Fabio Trabocchi, the maestro at Maestro at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, has collected recognitions and awards as if he were plucking items from the shelves at Costco. Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation. 2005 Chef of the Year from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Four stars from Tom Sietsema. One of the “best new chefs” in America in 2002 from Food & Wine magazine.
But Trabocchi’s transition from kitchen to cookbook did not find favor with the Los Angeles Times’ Amy Scattergood. She calls the chef’s debut cookbook—the melodramatic mouthful Cucina of Le Marche: A Chef’s Treasury of Recipes from Italy’s Last Culinary Frontier, co-written by Peter Kaminsky—“hardbound trouble.” The writer’s first example is Trabocchi’s branzino in salsa piccante, which she says “suffers an assault by olive oil—one and a half cups go into the dish of two fish, meant to serve six.”
Worse yet is Trabocchi’s recipe for ravioli with fresh herbs and greens in lemon butter. It starts with a double recipe of one of the two pasta dough recipes in the book, each of which call for 16 to 18 egg yolks. With my KitchenAid mixer fitted with a dough hook on slow as instructed, I added the yolks (mixed with milk, olive oil and salt) to the flour. The mixture was thick as honey. As indicated, after the flour and eggs came together, I turned my machine to medium and prepared to wait the 15 minutes it would take for the dough to become “smooth and elastic.” But after two minutes my trusty machine (in mint condition prior to this) began making alarming grunting noises and the motor started to smell like my old VW did right before it died. End of ravioli recipe.