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We just completed our third annual International Symposium on Bread and the photographer dropped off the flash drive with all the photos today. So, I’ll be posting a recap and highlights in a few days, after I return from King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT, where I’ll be teaching two days from the new Perfect Pan Pizza book. Just wanted to let you know to check back next week for the recap as I start this summer’s round of posts, videos, and recipes. Thanks for your continued support!
I love the look of fermenting dough in the morning!
PS I did a long video podcast interview yesterday with Brian Hernandez of PMQ Magazine, where we talked about pretty much everything. I’ll post the link to the video as soon as Brian gives me the word. More on that soon….
This is a crazy week for me so I won’t be posting anything new, other than to let you know that on Wednesday I will be hosting about 100 people at the third annual Johnson & Wales University International Symposium on Bread (also known as On the Rise). Since it hasn’t happened yet I don’t have any photos to post yet, but I’ll put up a couple from the past two years. Then, after it ends, I’ll be back next week with a short reap and some photos of the incredible breads I foresee emerging from the workshops. Till them, please keep checking back for a recap.
I’ll end today with what I call the “Baker’s Blessing.” May your crust be crisp and your bread always rise!”
Note: This bread sculpture, made from 100% edible dough products, depicts the story of the Wright Brothers, from conception in their small bicycle shop to their first flight on Kitty Hawk, NC. This sculpture, created by my JWU colleague, Chef Harry Peemoeller, served as the emblem and centerpiece of the initial Symposium in 2017
Note from Peter: I received this very interesting article from Dr. Nikola Djordjevic that sheds valuable light on the gluten-free issue. It contains a link to a nicely done infographic that I can’t reproduce here but that you can access by clicking on the link below. As a pizza-themed site we don’t spend much time on the gluten-free segment here, but every restaurant operator, as well as most consumers, knows how crucial this issue is. Frankly, it can be a matter of life and death, and I’ve even co-written an entire book on the subject myself (“The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking”). So, as a public service and to provide a reference point for any future inquiries on the subject that come my way (or yours) feel free to refer them to this post. I want to thank Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, at MedAlertHelp.org for this article and links.
And, while we’re on the subject, for those who are looking for an excellent gluten-free pizza, I want to let you know that I recently worked with Amy’s Kitchen, the wonderful vegetarian frozen food company, to create a new generation organic gluten-free crust and frozen pizza that should be hitting the shelves in the very near future. Be on the look-out — it could be a game changer (and you don’t have to be gluten-free to enjoy it — it’s really tasty!).
Important info for all
The Gluten-Free Diet – Moving Beyond the Hype, by Dr. Nikola Djodjevic
There’s a lot of information online about what going gluten-free means. There’s also a lot of conflicting advice and some advice that is just plain incorrect. As a result, I decided that it was time to create a valuable resource that would clear up all the confusion.
I’ve done extensive research into the topic myself. Why? Because I wanted to find out what all the hype was about. The gluten-free diet has become very fashionable over the last few years but I wanted to know whether or not it was all it was cracked up to be. Furthermore, being a medical doctor, I was concerned about the idea that people were going to give up some dietary staples like wheat and oats. In the medical profession, we’re always a little skeptical about the latest fad diets that come out.
We’re all for our patients cutting back on highly processed, sugary, junk food, but we get concerned when people are talking about getting rid of whole grains that provide valuable fiber. It’s not something that we’d recommend for everyone, and, as it turns out, the gluten-free diet is not ideal for everyone. Of course, when I’d completed my research, I decided that the information should be shared. Considering that I’d pored through pages and pages of research, I knew I could write and publish a lengthy research paper. That would have been great for my fellow doctors and me, but not much good for the layperson in the street. When people go looking for answers on the gluten-free diet, they’re not looking for a thesis on the subject, they want clear, simple answers as fast as possible.
An Infographic Was the Perfect Format
That’s why my colleagues from MedAlertHelp and I decided to create a comprehensive infographic on the topic. There’s still a lot of information there, but it’s broken up into small factoids.
