February 6, 2013 |

2010 November: Ask Chef Jeff

By Jeffrey Freehof

2010 November: Ask Chef JeffQ: We are using Roma tomatoes, a little tomato sauce, mozzerella cheese and basil to make a Margherita pizza. But it is too soggy. What should we do differently?




A: I’d start by eliminating the sauce. Brush a thin shell with a little olive oil. I like to slice balls of fresh mozzarella with an egg slicer to get nice, even thin slices. Slice your tomatoes the same thickness. Don’t cover the whole pizza with the fresh mozzarella. Too much or too thick will certainly create too much moisture on your pizza. Alternate the cheese with the tomatoes and then place your basil leaves between them. This should give you a great pie.

I really want to open a pizzeria in my town, but how is it possible to compete against the big chains?

The one thing the chains will have over us is their marketing budget, because it’s shared by so many other units. Their name will be in consumers’ faces way more than we’ll ever be able to achieve; however, there is so much more that independents can do to win the hearts and minds of the locals. Plug into the community and network as much as you can. Bring samples of your best to local businesses. Go to the local schools and see how you can get your pizza in there for lunch –– or offer prizes and incentives for activities such as reading programs. Offer fund-raisers, and more importantly show customers how much you care about them. Once you have that connection, they won’t care about the chain anymore!

We are thinking about adding an apple dessert pizza. The first one I made is good, but I do need some suggestions about “crumbles” to add on top.

I take about a stick of butter, a cup of fl our, a cup of brown sugar, ½ cup of sugar and a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon and put it in the food processor. There is your crumble. Quick oats are a very nice addition. Just pulse it though to get the crumble texture you are looking for. Enjoy!

Telemarketing seems to be getting out of hand. They either try to trick you or won’t take no for an answer. They’re making me crazy. How do I stop them?

If it’s a credit card processor and you’re not interested in having your rates analyzed, simply pretend you want their name and number and tell them you’ll call them as soon as you are ready. I told one once that the owners are bicycling through Europe and don’t know when they’ll be back. That conversation ended two seconds later. Be careful of scams and warn your staff about not giving out information, or you could get stung. I would avoid at all costs taking any catering orders through a “relay call” where an operator reads to you what the caller is saying and then types your response. It will almost always be a big scam. ?

Jeffrey Freehof, owner of The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia, is Pizza Today’s resident expert. Send your questions to: Ask Chef Jeff, c/o Pizza Today, 908 South Eighth Street, Suite 200, Louisville, Kentucky, 40203.