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Anyone here a Pizza Maker (or have been)?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just curious to know if anyone around here is a pie tosser?

I've been doing it for about 6 or 7 years now, just took over as the head Pizzaiolo at the place I've been working at for the past, well, almost 3 months now...now that I have their pizza station in check and headed in the right direction...they are giving me some time on the line, which up until now I've never really had much interest in...mostly, I think, because I've always been consumed with pizza (and working in typical pizzerias- i.e, not a lot of real cooking going on in a pizzeria...). Now I work at a restaurant that serves fine Italian food (one of the better fine dining establishments in town) and I can finally see how good food is done and done proper.

My interest in food, cooking, and cooking as a profession has totally been reignited. Through the roof. I've made a huge point to put myself out there to my exec, head sous and head saute cook (even the owner) to let them know how hungry I am to learn and hone my skills. It has been paying off. For the past week, literally every day I come into work there is a new book or some kind of reading material left for me to chew on. Every time someone is doing some prep (breaking down cuts of meat, making sauces and such) that they think may be beneficial for me to learn, they drag me away from what I'm doing to show me. I'm really kinda blown away...just never worked with a crew so happy and willing to teach me how to cook and help steer me and my career on a new path.

****, I really got off on a tangent there. Sorry...I get kind of excited thinking about all of this. Feels like I'm getting paid for a crash culinary course. hah.

But seriously, I wanted to put a call out to see if any of you have ever worked as a pizza maker and have any great ideas to bounce off of me. I always need great pie ideas to put up for the nightly specials. If it makes any difference, I have redirected the restaurant to serve a strictly NY style pie, with 'as honest as possible' true, Italian/Neapolitan style flavors/toppings etc. If that makes any sense. Authentic NY style crust with authentic Italian flavors.

If you have some awesome, off the wall pie recipes ( and don't mind sharing), please hit me up.

Thanks again everyone,

Dave
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post #2 of 16
Not to make it all about me, but do you want to give me a great dough recipe? Ive never been able to get it quite right..I think any topping I can come up with right now youve prolly done before, but Ill be thinking about this today..
post #3 of 16
It's thrilling to hear someone so excited about their job and taking control of their career path.

So, you're being mentored, brought along by the owner, and being shown what a great value you are to the business. You've got a great situation there.

There was another thread last week where someone talked about how he was being hazed in his new job, burned with sheet pans, cut with knives, etc. The forum all chimed in with their tales of abuse in the kitchen, and all seemed to think this was just part of the job. I couldn't disagree more. Your story proves that there are owners out there who value a great staff member.

At one place I worked, we did a folded shrimp pizza. Rub the naked pizza crust with minced garlic and ricotta cheese. Add grilled u-20 shrimp, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and fresh basil concassee. It was baked, then folded in half like a calzone, and cut into triangle pieces. The pieces are stacked, plated nicely with fresh tomato dipping sauce. Great seller.

Next time I'm in Wilm, I'm coming for a slice. Again, I'm so glad to hear someone love their job and be rewarded for the value they add to the company. Your owner is a good guy.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
ianman, I can give you a few excellent dough recipes for you to play around with...which one is best suited to you depends on a few variables. Do you need a big, commercial recipe (like for batches using 50lb bags of flour), or are you looking for something you can use at home? Also if its for work, what type of oven are you using, what temp are you baking pies at, etc...same goes for a home recipe, do you have a stone, or at least some cheap unglazed quarry tile you can throw in the oven, or is it going in a pan? I know it sounds a little frivolous, but temps, cooking mediums, etc, all play a role on how you should formulate a dough recipe (which, I think, is where a lot of 'universal' dough recipes you run into on the net fail/fall short). Some things that work great on an NY style brick cooking at 500-600 degrees don't work at all when you're working a wood fired oven cooking over well over 700. PM me and let me know. Ill get you a recipe to suit your needs.

