Even star chefs have things to learn

Herb pie 

Working with thin laminated doughs like phyllo can strike fear in the even the most confident cook. But even if your technique isn't perfect, you shouldn't be afraid to jump in and try making something with it, says Yotam Ottolenghi. Even the celebrated chef admits to being intimidated by these types of dough.

Even though he was trained as a pastry chef, Ottolenghi said that he stands in admiration of people who have dedicated their careers to mastering things like phyllo and warka pastries. He thought he was pretty good at handling these until he made the 2012 television series 'Mediterranean Feast'. Three different trips to pastry shops set him straight. 

Ottolenghi recalls attempting to help Mustafa, a fifth-generation chef in Istanbul, roll out and stretch phyllo. "What followed was nothing short of comedy as I got lost in the clouds of flour resulting from my trying to "help" and to roll out the pastry at a pace that would keep it from drying out," he says. 

The chef shares these humbling experiences to let us know that "compared with the experts, we're all on training wheels when it comes to making thin laminated pastry." He continues, "Don't be scared. Take delight in the fact that it isn't necessary for home cooks to make their own. There is enough good ready-made phyllo available." Ottolenghi follows this encouragement with tips on working with phyllo. 

Photo of Herb Pie from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

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