What’s gluten and what gluten-free really means
Who should consider following this form of diet
What foods you can eat
What foods you should avoid
What foods should never cross your lips again (spoiler alert: if you love closing off a bad day at work with a cool beer, you’re probably not going to enjoy this diet)
How popular the diet is
Whether it’s essential for you to cut out gluten entirely, or just something that you can choose to do
The benefits of following this kind of diet
Tips and tricks to make things easier for you
And quite a bit more besides
My Final Diagnosis
To be entirely honest, I was surprised by the amount of confusion about this diet out there. Some people think that wheat-free and gluten-free are the same thing. Others think it means cutting all carbs out. With the infographic, I’m aiming to set the record straight.
Another thing that really shocked me was that there is so much hidden gluten around. It’s a useful binding agent and is even used in cosmetics and shampoos. Crazy as it might seem, there’s a school of thought that banning gluten means avoiding it in all its forms. That could mean changing the shampoo you use, or even the lipstick.
Now, to be fair, I did think that this was a little extreme at first. I really thought that gluten-free beauty products were nothing more than a sales gimmick. As it turns out, there might be some wisdom in cutting them out if you have full-blown celiac disease.
Overall, I enjoyed completing this research project. I learned a lot and I’m sure that you will too. Should you cut out gluten? Check out my research and decide for yourself.
About the author: Nikola Djordjevic, MD, Head of Content at MedAlertHelp.org. Coming from Serbia, Nikola is a doctor of medicine who started this project in 2018 out of his passion for helping others, particularly seniors. Apart from reviewing medical alert systems, he also writes a blog dedicated to health, aging, retirement, and other senior-related topics.
As noted in an earlier post, this is the big Expo week in Las Vegas. Not only for Pizza Expo 2019 as well but also the very first Artisan Baking Expo, happening in the adjacent hall. I know many of you are already planning to be there. And, of course, many of you won’t be there but would love to know what happened, so I’ll report on that when I return. But for those who want more info to help you make up your mind, go to the official websites here: https://www.pizzaexpo.com/ and also here: https://www.artisanbakeryexpo.com/
At last year’s Expo, me (in the empty chair since I was taking the photo), with Nancy Silverton and Brian Spangler
Here’s an update on my schedule in case you want to come by: I’ll be speaking a number of times at both Expo’s, including a keynote presentation on “My Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Pizza” on Monday, March 4th at 12:30 PM. Then, on Tuesday, I’ll be signing books at the Bread Bakers Guild of America booth from 12 to 1 PM, and then at the Lloyd’s Pans booth from 1 to 2 PM. Come by to one of these booths, if you can, and say hi.
On Wednesday at 9:30 AM I’ll be moderating a very special panel with pizza masters John Arena (Metro Pizza, Las Vegas) and Brian Spangler (Apizza Scholl’s, Portland, OR) called, “Tinkering with Your Crust.” We’ll be finding out all their dough tricks as well as fielding lots of questions from the audience in an attempt to help everyone figure out the best way to tweak their own dough to achieve its full potential. Remember, I’m the one who coined the Baker’s Mission: To evoke the full of potential trapped in the grain. That’s the holy grail we’ll be going after in this hour-long discussion. Afterwards, look for me at Fire Within and back at Lloyd’s Pans.
On Thursday, March 7th, I’ll be back on the Artisan Baking Expo side of the hall at 9:45 AM to present on the topic: The Future of Bread. I’ll be sharing the key ideas that emerged from both the 2017 and the 2018 Johnson & Wales International Symposium on Bread. To all my fellow bread-heads, this will be worth your while. Finally, on Thursday at 12 noon I’ll be at the King Arthur Flour booth where we’ll be playing a game with prizes called “Stump Peter Reinhart.” I have no idea what that will be like but I’ve been told it will lots of fun albeit some personal humiliation may be at stake (sounds like somewhere between a dunking tank and NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me).
I’ll also be hanging out every day at the Forno Bravo booth, and the Fire Within booth, and also a few other surprise appearances, so please track me down and hang out for a while. I’m also planning to make an evening ramen run to my new favorite, Ramen Sora, in Las Vegas’s Asia Town. Find me and let know if you want to join the expedition.
