Ben Shewry – or, as he shall henceforth be known, the Lord of Lockdown Lasagne – has been crunching the numbers.
When the Attica chef-owner started selling $60 family-sized lasagnes in March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, he was among a small group of Melbourne chefs who inadvertently created a bechamel-based boom. Just as instrumental was perhaps the King of Lockdown Lasagne, 1800 Lasagne’s Joey Kellock, who had been peddling the stuff under the radar for years.
As a result, in April 2020 Broadsheet was left with no choice but to crown the multi-layered Italian masterpiece Australia’s national crisis dish. More than a year on, though, it’s – to say the absolute least – unfortunate the crisis seems to have endured as unwaveringly as our love for lasagne.
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So much so that over the weekend, Shewry decided it was time to release the findings of his self-sanctioned Attica Lasagne Census in an Instagram post – the official medium for reports of such magnitude – which was undertaken by the Attica Bureau of Lasagne Statistics (ABLS). (This is not be confused with the more mandatory, less mouth-watering real census.)
It’s “the most comprehensive snapshot of lasagne in Australia and tells the story of how we are changing our lasagne-eating habits as a nation,” Shewry wrote in the post.
But speaking to Broadsheet, he explained the rationale behind it. “I crunched the numbers because we’ve lived and breathed lasagne these last 18 months,” he says. “It was always a super special family dish in the Shewry household growing up and it’s been a real factor in Attica’s survival.”
“We all look for comforting, familiar things during stressful times – that’s our default … as we attempt to grab hold of some semblance of a ‘normal’ life … in my opinion there are few foods that are as satisfying and reassuring as lasagne.”
Some of the most interesting facts and figures from the research are as follows. The total number of lasagnes made by Attica was 8661, a whopping 7361 kilos. That meant 1732 kilos of pasta (including 43,305 layers, which were each blanched and hand-cut), 2087 kilos of bechamel and 2771 kilos of bolognaise, and 1732 hours of lasagne-ing labour.
The report also includes some findings Broadsheet deems un-fact-check-able. “Annual growth of lasagne in Australia during the pandemic is 1,000,000 per cent.” Love the optimism. “Lasagne’s origins are Taranaki, New Zealand.” Classic (patriotic-Kiwi) Shewry. “By the end of 2021 Attica’s output of lasagne will be double the total weight of the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest lasagne made, which weighed 4865 kilos.” TBC.
Order Attica’s lasagne online as part of a pack with garlic focaccia and a green salad. It’s $60 for pick-up or $75 for delivery.