a fun time. Now if I just lived in Sydney! Oh well, can’t win them all.
    Have a lovely weekend Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  22. Best not put me in the competition (Sydney and Perth are inconveniently located sometimes!), but this does sound like a great Italian experience.

  23. I just knew there was a reason I needed to move to Australia:D Lucky readers who get to enter this one! We have Barilla here as well, I’m excited they will be offering Gluten-Free alternatives soon. We aren’t gluten-free, but I’m cutting back on that sort of thing. What a fun night, I just love cooking classes and demonstrations! xx

  24. This class sounds like a lot of fun! I always love Italian food and learning new things about it. I’d like to sample my way through every pasta shape that’s made!

  25. Unfortunately I can’t be in Sydney but when I don’t make my own pasta Barrillo is my product of choice. Coincidently I made Ossobucco with gremolata tonight for dinner. I do like cooking classes must check if they have some in Melbourne.

    • It’s interesting you say that because a few readers who make their own pasta have told me that when they can’t make their own, they always buy Barilla!

  26. I’ve been a Barilla fan for years, Charlie, and when looking for a particular pasta, their’s is the first company I look for. I sure would have liked to have attended that class. The food alone was worth attending.

  27. Justeen says:

    Did I mention, I live in Sydney and I’m free :0). Fingers and toes crossed!

  28. Rats I missed the giveaway cut off. That will teach me not to come over here quicker. Looks like a great night out.

    Just as an aside, I recently used a jar of Barilla sauce in a Lebanese bean dish I make and I remember thinking this dish, which I cook regularly, was particularly good this time due to the sauce. I didn’t know it was preservative free etc but that makes me like it even more. I will certainly be purchasing it again.


  29. I love the blue box Barilla and can spot their brand right away from far. 🙂 It’s wonderful that they have the cooking class! Pasta with leeks and Italian sausages sounds delicious!

  30. Barilla has been my favorite pasta for as long as I can remember, and for all of the same reasons. You get to have so much fun! 🙂


  1. […] If you’d like to enter the competition to win a double pass to an Italian cooking course showcasing the regions of Italy, click here. […]

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