At Expo with Siler Chapman, Tony Gemignani, and Michael Shepherd of the Pizza Champions team
On a separate note, our friends at Food First, the makers of ProBiotein and the amazing Micro-Biome Bar that we give away to all attendees at the International Symposium on Bread, and which I’ve written about in the past, have just launched a new bar featuring the newest (to us, at least) North American super-fruit, the Saskatoon berry. I just tasted the first sample run and I love it! They’ve launched a KickStarter campaign, so you can learn all about the Saskatoon and the newly emerging category of prebiotic gut care. Check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microbiome/microbiome-bar?ref=project_link
One more update: I recently did an extensive podcast with the folks from the Flour Hour, where we covered a lot of ground regarding bread, fermentation, and a little philosophy. You can hear it at: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/flour-hour-baking-podcast/id1324467870?mt=2 or Here Hope to see some of you in Vegas and, if not, somewhere on the trail when I hit the road this summer to promote Perfect Pan Pizza, which comes out May 14th (and is on pre-sale already at Amazon).
Till then, may your pizzas all be perfect!!!
Peter Demonstrating How to Make Pita Bread at the Forno Bravo Booth at the 2018 Pizza Expo
Just a few weeks till the big gathering in Las Vegas for Pizza Expo 2019 as well as for the very first Artisan Baking Expo, happening in the adjacent hall. I know many of you are already planning to be there, and others may still be deciding whether it’s worth the time and money (it is, I promise). And, of course, many of you won’t be there but would love to know what happened, so I’ll report on that when I return. But for those who want more info to help you make up your mind, go to the official websites here: https://www.pizzaexpo.com/ and also here: https://www.artisanbakeryexpo.com/
At last year’s Expo, me (in the empty chair since I was taking the photo), with Nancy Silverton and Brian Spangler
I’ll be speaking a number of times at both Expo’s, including a keynote presentation on “My Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Pizza” on Monday, March 4th at 12:30 PM. Then, on Tuesday, I’ll be signing books at the Bread Bakers Guild of America booth from 12 to 1 PM, and then at the Lloyd’s Pans booth from 1 to 2 PM. Come by to one of these booths, if you can, and say hi.
On Wednesday at 9:30 AM I’ll be moderating a very special panel with pizza masters John Arena (Metro Pizza, Las Vegas) and Brian Spangler (Apizza Scholl’s, Portland, OR) called, “Tinkering with Your Crust.” We’ll be finding out all their dough tricks as well as fielding lots of questions from the audience in an attempt to help everyone figure out the best way to tweak their own dough to achieve its full potential. Remember, I’m the one who coined the Baker’s Mission: To evoke the full of potential trapped in the grain. That’s the holy grail we’ll be going after in this hour long discussion.
On Thursday, March 7th, I’ll be back on the Artisan Baking Expo side of the hall at 9:45 AM to present on the topic: The Future of Bread. I’ll be sharing the key ideas that emerged from both the 2017 and the 2018 Johnson & Wales International Symposium on Bread. To all my fellow bread-heads, this will be worth your while.
I’ll also be hanging out everyday at the Forno Bravo booth, and the Fire Within booth, and also a few other surprise appearances, so please track me down and hang out for awhile. I’m also planning to make an evening ramen run to my new favorite, Ramen Sora, in Las Vegas’s Asia Town. Find me — track me down — if you want to join the expedition.
At Expo with Siler Chapman, Tony Gemignani, and Michael Shepherd ot=f the Pizza Champions team
On a a separate note, our friends at Food First, the makers of ProBiotein and the amazing Micro-Biome Bar that we give away to all attendees at the International Symposium on Bread, and which I’ve written about in the past, have just launched a new bar featuring the newest (to us, at least) North American super-fruit, the Saskatoon berry. I just tasted the first sample run and I love it! They’ve launched a KickStarter campaign, so you can learn all about the Saskatoon and the newly emerging category of prebiotic gut care. Check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microbiome/microbiome-bar?ref=project_link
Okay, that’s enough links for one post. Should keep you busy until I can get back next week with the next video in our Anthony Mangieri series. Hope to see some of you in Vegas and, if not, somewhere on the trail when I hit the road this summer to promote Perfect Pan Pizza, which comes out May 14th (and is on pre-sale already at Amazon).
Till then, may your pizzas all be perfect!!!
