Italian style and New Zealand flavour meet in Emilie Pullar’s beautiful handmade pasta.


Here in her first-floor studio overlooking one of the liveliest sections of Auckland’s Karangahape Rd, Emilie Pullar is preparing for her forthcoming photo shoot. But there’s not a crumb of food in sight. Instead, it’s her winter clothes collection for the label Maaike that Emilie’s readying for the cameras. Tonight she will go home and devote herself to her other ‘full-time’ job: that as the maker and creator of The Burnt Butter Table, an Instagram site offering pasta tutorials and recipes.

Her passion for fashion is mirrored in her kitchen creations. As with her outfits, her pastas are bold; for example the fuchsia-pink swirls in her ravioli and tortellini, which is thanks to the judicious use of beetroot as colouring. These are deliciously seductive shots that truly inspire followers to get into the kitchen and wrap their hands around their own dough, thanks to Emilie’s online tutelage.“I pull a lot of my fashion brain into pasta – in the patterns and in the plating. I think they sit together beautifully,” says Emilie. “I love draping my fabrics straight onto a mannequin. And I like working with handkerchief pasta – the big sheets.”

Maaike – which she co-owns with business partner Abby van Schreven – is 12 years old. Burnt Butter was born when the country first went into lockdown in March 2020. Maaike was thus put on pause, Emilie had time on her hands and so she decided to indulge her lifelong love of matters Italian. It was time to slow down, she adds, explaining that pasta-making is as much meditative as it is a provider of fuel. “We rush, rush, rush because we’re so busy, but when I’m rolling and kneading that dough, I’m just trying to be in the moment.”

She had toyed with the notion of being a chef while at high school, but fashion school in Christchurch won out. Her pasta-making prowess is purely self-taught, save for a session in Tuscany with a nonna who shared with her the secrets of tiramisu and pasta. It’s a skill she now imparts online with words that encourage and clips that inspire. Emilie makes it look so easy, and the fact that she’s not a professional encourages others, she believes. “I want to teach people that it can be done. People [initially] find it so intimidating, but it really is easy, if you have the time and the patience.” It also helps to have the right-sized eggs.

Currently Emilie devotes evenings and weekends to her Instagram platform and the rest of the week to Maaike. “Fashion is my career, but I will definitely continue to do both.” Burnt Butter – named because she simply loves the taste of burnt butter (it features prominently in her dishes) – has more than 15,000 followers. As that number continues to grow, so does Emilie’s resolve to make Burnt Butter a regular feature of her life. After all, she says, there’s no limit to pasta recipes. “There are always new combinations; new ones to try. All you need is a few simple ingredients and you have something magic.” Follow @burntbuttertable on Instagram. GERALDINE JOHNS