It takes a while for Mike Ruymen to get sick of pasta. Photo by Chip Scheuer.
Mike Ruymen, the Santa Cruz fixture behind the Pasta Mike brand, took a minute to talk about his noodling.
How did you get started making pasta?
A fellow chef at Zanzibar Restaurant taught me the art of handmade pasta 25 years ago. I immediately found joy.
Did the sauces come later, after the noodles and ravioli? What are your current best selling sauces?
I started with handmade fettuccine. Two months later, I had visions of raviolis on our Hawaiian honeymoon. Shortly after, sauces just came naturally. My best sellers are the classic three: Old World Marinara, Alfredo and Pesto al Positive, which some customers have told me is like medicine to them. I only use high quality ingredients (no canola oil used in my recipes). Just recently I added Hawaiian Pesto to my sauce selection.
Do you find a real pleasure in making something by hand?
I feel a sense of accomplishment and a zen-like peace of mind whenever I am working with pasta dough.
What did you plan to do with your life, originally, before you became “Pasta Mike”?
I planned on relaxing in Santa Cruz, marrying a beautiful woman, have kindhearted children and feed my friends and family with delicious healthy food. I am fulfilling my plan.
Why do you think people love pastas dishes?
Because everybody was once a kid and what kid doesn’t love a comforting bowl of pasta? I read a quote by Frederico Fellini saying “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” I agree.
Do you ever get tired of eating pasta?
Only when we are low on food in the fridge and we’re having pasta for the third time in a week.
And if you do get tired of eating pasta, what do you fix at home?
I love cooking so I am always cooking—vegetable soups, salads, Thai stir fry, chile rellenos casserole, eggplant Parmesan, polenta, curried chicken, cookies, mud pie, etc. We eat well.