For chef Fabio Trabocchi, cooking is a family affair

Chef Fabio Trabocchi
Chef Fabio Trabocchi 05:13

Inspired by his father's cooking as a child, chef Fabio Trabocchi got a fast start on a culinary career. He got his first job while still in high school at a top restaurant in Milan. Two years later he was a sous chef and by 20 a chef de cuisine. 

After working in London and New York, he found a home in the Washington D.C. area along with a big following. He and his wife and business partner have opened five restaurants, including the most recent Del Mar which features specialties of his wife's native Spain.

Here are some of Trabocchi's signature recipes: 

Tagliolini alla parmigiana with Cinco Jotas jamon iberico


3 cups Italian 00 flour, or all-purpose flour
½ cup semolina flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
32-36 egg yolks
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cup chicken stock
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 ½ cups (about 6 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 ounces hand-sliced Cinco Jotas jamon iberico


1.Make the pasta dough: sift the two flours into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the salt. In a large liquid measuring cup or bowl with a spout, mix the yolks and ¼ cup of the olive oil. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the egg mixture and mix until the eggs and oil have been completely absorbed. Increase the speed to medium and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic.

2. Transfer the dough to a plate and massage with the remaining oil. Cover the dough with a dampened kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours before rolling. The dough can be refrigerated in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 day. Sprinkle a baking sheet with semolina and set aside. Dust a counter or other work surface lightly with semolina.

3. Divide the pasta dough into 4 pieces. One at a time, flatten each piece of dough under the palm of your hand and then roll it through a pasta machine, working from the largest setting to the smallest and passing the dough through each setting twice. Lay the completed sheets of pasta on the semolina-dusted counter and keep covered with a slightly dampened kitchen towel as you work.

4. Cut the sheets of dough into 10-inch long pieces. Using the pasta machine, cut the sheets into 1/8-inch-wide ribbons. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a dampened towel, and refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the chicken stock to a large sauté pan, bring to a boil, and simmer to reduce the liquid by one-third. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter, and gently move the pan back and forth on the burner until the butter melts and is incorporated into the stock. Season to taste with salt and remove from the heat.

6. Add the tagliolini to the boiling water and immediately stir to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the tagliolini begin to float on the surface. Set aside about ½ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta into a colander.

7. Carefully rewarm the sauce over low heat (do not boil or the sauce could separate. If that happens, add some of the reserved pasta water to emulsify). Add the pasta and Parmigiano, and toss well to coat. Divide the pasta among six warm plates or bowls. Top with the slices of jamon iberico and serve immediately.

Onions and potatoes smoked in hay 


1 ½ lbs yellow banana fingerling or other fingerling or peewee potatoes, skin on
1/2 lb cipolline onions, skin on
2-4 handfuls of fresh clean hay and fresh pine branches
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley 


1.Nestle the potatoes and cipolline onions in the hay in the Dutch oven, cover, and place over medium high heat. The hay will start to smoke (carefully lift the cover to check, after about 10 minutes).

2. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the onions and potatoes are soft. Turn off the heat and remove the potatoes and onions from the hay. Cover the Dutch oven otherwise the hay will continue to smoke.

3. Using a cloth napkin to protect your fingers, peel the cipolline onions. If the onions are large, cut them in half vertically. You can peel the potatoes, or not, according to your preference. Place the vegetables in a large saucepan or bowl season with salt, and drizzle over the olive oil. Add chopped parsley and stir to combine all.

Paella de pescado y mariscos

Sofrito ingredients

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped Spanish onions
½ cup chopped red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ cup chopped fresh tomato (approx. 1 plum tomato)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 oz fresh cuttlefish
Pinch saffron
½ cup seafood stock 


1. Heat the oil in a shallow pan and add the cuttlefish. Sauté for five minutes or until slightly browned, then remove and set aside.

2. Add the onion, red peppers, garlic, and cook until softened. Add the paprika, and cook for one minute. Add the tomato and tomato paste, turn up the heat slightly, and sauté until the tomato paste is golden. Add the cuttlefish back in with the saffron and the seafood stock, and simmer until the stock is absorbed.

Seafood stock ingredients

1 lb assorted whitefish bones, heads, cleaned and rinsed and cut into pieces
¾ lb assorted shells and heads of shrimp, langoustine, lobsters
2 oz Blue bay mussels
2 oz fresh calamari, diced
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
1 stalk celery, cut in 1-inch lengths
¼ leek, white and green parts, cut in 1-inch pieces
½ red bell peppers, cut in 1-inch lengths
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon saffron
2 dried ñora peppers
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ cup white wine
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon kosher salt 


1. Sauté the vegetables (onions, celery, leeks, peppers, and garlic) in a large stockpot with extra virgin olive oil until caramelized. Roast the fish bones and shellfish shells in the oven until golden brown. Set aside. 

2. When the vegetables are golden brown, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, saffron, nora peppers, and sweet paprika) and stir until golden and fragrant. 

3. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice, lemon zest, and white wine and simmer until the wine is reduced by 1/3. Add the roasted fish bones and shells to the stock along with the bay leaf, thyme, and black peppercorns.

