Pia Arrobio Wants All the Ragù alla Bolognese

“I want to be in any kitchen that smells good and has wine.”

Great Ones is a celebration of humans we admire — and an exploration of why they cook, not just how. Pia Arrobio, the creative director of the clothing line LPA (which stands for Lara Pia Arrobio), is also a limoncello pro, the mother of a 60-pound bulldog named Ciro, and recently bilingual (she's learning Italian). At her Pasadena home, which she shares with her husband, Davide, she showed us to how make her beloved bolognese recipe.

When I was growing up, my mom and I would open up cookbooks and pick out recipes. My dad was a great cook, too; I still get the same cuts of meat he always used to get. For Christmas we always do a whole roast that we dry ourselves and cook for hours. My mom would make really elaborate, intense, beautiful things — beautiful fish and roast chicken. I was like, “Can I just have a hot dog in my lunch?” But she gave us turkey and sprouts. She just always wanted us to eat like Europeans, as she’s Danish.

My mom has always been so elegant and an incredible cook. She used to test me on various cooking terms, making it clear, at a young age, the value of knowing your way around a kitchen. Her meals brought family and friends from near and far, and set the tone for our home. Her creativity extends from sewing to making her own cocktails. She inspired me to create for a living.

Creating LPA has been a journey. I was lost, not knowing where to go after I had a job I couldn’t grow into. I got offered a big job at Zara, and after I accepted I was approached by Revolve to launch a private-label brand for them. It was weird and magical and scary, and I didn’t know which one to choose, but, ultimately, I knew having my own thing was something I couldn’t turn down. I had been training my whole life for this moment.

When I met my now-husband, Davide (over Instagram DM!), I would go to New York and stay with him, and I remember us getting along and having this nice thing. He said, “You’re going to fall in love with me when I make you pasta.” And he made me pasta, and I was like, Oh my god. He can make pasta out of anything. Usually, I’ll have him make something delicious, and then I’ll make broccoli or a healthy mousse. You can make it, too: two eggs, one bag of sugar-free chocolate chips, hot coffee (or decaf) — and blend all together at once.

He said, “You’re going to fall in love with me when I make you pasta.”

I want to be in any kitchen that smells good and has wine. I grew up in a house where I had Sunday dinners. We’re starting to throw a lot of dinner parties. I think the key is family-style feasting, not a sit-down meal. If it’s more than ten people, use paper plates! A huge salad. A huge bowl of pasta. A shit-ton of charcuterie. I love salad and pasta together. I like the crispy freshness of leaves with the pasta.

In Big Deal, I made ragù alla bolognese. It’s easy to make ... after you fuck it up a couple of times. It’s classic and simple, but the simplest things are often the hardest! You have to get good canned tomatoes and good ground beef, lots of carrots, and cook it low and slow. Davide has it with spaghetti, and I’ll usually eat it with spaghetti squash, so we can both enjoy it. The Big Deal is a beautiful pot. It’s so smart; the measuring lines inside, the beautiful handles.

Cooking is the world’s common denominator. There isn’t a human on this planet who doesn’t have an emotional response or memory about certain tastes and smells. In a weird way, it makes me feel not so alone. My parents and my husband’s parents cooked every meal, regardless of time and money. The most important family moments for us happened around home-cooked food.

Photos by Lili Peper and Emily Sundberg

I think feeling intimidated to cook is normal if you weren’t raised by parents who taught you. But the best thing to do is just make something — anything — to start developing taste. Anyone can cook, and that’s what makes it magical.