Pizza Construction Specialist

My pizza is being made at Farrelli’s and sold to fund a cooking scholarship!

Pizza in the wood fired oven

Pizza in the wood fired oven

Let’s start at the beginning: Ted signed himself and me up for pizza school this year. The locally owned Farrelli’s Pizza chain in the South Sound offered a three-class course in pizza construction. Farrelli’s started with one store but has expanded to six so far, all located in Tacoma or farther south. Their combination gas and wood fired ovens allow them to control temperature while imparting that wonderful smoky taste.

Pizza 101 taught us to make the crust. Chefs Clayton and Mike had us throwing dough in the air in no time. Mike is a certified pizzaiolo and a kind and patient teacher, and he and Clayton clearly love their work, love teaching, and love pizza.

Pizza 202 focused on toppings. Farrelli’s stocks an amazing variety of ingredients – any customer can order a pizza made of any combination. We learned how much sauce to use (I was using too much), how various cheeses perform, what to add after the pizza leaves the oven. Then we got the chance to bake our pizzas right in the Farrelli’s oven.

The course finished with a flourish. Pizza 303 was a judged pizza contest with the chance for the top two winning pizzas to be featured on the menu. Last year’s winners were an All American pizza and a blueberry-based dessert pizza.

After Pizza 202 I spent some time thinking about what to make. I knew I wanted to spotlight a local ingredient. I picked Uli’s Sausage because Silver City Brewery features Uli’s andouille in their Brewer’s Special pizzas. As soon as I saw the Uli’s bratwurst I said, that’s it! I’ll make an Oktoberfest pizza!

I stopped by Marina Market in Poulsbo to pick up the sauerkraut, german mustard, and Uli’s brats. Back home I tried a lot of combinations, using pita bread as the crust so I could concentrate on getting the flavor profile right, before I finally settled on the winning combination.

At the contest Chef Mike very kindly threw the dough for all of us. That let us focus on our toppings and gave everyone an even playing field. We worked in the line alongside the uniformly supportive cooks. Ted’s pizza made with smoked salmon from Crimson Cove in Poulsbo was the chef’s favorite, they loved the way it smelled and looked and tasted.

Making the pizza

Making the pizza

After our pizzas came out of the oven we presented them to the judges: Margaret and John Farrell, a chef from the WRA, and Clayton. They asked us what our inspiration was for the pizza. I told the story about my Czech grandparents taking me to the Oktoberfest when I was a kid and drinking beer while I ate brats. I felt just like one of the contestants on Food Network contest shows.

At the end of the night Clayton announced the winners. Third place went to Will, a charming and confident 12-year-old whose pizza narrowly missed the menu. In second place, with a spot on the specials menu…the Oktoberfest pizza! I was so surprised, I thought it needed more sauerkraut. I knew the pizza was too much of a specialty item to make it as the grand prize winner, but the chefs found a marketing niche for it. And hey, all those hours of watching Food Network finally paid off!

The Farrelli’s chefs said they’ll have me back down to the store to watch the chefs as they make the pizza to make sure they’re turning out more or less the pizza I made. Proceeds of the sales of the pizza benefit the 2010 Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation Pro-Start Farrelli’s Scholarship, awarded to a top high school student in vocational culinary training.

Also, I got a cool black chef’s hat. I’m a certified pizza construction specialist, with the pizza on the menu to prove it!

Oktoberfest pizza!

Oktoberfest pizza!

Oktoberfest Pizza
Shop:
Marina Market has the sauerkraut, mustard and brats for this pizza!
Prep:
Chop onions and fry in butter or oil until brown (caramelized).
Fry in butter or oil two bratwurst sausages on all four sides to an internal temperature of 165. Cut into 1/2 inch wide rounds and fry both sides of the rounds just until brown.
Grate mozzarella cheese.
Assembly:
Using a pastry brush, paint the dough or bread lightly with German mustard. Add caramelized onions and saurekraut. Top with mozzarella cheese. Place sausage on cheese and sprinkle the whole pie with carraway seeds. Heat until the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. Finish with a grating of parmesan.

Links:
Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza
Marina Market
WRA Scholarships
Silver City Brewery


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