4. Cover with cold water (approximately 2 quarts), bring to just under a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours. Remove from the heat. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve and cool.

To prepare the seafood: 

1. Open the lobsters: Bring a large stockpot of cold water to a boil. Add the lobsters to the pot head first, cover the pot, and cook for 7 minutes. Remove them from the water and when they are cool enough to handle but still warm, separate the tails and claws (reserve the bodies for another use?). Cut the tails in half lengthwise (still in the shell!), and then remove the veins. Remove the claws from the shells. (Note: this process can be done earlier in the day or the day prior so that the shells can be used for the seafood stock). The cooked lobster will keep for a day or two.

2. Open the mussels: Rise the mussels and remove their beards right before opening. Heat olive oil and garlic in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the mussels and the wine (the mussels should sizzle when you add them), and cover. As soon as the mussels open, remove them from the pot to a colander over a bowl to capture any juice. Keep the mussels warm until ready to serve. If doing in advance, store the mussels in their cooking juice (you can strain it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter to remove any grit).

3. Clean the calamari (remove the inner parts with your fingers, cutting the inner core just above the tentacles). If the calamari are large, cut the bodies into rings or smaller pieces. Pat the calamari dry with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

4. Peel the shrimp but keep the shells on the tip of the tails. While the rice is cooking, grill the shrimp and calamari: toss them in extra virgin olive oil and grill until the shrimp are just cooked - about 2 minutes per side. The calamari should be grilled over the highest heat possible (on the hottest part of the grill), for just a few minutes, until they start to get grill marks.

5. Toss all of the seafood in olive oil seasoned with thinly sliced garlic and freshly chopped parsley. Keep warm for garnishing the paella.

Aioli ingredients

1 large egg yolk
1 tsp lemon juice (squeezed from ½ lemon)
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp water, or as needed
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil 


1. Place the egg yolk, lemon juice, and garlic cloves, salt, and water in the bottom of an immersion blender cup. Add the oil.

2. Blend using the immersion blender, slowly tilting and lifting the head of the blender until all the oil is emulsified. Yields approximately 1 cup.

To plate

1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a large saucepan and then turn down the heat to low to keep warm. Heat the olive oil in the paella pan (approximately 16 inches in diameter) over medium high heat.

2. Add the sofrito and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the Bomba rice and stir to coat with the sofrito. Keep cooking for approximately 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the rice is translucent.

3. Add the stock and the saffron, bring to a boil, and then simmer until rice is nearly tender and the stock is absorbed, approximately 18 minutes.

4. Arrange the cooked seafood - lobster tails and claws, shrimp, calamari, and mussels - and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Italian trifle 

Pastry cream ingredients

1 quart whole milk
1 plump vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
1 dozen large egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch

Sponge cake ingredients

6 large eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
½ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt 

Marsala syrup ingredients

1 cup sweet Marsala
1/3 cup granulated sugar 

Whipped cream and fresh berries, for garnish


1. In a large saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla bean and seeds, and ¾ cup of the sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Discard the vanilla bean.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch and the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Whisk in 1 cup of the milk mixture. Whisk the egg mixture into the milk in the saucepan and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the custard just begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Switch back to a whisk and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick and bubbling, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the custard to a large heatproof bowl. Let cool, then press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 12x17 inch rimmed baking sheet and line the sheet with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and dust it with flour. In the bowl of a standing electric mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs with the sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture is thick and pale, about 7 minutes. Beat in the orange zest.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the cake flour with the cornstarch and salt. Working in two batches, sift the flour mixture over the beaten eggs, and fold it in. Pour the cake batter onto the prepared sheet and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cake is golden and springy. Let cool on a wire rack.

5. In a small saucepan, combine the marsala with the sugar and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool.

6. Run the blade of a paring knife along the sides of the cake and invert the cake onto a work surface. Peel off the parchment paper. Cut the cake into 3-inch squares. Reserve any scrapes to patch holes. In a large glass trifle bowl, arrange a layer of cake squares. Using a pastry brush, soak the cake with some of the marsala syrup. Top with a 1 inch layer of the pastry cream. Repeat with the remaining cake, syrup and pastry cream, ending with a layer of cake and syrup. Cover the trifle loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Top the trifle with the whipped cream (piped on using a fluted pastry tip) and berries, and serve.



1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup lard/manteca
4 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
¾ cup sliced almonds
½ vanilla bean
½ teaspoon fleur de sel (or other coarse sea salt) 


1. Toast the flour in the oven for 20 minutes at 340 degrees, stirring every 8 minutes for even browning. Toast the almonds on a separate sheet pan until light golden brown. Cut the butter into small cubes and keep cold until ready to mix.

2. Place the toasted flour and almonds into the freezer to chill them until very cold. Place all the ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix just until combined. Do not overmix. Remove the dough, cover with plastic, and refrigerate to relax the dough.

3. Roll out the dough to ½ inch thick. Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter or small glass, cut out circles of dough. Bake at 310 degrees for 6-7 minutes, you do not want to get any color on the cookies. Allow to cool.