Juliane Thieme ironically refers to her creations as “two-minute noodles” — and indeed two minutes is about as long as it takes to boil one of the 27 varieties of pasta and gnocchi, add it to any one of 20 tomato- or cream-based sauces and proclaim it home-made, because that’s the way it tastes.
Delicious products under the label Pasta Factory are ubiquitous in Cape Town, found everywhere from the popular Biscuit Mill Saturday food market to upmarket delis and neighbourhood grocery stores.
When Thieme began to develop her own recipes for pasta and sauces for her small restaurant in Kloof Street, Cape Town, she did not envisage pasta-making taking over her life. Although the Pasta Factory restaurant no longer exists, the eight-year-old family-run factory of the same name is doing great business.
Initially it was the freshly made pasta and pasta sauces that brought diners to German-born Thieme’s restaurant. Later, she added pizza to her menu.
When the demand grew for her products and she began to supply other restaurants, she decided “that direction suited us better” and closed the restaurant to concentrate on developing new tastes and textures in pastas and sauces.
The flour and many of the other ingredients are imported from Italy, as are the gleaming machines in the small factory, staffed by 18 people, including her husband, daughter and older son.
The younger son, still at school, can be found at the Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning offering taste treats to potential customers, so it is truly a family affair.
The extensive product list contains a mouth-watering selection of different forms of pasta, all of it freshly made and vacuum packed, none of it frozen. The range includes exotica such as squid ink tagliatelle, comfort food (potato, spinach or butternut gnocchi), rich and luxurious salmon ravioli and beef panzerotti, and a variety of sauces, from amatriciana (with bacon and chilli) to roasted veg, a classic Alfredo, creamy chicken and sage, mushroom and herbs, and sundried tomatoes.
And, if using even two pots seems like hard work, there are ready-to-eat meals and baked pasta dishes, such as lasagna and cannelloni, waiting to be popped straight into the oven and heated. Even the pizza bases have been baked and just need heating up.
It doesn’t get simpler than that.