Good Question: Who Invented Penne alla Vodka?

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Dear Kitcheners,

Paula Franzese (a lecturer with a company that gets future lawyers ready to sit for the bar exam), claimed in a lecture that her father invented Penne alla Vodka while working as a chef in an NYC restaurant in the 1970s. Could this be true? Does anyone know who invented the dish? When? Where?


(photo: accompanies a Penne alla Vodka recipe at

Dear Sarah,

We asked two prominent food historians, and neither knew the answer, although referred us to the Wikipedia entry that we'd also found, which mentions Paula Franzese and her claim that her father, Luigi, invented Penne alla Vodka when he had a flask of vodka on him and needed to thin a sauce.

The entry adds "However, most historians of the culinary arts credit Chef James Doty with the discovery of the dish."

There is also a list on of references to vodka in sauces that might be of interest.

Arthur Schwartz also refers to the invention of the dish in the headnote to his recipe, but does not mention any names or specific dates beyond "the mid '70s."


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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.