Chefmohr, Thank you. I've been thinking about doing a stuffed slice type thing and that sounds really good. Thanks again for the kind words. I've caught a little hazing as I've put myself out there as a rookie...but definitely no burning with sheet pans...just a little ****talking, all in good fun. Clearly, no one has any ill intent. I want to go back and read that thread now...makes me feel bad just hearing about it. My crew is taking really good care of me. I've been given books to read (the pro. chef, everyday french cooking, some material by Macella Hazan...), shown fundamentals, totally been taken under their collective wing. Feels great...feels even better knowing how to work every station in the restaurant. Also, please drop by and have a meal next time you're in the port city. PM me and I'll let you know where I'm at. I will make sure you receive the best we have to offer.

Thanks.
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post #5 of 16

pizza

although pizza never went "out of style" it seems to be making a resurgence especially the "napolitiano" style brick oven pizza. Unfortunately NY slice pizza went downhill for many years with cheap cheese and nasty canned sauce and a lot less love going in the slices.

That said I have had some excellent pizzas lately from "newish" sources.
The one that comes to mind is Zero Otto Nove - newish Neapolitan joint on Arthur Avenue in The Bronx which is set in "Salerno"
the pizzas we had (for "dessert" mind you after a staggeringly great dinner at their sister restaurant Robertos' around the corner) were porcini mushroom with potato and fresh mozzarella made locally
and
thinly julienned hot sopressata with a diablo sauce and fresh mozzarella. Both were EXCELLENT and although the 4 of us were stuffed from dinner we scarfed down both fairly large sized pies - with thin crusts nicely charred etc.

in the 80's I remember cooking a grilled pizza - somewhere I still have the recipe clipped from the NYT's from some chef in New England - famous at the time but the name escapes me... The dough is somewhat sturdier for the grilling and that gave way to some great options
you could do some seasonal pizzas
so for the fall use sauteed kale roasted garlic

grilled or roasted sweet potatoes with a maple chili infusion,

grilled + smoked tomatoes with pepato cheese

butter sautted apple fresh sage + (some exotic) mushrooms
with touch of fontina cheese or even brie

white beans, rosemary + some great housemade sausage

caramelized onions with lemon thyme + black salty cured olives.

these are not traditional pizzas but heck think of it as a glorified crostini
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post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Amazing. This is the kind of thing I was looking for all along. Exactly the style pie my place is serving too. Some of the ones I've done lately are like...

-roasted garlic oil, oven roasted and then crushed roma tomato, roasted garlic, oregano, then extra virgin olive oil on after it come outs.
-roasted garlic oil, caramalized onion, a shredded mozz, speck, and topped with fontina
-red sauce with fresh mozz made in house, prosciutto par-baked then an egg is cracked on top and finishes cooking so you get that sunny side up type thing, topped with garlic chive

try some of those for a spin...they were all excellent.

Thanks again for the great suggestions...I really wanna try the sweet potato one now..
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post #7 of 16
yo dishdave I think you should pack your bags and head west to Orygun i've got a job waiting for you!!!! Man, how refreshing to hear someone with that kind of pride and passion in what they do. I wish I had a whole crew with your train of thought....This biz can really be a grind and i have to keep finding things to ignite my passion for cooking and allows me to deal with the not so fun side of the biz......Roasted chicken, Goat Cheese, Carmilized Red Onion, Balsamic Reduction drizzle YUM......I NEED ME A PIE....:thumb:....keep on rockin' dishdave
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hey thanks, I really appreciate that. I dunno...I guess the past few years I've gotten bored with work being in strictly pizzerias...that serve great pies of course, but **** food. After starting my new job...a few weeks in, once I got comfortable and started to get in the zone...I guess it just hit me. I love my job. I love cooking and it is so great to be mentored and taught how to do things I've been trying in my kitchen at home for years. Being respected and treated like a professional is so refreshing. I'm happy to put in hours for these people (even if i ***** and moan a little when it's time to get out of bed, hah). I've been reading The Professional Chef, Everyday French Cooking, stuff by Macella Hazan...burning this forum up. I totally got my groove back...food is exciting again like it was when I was 17 and started out (even though I was just washing dishes...and sneaking into the kitchen every chance I got to help someone out).

