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Legaspy 4: Max

Max shows us how to make amatriciana pasta, the perfect dish to eat by candle light in Rome with your mother so that people mistake you for a couple.

Why is this your Legaspy?

M: I always thought of legacy dishes as something that you know off by heart and this has been something I've cooked on and off for a number of years and it just seemed like the obvious one to to go for. It's also something I put a bit of a twist on as much as you can.

L: And why did you find it?

M:I first had pasta amatriciana with my Mum when we went to Rome a few years ago. And it was absolutely fantastic as you'd expect and since then I just started making it.

K: So, regular rotation!

Who taught you how to cook?

M:Probably you [Lizzy] more than anything else. I know Mum is in the next room going 'I taught him to bloody cook'. I sort of helped out a little bit in the kitchen when I was younger, and then in order to stop myself starving, I made various terrible things during the early part of university, and it's just something I picked up in bits and pieces, as time goes by, I think probably I got a bit better during lockdown.

L: But that's just because you made amatriciana so much during lockdown; you had it every night one week.

M: Yeah, I did have it every night one week; it truly is my legacy dish.

K: But did you not have food tech at school?

M: No, no. The school I went to didn't have food tech or wood work or anything that wasn't academic.

K: Did you not have any technology subjects?

M: We didn't have DT at all.

K: That's crazy?

M: Yeah, it wasn't expected at that time, unless it was science or cricket they weren't interested. So no like formal training as it were; I was born this way.

L: I would also say you're playing yourself down because you cooked some dishes really well before I met you as well, like hot dogs - very good, burgers - very good, bacon sandwiches - I would also say it's one of your legacies.

M: Yeah, my bacon sandwiches are good, that's true; especially during university. I've branched out since then, gaspworthysups has really helped with that.

K: Always getting that promo in!

M: You heard it here first guys! Yeah, but I think that I learned enough to impress you [Lizzy] over a couple of meals, but then you hadn't quite plumbed the depths. If in a few meals time said 'oh we could do this meal', it would have been the finders chicken fillet with two slices of toast.

What is a dish you can't cook but wish you could?

M: I'm sure I could if I gave it a go, but probably the sardines on the bread, either polenta or on bread but that was the, the Italian thing? What was the name?

L: There's a Venetian dialect word for it... [it is sarde in saor]

M: That has definitely got to be up there. That's really good. But I have next to no experience at all of cooking with fish, I wouldn't really know where to start.

K: I really thought you were gonna say sardines on toast to start with; I was like: Max, surely not! Sardines on toast!

M: Arguably, it is sardines on toast so...

K: But you would have to cook the sardines... I thought you would open the tin and just put them on top of the toast!

All:* laugh *

M: I think I would be able to cook that, you know.

M: Yes, so I've never properly cooked anything with bones, so I don't really know what to do with that. So it would be either the sardine one or anything flambed because fire is fun .... but also very dangerous.

L: You should tell everybody about your creme brulee idea.

M: What's my creme brulee idea?

L: with the layers..

M: oh that's brilliant, okay!

K: Tell me, tell me!

M: So the basic idea is you do the creme and then you do the browning torch and then that's it done, right? The best bit, everyone knows, is the top bit. So my thinking, you do a layer of creme brulee, torchy, torchy, torch, leave it for a bit, another layer, torchy, torchy, torch, another layer, and so on; you get a layered creme brulee.

K: So, not just sugar, cream, sugar?

M: No.

K: But it would be one creme brulee with another one stacked on top?!

ALL:* Laugh *

M: Arguably, yes. But you're making it sound ridiculous!

K: I didn't realise you meant triple decker!

M: You laugh now but when your blog is writing this up in a few years time...

K: And all the top restaurants are doing triple decker creme brulee...

M: And I've just done my Time Magazine interview.

L: The cover would be a picture of you next to a ceme brulee that isn't just triple decker, but your height.

Who is your biggest inspiration when cooking?

M:  In terms of people I know… It's got to be Lizzy. Yeah, you're absolutely fantastic in the kitchen.

M: And in terms of more widely known people, I think, probably Anthony Bourdain. His approach to food linking in with people, is really, really great. And while, I enjoy cooking and things I think looking at where it comes from and why it's important and what it actually means. That's really fantastic. And I think he's also exposed me to quite a few different types of tastes and flavours I would never have tried. He's just adventurous with it. And that's something you need to be.

K:That's a good answer.

K&L: * stunned into silence at depth of answer *

What do you like to listen to while you cook?

M: Oh, that's a very good question actually. Like with most things, it depends on my mood. I think for, for washing the dishes it’s disco. 

K: Also an important part of the process that I think people forget! But disco for that is a great combo.

M: It depends on my mood for cooking though, if I want to do it and I want to be there, then happy music. Which tends to be 60s or 70s type stuff which is fairly upbeat and light. Or if I’m not in a rush, it’s probably thrash metal just to get it out the way.

K: Do you ever change the music to try and change your mood whilst cooking, or is the mood of the cooking comes first and you choose the music based on that?

M: It tends to be that. If I’m cooking in a rush, no amount of walking on sunshine is going to change that situation.

What is the best dish you've ever eaten?

M:that’s really difficult… probably for food itself..

L: I’m so interested what is not food that you’ve eaten?

All: laugh

K: or is it just vibes?

M: Like, if you're thinking just the quality of the food, it would probably be one of the times that we or I've been to Italy. I would say that's probably got to be up there.

L: May I press you for a specific dish..

M: then I’ll change my answer completely. If we’re thinking specific dish and overall vibes rather that’s just food, probably it was confit leg of lamb, it was either duck or lamb, I can’t remember which, with dauphinois potato..

K: My favourite!

M: And roasted vegetables in a jus. And that was the first and only time that I have been allowed first class on a long haul flight.

K: It was on a flight!!!! M: Seriously, it was such good food and especially because you don’t expect it to be good. So it was first class on a trip to Japan when I was at quite an impressionable age and that was the first time I think I ever went ‘wow, I am fancy’, ‘I am enjoying my perfectly cooked meat at 30,000 feet and I am brilliant’.

K: So it was the coming of age, the dish, like ‘I’m a man now’.

M: Look upon me ye mortals and despair!

Max's Amatriciana


1 1/2 white onions

2 tbsp olive oil

600g tin chopped tomatoes

275g pancetta

20g nduja (optional)

A block of parmesan

Pasta for two (fusilli or penne are best)

1)Finely chop 1 1/2 white onions. Add to a large frying pan with 1tbsp olive oil on medium high heat. Cook until translucent. Add 600g tinned chopped tomatoes and simmer.

2)Meanwhile add 1tbsp olive oil to a smaller frying pan, cook the pancetta on a high heat until very crispy. Set aside.

3)Put your pasta on to boil with plenty of salt.

4)Once the tomato sugo is cooked add in the pancetta drained of any oil. If using, add the nduja in small chunks at this point.

5)Grate a heap of parmesan. Add to the sauce until it is thick.

6)Drain the pasta and split between two plates. Dollop sauce on top and sprinkle over more grated parmesan and a crack of black pepper.


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