RESPECT THE CRAFT
Pizza is simple. It’s dough, tomato, cheese, and toppings. But as someone who has devoted more than half of my life to it, I can tell you that, like all really great, really simple things, pizza is infinite. I’m still learning, still refining, still trying to make it even better every single day. And what I can tell you for sure is that pizza doesn’t come down to just recipes or formulas. It’s a craft.
That one word—that’s why I wanted to write this book. There are hundreds of pizza books, blogs, and websites filled with thousands of recipes out there. Do we really need another one? I thought about this a lot, and here’s where I ended up: when I teach home cooks and certify chefs and pizzaiolos
, it’s less about recipes and more about inspiring people to master the craft of pizza—the techniques, the reasons to choose one ingredient over another, the art of “reading” the dough as you mix, shape, top, and bake it.
Anyone can hand you a pizza recipe, and if that recipe is halfway decent, chances are you can make yourself a perfectly good pizza for dinner tonight in your own kitchen with no special equipment and not much preparation. But that’s not where I want to take you. I want to get you all the way to five-star, killer-pizzeria-quality pizza.
I want you to master any style you love—whether it’s Chicago deep-dish or cracker-thin, a big, fluffy Sicilian pan pizza or a classic Neapolitan margherita with that authentic char blistering the edges—right in your own kitchen with whatever oven you’ve got.
Is that really possible? Can you actually do all that without a real pizza oven? That’s the question I get asked most often. Believe it or not, you can. It’s not your oven. It’s the ingredients and the techniques you use, and I’m going to give you every piece of ingredient and technique advice you’ll need to succeed.
But if you truly want to get all the way to rocking restaurant-style pizza at home, there’s one thing I’m going to ask you to commit to. It’s the motto that runs across the front of my menu, and the three words etched on the door of my restaurants. Hey, I even had it tattooed right onto my hands. Respect the craft.
Craft is the difference between good and great. It takes a few extra steps, the right equipment, a little more time, and a fair amount of practice. But if you’re up for it, the payoff is golden.
So I’m going to start by asking you to try something a little unusual for a cookbook. I want you to read all the way through page 19 before you try a single recipe. And then I’m inviting you to take a Master Class where we make your first pizza together—and maybe even take that class a few more times before you graduate to trying all the great stuff in the rest of the book and eventually coming up with your own variations and improvisations.
That’s what I mean by respecting the craft and getting a handle on the whys and hows behind it. It might sound a little back-to-schooly. But trust me, it’ll be fun. And you get to eat the final exam.
Want more information and inspiration? Check out my blog at ThePizzaBible.com.
Copyright © 2014 by Tony Gemignani. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.