By Haley Steinhauser
Chef Pasquale Langella is known to be a celebrity of sorts in the Hamptons, located on eastern Long Island in New York. From meeting the past three United States Presidents through catering events to explaining to Martha Stuart that she can only buy two containers of his cheese, Chef Langella’s mozzarella cheese is truly a hot commodity.
Yet when it comes to celebrities, his statement is clear: “I give them their privacy and I like mine.” As a part owner of the Red Horse Market in East Hampton, Chef Langella has created the most sought after mozzarella in the South Fork. But who really is the man behind the cheese?
Chef Langella preparing a new batch of fresh mozzarella
Chef Langella was born in Pellegrini, Italy, a town located next to Pompeii and just outside of Naples. He still has fond memories of his hometown. Langella comes from a large family, having four older sisters and three brothers. When I asked about Pellegrini, he spoke about his appreciation of the lifestyle. “I learned how to do everything A to Z.” He and his family lived off their land, where everything was natural. There was a sense of self-sufficiency, which is very different from his life in the United States. He lived in Italy until he was 14 years old, and during this time he learned how to make his renowned mozzarella from his grandmother Maria. He was the only grandchild who learned how to make it.
In 1973, Chef Langella moved to Queens, New York with his mother, father, and younger brother with the hopes of a better life. He got married when he was 19 years old and had his first son, Michael, at age 20. He later had a daughter, Natalie, and is now the proud grandfather to five grandchildren—Liliana, Mateo, Niko, Lucas, and Logan. This led to the obvious question: “have any of your children or grandchildren learned how to make the mozzarella?!” Unfortunately, no one in the lineage has been interested in learning how to perfect the family’s recipe. When I asked if he would pass down his recipe to someone else so it doesn’t die with him, he responded firmly “it’s a family trade, not about to give it up.” Fair enough Chef Langella, fair enough. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that one of his five grandchildren uncovers their love for mozzarella soon.
Part of the reason not many are interested is because making mozzarella cheese is a much harder job than one may expect. In order to achieve the perfect consistency, Chef Langella puts the cheese in 190-degree Fahrenheit water with his bare hands. The burns on his hands tell the story of his hard work. I asked if his body has gotten used to temperatures by now, but he reassured me that he feels the burn every day. A day in the life of Pasquale Langella exemplifies hard work and passion. He leaves his house at 4:30 A.M. each morning and commutes slightly over an hour to the Red Horse Market, and he begins to make his mozzarella around 5:30 A.M. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays he makes anywhere from 300 to 400 pounds of his famous cheese. On Thursdays he makes at least 400 pounds, on Fridays and Saturdays he cranks out a whopping 600 to 700 pounds, and on Sundays he returns to a “modest” 400 to 500 pounds of mozzarella. That is hands-on, all day every day. He proudly added that his new record was recently 756 pounds in one day.
Chef Langella has always thought of himself as an entrepreneur and businessman, having opened a pizzeria and restaurant in 1982. After this, he worked for Citarella for many years. Then, in 2005, Langella partnered with Jeff Lange and Pedro Pineda as the executive head chef to open the Red Horse Market, which is now one of the most popular food spots throughout the Hamptons.
Chef Langella loves the trade and the life he has created for himself in the United States. As he thrives as an owner of his own establishment, he clearly shares his passion in every piece of mozzarella he makes.