Me with Tony Gemignani at Pizza Expo — the perfect venue to meet all the pizza superstars
I’ve been teasing this for months but, at long last, a seven episode season of Pizza Quest has now launched on the new BluPrint network. BluPrint is a spin off of Craftsy.com, the leading digital site for instructional courses on nearly every imaginable subject, and now, Craftsy has been acquired by NBC/Universal, and they then created a new subscription network that allows subscribers access to all the Craftsy courses (rather than buying them a l’carte) as well as new, original lifestyle content aimed at people who like to make things (“Makers,” as this demographic is called). We have re-edited some of our best webisodes for them into longer, 12-15 minute episodes, featuring Tony Gemignani, Nnncy Silverton, Anthony Mangieri, Craig Stoll and Anthony Strong (of Pizzeria Delfina), Kelly Whitaker (Pizzeria Basta in Boulder), and others.
And, the folks at BluPrint have provided us with a link that will allow you to watch Episode One (featuring Tony Gemignani) as well as a bonus episode filmed at the Forno Bravo Oven Expo, all for free. It’s kind of a sneak preview. I’d love for you to check it out and, also, to please tell your friends and share the link with your social network. The more viewers we get the better our chances of getting renewed for a second season (which would allow us to shoot all new material at places we have not yet visited). Here’s the link:https://www.mybluprint.com/p/forno-bravo
Feel free to share this link with your friends. We’d love your feedback too. Also, please know that we will continue posting webisodes, guest columns, recipes, and interviews here on this site, so please keep checking back for new postings. The best news is that, now, Pizza Quest will live on two platforms (three if you count YouTube, where we also have a page), so there are lots of ways to find us.
More news and postings soon, so check out Episode One: The Mozart of Pizza on BluPrint and let us know what you think.
As we often say (and it’s more true now than ever): …the quest just never ends….
Note from Peter: Jonathan Goldsmith, is the founder/owner (aka Padrone), along with his wife, artist Ginny Sykes, of Chicago’s most well-known and honored Neapolitan pizzeria, Spacca Napoli. Many of you have been fortunate enough to have eaten there, or have met Jonathan at various pizza events such as the Northeast Pizza & Pasta Show, Pizza Expo, and other gatherings. Many of you have also sought him out for advice and mentoring, as his genuine passion for authenticity and perfecting the craft of pizza making is inspiring (not to mention his love for music and opera). But, for those who haven’t yet met him, here’s a short conversation he and I had following last year’s Pizza & Pasta Show (make note, the next one is coming October 3rd and 4th in Atlantic City). It’s just a slight glimpse into the heart and soul of this very complex, thoughtful pizza icon. Enjoy!!
Jonathan with Peter at the Modernist Cuisine Gallery in Las Vegas
PQ (Peter): Jonathan, thanks so much for spending some time with me and our readers. It’s been a number of years since I first met you and experienced Spacca Napoli, which seemed at the time to be the first authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzeria in Chicago. Many of our followers have been to Spacca but many have not. Would you mind giving us a short recap of your journey from your pre-Spacca life to the current moment, where you are now revered as one of the leaders of the wood-fired Neapolitan pizza revival?
Jonathan: I grew up in NY, not far from New York City. My high school years were in the city. College in St. Louis led to graduate school in Chicago with a Masters in clinical social work. After a number of years in the profession, I left for a life in Italy with my wife and child. My wife painted, I was a house-husband. I was a janitor at my wife’s school, in lieu of tuition. Summers were in Puglia, on the beach in Rodi Garganico, a small fishing village with a long history. Our life was magical. There, I was a bagnino; setting up the umbrellas and making sure all was in order. We returned home after three and a half years. I did some real estate and began working as a volunteer with the Inspiration Café; an organization in Uptown Chicago, serving the homeless. That was twenty-six years ago. Now, I make pizza.
PQ: Quite the journey; I would have loved seeing you setting up those umbrellas in Rodi Garganico. But now you are a major player and role model for the American Neapolian pizza community. Why do you think Neapolitan pizza like yours is finally catching on here, and why did it take so long?
Jonathan: Actually, I do not think of Neapolitan pizza here in America as finally catching on but, rather, I see it as having evolved over a number of years with individuals in many cities practicing the craft and tradition in various forms: Anthony Mangieri at Una Pizza Napoletana, the guys at Tutte Bella and Via Tribunale in Seattle, the folks at the many Settebello locations, Tony Gemignani — these are just a few of the influencers.. You also have icons, such as Chris Bianco in Phoenix and Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery and at his restaurant Co; all of them making their artisanal pies over all these years and greatly contributing to this new phase of pizza making in America. The desire for good and healthy food products is strong; we can do that with pizza.