Of course there's a lot to grind on you when you spend 40+...+++ hours in a kitchen every week. It gets to everyone. I happen to be lucky enough to work for a chef, owner, and sous that encourage creativity and playing around with recipes and making things work, or even just work better. I hope this buzz lasts.

But actually, I've been planning a move in the next few months or so...and Portland is exactly where I want to land when I'm done wandering the country and taking my sweet time getting there. If and when I make it out there, I'm down for whatever.

And thanks for the pie idea. That sounds so good...makes me kinda wish today wasn't my day off or I'd be diggin' through the walk-in right now. hah.

Thanks again.
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post #9 of 16

san marzano tomatoes

Don't know if you have had the opportunity to test run SAN MARZANO canned tomatoes - it's the region of italy where they are grown and the type of roma tomato - less seeds - meatier, low acidity (I think but somebody will probably jump in with the total skinny here) i

IN ANY CASE - the taste difference for red sauce and pizzas in particular is AMAZING and worth the price difference - it's kind of like rice and basmati rice - more expensive but still affordable especially if you are cooking in an upscale kinda joint...

OK here's a quote from the city cook city cook
"San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the Campania region of Italy, near Naples, where pizza originated so these folks know their tomatoes. It's said that the tomatoes are special because they grow in the shadow of Mount Versuvius, famed for destroying Pompeii, in fields that are rich in volcanic soil. The warm sunny weather, stable climate, and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea probably don't hurt, either.

These are plum tomatoes, but thinner and a bit pointier than the ones we see fresh in our local markets, with a nib at the tip. The skin is thick and easy to peel, and when fresh and ripe, the tomatoes are a dark, almost brownish red. I've had the chance to shop vegetable markets in southern Italy and once bought a bag of fresh San Marzanos, turning them into a quick-cooked pasta sauce. Both when eaten raw with a touch of sea salt, or after a few minutes of cooking in a drizzle of locally processed olive oil, their flavor was very close to those that are canned: a strong tomato taste, less sweet yet not too acid, with few seeds and a meatier flesh."



Here is NYC you can get them in large tins wholesale from Sapori d'Ischia
in woodside queens - don't know if they ship and it doesn't say "san marzano" on the can but it's grown on Ischia (great food there by the way - we went last year - it's the smaller island near capri near naples) and the difference will blow you away.
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Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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post #10 of 16
I hesitate to post since I've never been just a pizza guy, but I've made a lot of pizzas. I used to work as Sous for a place that stretched a lot of pies, although we used frozen doughs that we proofed. The place I'm at now makes the dough from scratch but buys the cheeses (no making our own mozz). Our oven is gas but it's a very nice one and runs really hot. Not quite hot enough for "real Napoli", if there really is such a thing, but at the edges you get some nice char if not really a lot of leaparding on the bottom.

Lately I've been getting really interested handcrafting pizza outside of work. I dunno if any of you are regulars at PizzaMaking.com, but there's an inspirational thread about the "Little Black Egg", a Weber hybrid pizza oven that gets up over 900 degrees. I'm really wanting to build my own.

Sorry to veer OT- best of luck with your quest to master the art of the perfect pie!
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ill be putting that into my list of notes for the next kitchen meeting. Need to see if one of our purveyors carries them.

Currently I am making my sauce with Stanislaus (7-11 and Full Red) brand products, which I am not very fond of. I've been pressing the chef to see how cost effective it would be to switch brands but I think its one of those things that's fallen to the way side in favor of more pressing matters. They are not nearly as sweet as Escalon products (6-n-1 and Bella Rossa) which are picked and canned right away, at the peak of ripeness, without acetic acid. Less/no acid in the can=sweeter, richer tomato flavor - which is the key to an ***kicking pizza sauce (uncooked, sweet tomato). I currently have to add about a cup and a half of sugar to my 16qt sauce recipe to get it how I want it, which is just way too much. I also just started adding a little pasted anchovy and you'd be surprised how much body and richness it adds to the flavor.

