Marshalltown native expands New York-based pasta company

Where are they now?

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Scott Ketchum, left, a native of Marshalltown, and his business partner Steve Gonzalez, have recently expanded their pasta business — Sfoglini — whose products are made using only high-quality, organic U.S. raised grains.

WEST COXSACKIE, N.Y. — Getting to eat, sleep and breathe all things pasta has become a reality for Scott Ketchum. A native of Marshalltown, he and business partner Steve Gonzalez have recently expanded their pasta business — Sfoglini — whose products are made using only high-quality, organic U.S. raised grains. Their 37,000-square-foot facility, located in West Coxsackie, New York, serves consumers across the United States and patrons in swank hotels in New York City.

The son of Jerry and Karen Ketchum, he graduated from Marshalltown High School in 1989, going on to earn a degree in graphic design from Iowa State University.

“I then moved to San Francisco and worked as a designer for companies, doing corporate identity work and website design, then in 2001, I ended up moving to New York,” Ketchum said.

Having an interest in entering the food and beverage industry, he made the acquaintance of Gonzalez, forming Sfoglini in 2012. Gonzalez has experience working as a chef, and he heads the pasta production, while Ketchum manages the business.

“We focus on creating all organic pastas made with grains only grown in the United States. We focus on the quality of the grains and the farms, as well as pushing for better farming practices. We produce a number of traditional semolina pastas, but we also use a lot of unique shapes that people haven’t seen in a while,” Ketchum said.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Sfoglini makes 26 varieties, including pastas made with organic whole-grain, rye, emmer, einkorn and spelt flours. It also offers a line of seasonal pastas made with fresh, local ingredients.

They first opened their business in a 4,000-square foot building in Brooklyn (the site of an old Pfizer pharmaceutical outfit), but soon found themselves longing for a larger facility.

“A little over a year ago, we planned for expansion and purchased new equipment from Italy and moved out to West Coxsackie, which is in the Hudson Valley, and is closer to the farms and the millers we work with,” he said. “Previously, we produced 1,000 pounds of pasta a day, and now we do 1,200 pounds per hour.”

How does the new pasta making machine work?

“It’s a pasta extruder. It’s kind of like a huge Play-Doh machine, and we put a bronze die on the machine, and it has a tool insert that creates the unique shapes,” he said. “The reason you want the die to be bronze, is that metal gives the surface of the pasta a little more rough of a texture, which helps the pasta cling to and absorb the sauce. When you see pastas out there that are slick and smooth, they’re usually created with Teflon, which is cheaper.”

Sfoglini makes 26 varieties including pastas made with organic whole-grain, rye, emmer, einkorn and spelt flours. It also offers a line of seasonal pastas made with fresh, local ingredients. It employs a staff of 20.

“We have a retail line that is available in stores and we’re starting to ship across the nation now with the new facility,” he said. “We have a store finder on our website and we sell on Amazon and to food service companies in the New York area.”

Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark, Chef’s Club by Food & Wine and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel restaurants all serve Sfoglini pasta.

“The hotels are great to work with. They have a need to keep their pasta making capacity at a certain level, but it’s hard to find the staff to really operate that inside a hotel,” he said.

Where does the company’s distinctive name came from?

“It’s named after the pasta makers in Italy in the Bologna area where the household or restaurant would have a sfoglini — the person who makes the pasta — and they typically pass down their skills from generation to generation,” Ketchum said.

To learn more, visit www.sfoglini.com

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at (641) 753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com