At Spacca Napoli We offer tradition and authenticity, and we offer a place to be. This is not a new concept; pizza is one of many ways that people come together. It is fun to see how Neapolitan pizza has spread around the world. Not only are people of many countries going to Italy to train, but many of the masters from Naples are now traveling abroad to train, do events and enter into partnerships. We weren’t sure what to expect when we first opened, I guess I never thought about it; maybe, that was a good thing — we just jumped in and did it. I’m going to have to ask ask <cookbook author on the foods of Naples> Arthur Schwartz what he thinks since he’s given it a lot more thought than I have.
PQ: Among the true Neapolitan pizzerias here in the States there are a few that stand out. Yours, obviously, but what are some of the other places you feel that our readers should know about to best experience this style of Naples pizza? And, what do you think separates them from the pack?
Jonathan (JG): Passion drives the business not the reverse. I immediately think of Roberto Caporuscio, of his Keste locations and his Don Antonio; he is one, for sure. On the same playing field, as I mentioned earlier, Anthony Mangieri, of Una Pizza Napoletana and also Tony Gemignani, who has so many great pizzerias. You also have Via Tribunale, SetteBello and Tutta Bella. There are many others I am now aware of, yet have not had the opportunities to visit. I trust a number of them are good and will only get better with years of experience and further training. But, passion and dedication stand out as fundamentals for any great place; you can just feel it when its there.
Jonathan judging the Caputo Cup pizza competition in Atlantic City
PQ: What other styles of pizza do like, and who are some of your other pizza heroes?
JG: As a kid, of course, a NY slice. Albanese Pizzeria in Eastchester, NY. With the dough ever so soft, you had to fold the tip of the slice toward you so that the oil would not drip down your chin. I can still taste it. In Puglia, focaccia ripieno with lampiscione, acchiughe e uvetta; a stuffed focaccia with wild leeks, anchovies and raisins. I would have to sneak by my regular paneficio so as not to be seen going into the other bakery. You had to be there precisely at five when it was expected ready for sale. I was always too early or too late. I even made a trip there one winter to document the making of the pie. Pizza in palla, that was my favorite when judging at the campionato in Parma and, without a doubt, Gabrielle Bonci’s taglia <pan pizza> selections in Rome.
Who stands out, my pizza heroes? Chris Bianco, Tony Gemigniani, Nancy Silverton, Gabrielle Bonci, Franco Pepe, Francuccio of the Med Farine Club, John Gutenkanst, Ciro Oliva, Ciro Salvo, Attitlio Bachetti, Roberto Caporuscio, Antonio Starita. And there are so many others.
PQ: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of getting into the pizza game or who already has a restaurant? What are the most useful (even painful) lessons you’ve learned along the way?
JG: Be prepared to spend 100 hours a week. Continue to be a student. Every day you can improve your craft. Take care of your staff and vendors. Share knowledge. Be part of the community. Delegate as time passes so you can think of the bigger picture. Trust your gut. DO NOT FORGET YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR HEALTH! Experiment, but in small batches. Do not read yelp before you go to bed!
PQ: Can you share a few stories about good or surprising interactions you’ve had with customers, or with some of your mentors?
JG: What stands out is the day to day. I am happy in the pizzeria, with our simple routines of making dough, getting the oven ready, prepping ingredients, making pies, and making people happy. Normal conversations are special, seeing someone smile is special, memories are special. Watching the children and families grow, being part of their lives, catering to those working in the neighborhood. We are a “third place” experience; this moves us from a business to being something more personal. Years ago one of our cheese vendors, a true Napolitano, was so moved after trying one of our margheritas for the first time, he cried. It brought him back home, to memories of his neighborhood, family and friends. That’s what special.
PQ: Jonathan, where do you see yourself in 5 or even 10 years, and what would you like your legacy to be when all is said and done?
JG:: Still in the dough room, and more time in Italy. My legacy? That I was a good pizza guy.
PQ: Thank you so much, Jonathan, for raising the bar for all of us. I think it’s safe to say that you are now, and will always be, a “good pizza guy!”