Italy Meets San Francisco / Thursday, March 30 / 9 a.m.
When two star pizzaioli share the Demonstration Stage at Pizza Expo on Thursday, March 30, at 9 a.m. they’ll bake classic pies in the Italian tradition. Audience members will see how techniques differ between Italian master Graziano Bertuzzo and famous Californian Tony Gemignani. Both have won pizza-making championships in Italy and the U.S. and instruct at pizza schools. We asked them about their upcoming appearance.
Pizza Expo: Will each of you make your own pizzas and compare techniques and results, or will you work together on the same pies?
Tony Gemignani: I feel we should both make a style of pizza each and talk about the pizza, dough, style and technique. I plan to use 5 Stagioni flour along with other grains in my dough and make a pizza alla pala pizza.
Graziano Bertuzzo: It would be interesting to use the same exact flours as Tony so the audience will be able to see and compare two different working methods starting from the same basis.
PE: What is the biggest error pizza makers commit when baking a traditional pie?
GB: There are several mistakes, but the most common and hardest to solve is the respect for time, temperature and the hydration of the dough.
TG: Typically there are several mistakes: not using the correct flour, dough recipe, oven, oven temperature, technique or even ingredients. Operators don’t do enough research before they try to make authentic-style pizza.
PE: Why should U.S. pizzerias add pizza alla palla to their menus?
TG: It’s a style that is getting more and more popular. It’s a style that is traditional in Rome and other parts of Italy. With the use of multigrain in the dough it’s very digestible, and it’s great for both to-go and dine-in and is especially great for slice houses.
GB: U.S. pizzerias should add it to their menu because according to this pizza recipe, if well prepared, it should have . . . real high hydration levels; the result in this case would be a highly digestible dough with more water and less flour, so less starch to be digested. Also, this pizza style has a more appealing look as compared to a classic pizza, can bear different toppings and can be shared by a group of people.
PE: You both train pizzaoili at schools in your home countries. How do you know when you have a student who might become a future champion?
GB: I’ve been training pizzaioli for over 40 years now. The only thing that counts is education at any stage and curiosity for the field of research you are involved in. Yes, surely you can see right away if a person is more interested than another, but this doesn’t mean that the last will be the first. Things can change very rapidly!
TG: It’s like a sport: When you see someone playing soccer at an early age, you realize that some have skill and others are not there yet. It’s all about research and practice. It’s not overnight, but it is easier for some than others.
PE: When you open a pizzeria together some day in the future will it be called Tony and Graziano’s or Graziano and Tony’s?
TG: Ha ha! That’s a tough one. Maybe age before beauty, so it will have to be Graziano and Tony’s.
GB: If we open a shop in Italy it will be Graziano and Tony. If we open in the States it will be Tony and Graziano!
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