Articles / The World's Most Charming Home Cooks

The World's Most Charming Home Cooks

Published September 7, 2022

Serious talk: ironic takeout, fallback dinners, bagged salad, and cacio e pepe fails

“I don’t know how to grocery shop like a regular person. Do you shop once a week and get a whole bunch of stuff and then cook that food? Because I don’t know what that means. I shop almost every day. How do you know what you want to eat in three days? That’s weird.”
— Holly Haines

There are two things that we all hear routinely all summer — complaints (or enthusiasm!) about how hot it is, and disbelief about how quickly the summer goes by. Well, it’s practically done, and I feel a little like George Costanza in Seinfeld“this was supposed to be the summer of George!” – for many reasons.

But fall is a favorite for many of us, especially on the East Coast, for obvious weather-related reasons, and also for the fresh beginnings it always seems to bring. New cooking opportunities abound with different vegetables and different schedules. So we thought it’d be nice to gather a few of our favorite people who cook for this week’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman, in which we discuss home cooking — the challenges, the wins, the ingredients, the memories.

Here we are: me and Kate, and then Kevin Becerra, our wonderful family friend and the Risotto King; Holly Haines, who many of you know from her wonderful Instagram photography and recipes and her work on our team; and Lavin Marez, who works at Christian Dior by day and cooks like a madman the rest of the time. It’s a joyful bunch, and you’ll easily be able to tell how much fun we had.

Please listen, subscribe, and review. And we’d love to hear your food-related questions, as we’d like to start doing live Q&A: Email us: [email protected]. The recipe featured in today’s episode — Cacio e Pepe, in honor of Lavin — is below.

Thank you, as always. — Mark

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Cacio e Pepe

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

This is both one of the simplest and best pasta recipes I can think of. Rather than cooking a sauce, you just (vigorously) stir everything together in a big bowl. Good all the time (even for breakfast), but especially at midnight. 


  • Salt

  • 1 ½ cups finely grated pecorino Romano, plus more for dusting completed dish

  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, plus more for finishing the dish

  • 3/4 pound tonnarelli or other long pasta like linguine or spaghetti

  • Good olive oil


1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil. In a large bowl, combine the cheeses and black pepper; mash with just enough cold water to make a thick paste. Spread the paste evenly in the bowl.

2. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. The second before it is perfectly cooked (taste it frequently once it begins to soften), use tongs to quickly transfer it to the bowl, reserving a cup or so of the cooking water. Stir vigorously to coat the pasta, adding a teaspoon or two of olive oil and a bit of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if necessary. The sauce should cling to the pasta and be creamy but not watery.

3. Plate and dust each dish with additional pecorino and pepper. Serve immediately.

— Recipe from the New York Times

Cacio E Pepe
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