Skip to main content

Roy Elam’s $13 Pasta Cutter Wheel

Roy Elam is the chef-owner of Donna Jean, a vegan restaurant he opened six years ago in San Diego and recently expanded to Los Angeles. Named for his dearly departed mother — who inspired Elam to start his own establishment, as well as to explore the health and wellness benefits of a plant-based diet — the restaurant focuses on pizza and pasta, among other seasonal comfort foods.

SPY caught up with Elam to ask him about the one tool he uses every day that doesn’t break the bank: Happy Sales’ Pastry and Pasta Cutter Wheel.

What’s the attraction to this pasta cutter?

I’ve tried the more expensive pasta cutters, like the brass ones which cost 60 bucks. They just get caught on the pasta dough. This cheap little thing works better than the more expensive one, in my experience. You can get a whole lot done for very little money. 

The brass pasta cutters sure look cool. Why don’t they work as well?

For whatever reason, as you’re going through the very first part of the pasta dough, it’ll get caught on the wheel and go back up inside it while you’re rolling. I have to do this two-hand motion to hold down one side of the dough while I’m cutting it. But with the cheap pasta cutter, it’s just like, zoop! You don’t have to worry about anything. 

So you’ve tried both?

I started with the cheap one because that’s what I could afford. Then, I started looking at all these fancy chefs using these brass tools, and I said, “Oh, I need one of those!” Then I got it and I thought, “This thing doesn’t work as well.” It takes a little bit more effort. And then you also have to oil it so it won’t be squeaky when you’re using it. It seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. I’ll just stick with the cheap guy. I’ve had the same one for five years, and it still works fine. 

You must cut a lot of pasta.

Oh yeah. Right now we’re making agnolotti. In our two restaurants, we sell hundreds of agnolotti dishes a week. I have a couple of these low-cost pasta cutters, and they do the work. 

Other than looking cool, what’s the supposed advantage of the brass pasta cutters?

One difference is the ridges. I know on the brass cutter the ridges are a little bit bigger and more pronounced, so they look a little nicer. But you can get cheap cutters that have larger ridges, too. Mostly, it just seems like more of a hassle to use the more expensive cutters, so I regret buying one. I could have saved my money.

Seems like a classic difference between a home cook who doesn’t mind fiddling around with the pasta and a fancy tool, versus a restaurant setting where you have to work fast. 

We need speed, efficiency, and a tool that’s going to do what it’s supposed to do without a lot of fuss. 

So what happened to the brass cutter you bought?

I still keep the brass one in my knife bag, but I don’t ever pull it out anymore. I keep the cheap ones at my restaurants because they’re the ones that work. 

Courtesy of Amazon

$12.99 $14.99

Buy Now On Amazon