Ok, got off on bit of a tangent. Hah.

You've been very informative and helpful. Thank you so much.
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post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
I lurk pizzamaking.com all the time. Don't post too much, have been consumed with these boards lately.

Unfortunately, I live in a small town and most of my customers can't appreciated a proper pizza. People order 'well done' pizzas all the time and then complain that they are burnt. Go figure. If I put a char around the crust my customers would not be very happy. People don't really understand that pizza is less about toppings and how many artery clogging meats you can load on a pie and more about the crust. Much like the pasta to the sauce type thing. But of course, I work in the service industry, and my job, above all others, is to give the customer what they want and try my best to give them what they need. Hah.

Haven't heard of that oven before, but I'll be checking it out soon...I'm very interested now.

Thanks for the info!

-Dave
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post #13 of 16
It's a DIY deal but really interesting. When I found that thread I read it all in one sitting- 2 years and 40 pages worth, all at once!:lol: I just couldn't stop myself. I'm not really a pizza fanatic but I appreciate a good pie, probably enough to make my own LBE. Besides, there are plenty of uses for a cooker that can hit 1,000 degrees F!:thumb:
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Oh, BTW, I made one of these for the crew a few days ago, with the addition of some chopped broccoli rabe on top....it was a winner. Chef wants to go to the market and get some goat MEAT (go braised and shredded, like pulled pork kinda) and take it to the next level.

So awesome, thank you.
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post #15 of 16
I just started a culinary career as a pizza maker.

I got a job two months ago at a great restaurant manning the forno oven. I make flatbreads and sandwiches as well as pizzas. Everyday I get to create a special pizza - and that has been invaluable. I have tons of ingredients to work with (we specialize in a homey southwestern cuisine with lots of local game - bison, elk, tenderloin.)

Tonight I'm making a peppered duck breast pizza with a brie crust and sun-dried cherries!
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Working on specials is a great way to get your juices flowing and keep the drag of everyday 'work/crap' in the kitchen at bay. Keeps me on my toes. Some specials have been successes and some have been utter failures (all in terms of sales...I thought they all tasted amazing, haha) but that's how it goes. I've even had one of my specials find a permanent spot on the menu. That's a pretty good feeling.

That duck breast pie sounds amazing. I swear, I've been making pizza for almost ten years now and I'm still not sick of pizza. Always one of my favorite foods.

...but anyway, if you enjoy making pizzas that much (and sounds like you're pretty new to the game) you should just keep on making pizzas. I just had a little epiphany this week. I've been running myself ragged trying to learn everything I can about saute (or really Italian cooking/cuisine) and completely lost my focus on what I do best...making pies. A good pizzaiolo is indispensable, and having that skill can almost certainly ensure you a job at any pizza place you show up at. In seven years now, almost all of my interviews have been almostly exclusively a short talk then I get behind the line and make a pizza and have to really show your chops.

Feels like I'm going on and on about this, but I actually just wrote a blog entry about this. There's a lot about pizza making to be proud of, when you do it well, you have an amazing talent. Sure, I want to expand my skill set as much as possible, and constantly be learning something...but a good pizza maker is what I am and in the midst of trying to learn other stations/jobs in my restaurant, I lost my focus on pizza. I put a LOT of work into getting this place's pizza service done right, I lost my focus for a minute and this entire past week has been a disaster. I belong by the ovens.

Oh yeah, my newest special, 'Care of' leftover beef tenderloin chain:

Pesto Base, Fresh chopped broccoli rabe, light mozz, steak, gorgonzola crumbles.

It's good stuff.


ALSO, if you guys have any more pizza ideas, keep them coming. I always need some inspiration. This has been a great place to get it.

Check my blog out...after having gone back and read through it lately, it all sounds kind of kryptic and weird because I've been writing in the wee hours of the morning, exhausted from work and everything else, but either way, it's there to be read. Leave comments, too. And if anyone else out there keeps a blog about their professional/work life, I would love to exchange links with any of you.
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