Top Chef’s ‘Buddha Lo Jokes His ‘Marry Me Pasta’ Could Have Been Named ‘Divorce Me Pasta’ Had He Lost

Deployment of the 50 food favorites

Emily Shur/Bravo

As part of the 50 Food Faves package, PEOPLE named our top taste makers, including Selena Gomez, Excellent chef‘s Buddha Lo, and more – who impacted the culinary world with their cooking and creativity in 2022. Find Lo below, and for the full list, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Buddha Lo set a goal “a long time ago” to win Excellent chef.

The Port Douglas, Australia native did just that during the show’s 19th season in Houston. Not only did Lo impress the judges early on with her foodie skills — host Padma Lakshmi considered her Parker House buns and strawberry and cream dessert two of the best dishes ever on the show — but he also demonstrated his mastery of preparing simple dishes. foods, like his “Marry Me Pasta” (below), inspired by a dinner his wife, Rebekah Pedler, cooked for him 12 years ago.

The two were working at Hare and Grace in London when Pedler prepared the Rigatoni Amatriciana for a staff meal. Lo loved him so much that he told Pedler that if they were still single at 30, he would marry her.

RELATED: Excellent chef Heading to London for Season 20 with a cast of star chefs from around the world

Now 31 and married for four years, the chef tells PEOPLE he ‘hasn’t changed a thing’ and it’s a meal they still enjoy together. Doing it during the Family Style Challenge in Episode 11, which Pedler appeared on, was no different for him than doing it in his own kitchen.

“I had no pressure to make this dish. It was a dish that was the turning point of my life and if I was to go home I wanted people to know this story and how special this dish is for me,” he said. .

RELATED: Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio watch the Queen’s funeral procession during filming Excellent chef in London

“My wife, on the other hand, didn’t know about the outcome and was freaking out on the way back to New York and hoping I wouldn’t be sent home for the dish,” Lo adds. “We’re kidding if I were to be eliminated for this dish, we might have to change the name to ‘divorce me pasta’.”

Now executive chef at Huso in New York, Lo is looking for his own dining space where he can focus on achieving his next goal. “I hope to get three Michelin stars one day,” he says. “It all starts with a goal, right? »

Deployment of the 50 food favorites

Deployment of the 50 food favorites

Jen Causey

Rigatoni Amatriciana

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 oz. guanciale or pancetta, chopped
1⁄2 cup finely chopped red shallots (about 2 medium shallots)
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme, plus leaves for garnish
1 C. powdered red peppers
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tbsp)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 can (28 oz) whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes, undrained
1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
1 lb uncooked rigatoni
4 oz. pecorino romano cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the guanciale; cook until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small bowl and set aside, leaving the melted fat in the pot.

2. Add shallots, thyme, crushed red pepper and 1⁄4 tsp salt to drippings in Dutch oven; cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until shallots are tender, translucent and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly to avoid burning, about 30 seconds more. Stir in canned tomatoes and remove from heat.

3. Cover and place Dutch oven in preheated oven; cook until oil separates from tomatoes, about 45 minutes. Use a spoon to mash tomatoes into a sauce. Stir in crispy guanciale, black pepper and remaining 1⁄4 tsp salt in Dutch oven until all ingredients are incorporated.

4. Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni until just al dente according to package directions. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the pasta directly to the Dutch oven, reserving the pasta water. Place Dutch oven over low heat; toss the pasta into the sauce. Add 1/4 cup pasta water as needed to help loosen the sauce. Stir gently until sauce evenly coats pasta, about 20 seconds. Garnish with finely grated pecorino, thyme leaves; drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil.

Serves: 6
active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes