Author Topic: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?  (Read 3816 times)

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Offline RobynB

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I've been researching this a bit on my own, and still haven't found a real answer.  Every restaurant I've been to, the prep table surface is marble.  But every stone seller/cutter/professional I've spoken with says, do NOT buy marble for a prep surface.  When I tell them that all restaurants use marble, they just blink at me and have no explanation.  I get why they want to dissuade me, I know marble etches, acid stains it, it scratches...  I get that granite is harder and less porous, therefore more durable.  So why does every restaurant use marble for their prep, here and in Italy (and presumably elsewhere too)?? 

We debate the ingredients down to the molecule, we argue about sauce and flour and the source of the water...  I want to know, why marble?  Is it just tradition?  Or it was easily available back when and so it's still the "norm"?  Or is there another reason to have marble instead of granite or another surface for prepping pizza? 


Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2012, 10:35:59 PM »
Robyn,  minor detail here,   but may have something to do with it.  As far as moving dough around goes,  a nonporous surface is at least for me not preferred.  Take the aluminum peel for example,  for me an absolute nightmare compared to the ease of use of a wood peel.  I had to use much more flour with a metal peel,  than with wood.  For me,  the perforated aluminum peel is trying to make up for its flaws.  Some of this all dawned on me when someone argued the conventional wisdom of sanding a wood peel with very fine sandpaper,  and instead said go medium.  This gives bench/peel flour a place to be and minimizes surface contact with the dough.  Sand it to 300 grit and it acts like an aluminum peel.  Being a clean freak,  it occurred to me one day to try a nice piece of tempered glass as a prep surface.  It was the worst ever!  As a prep surface goes,  irregularity and porosity is a good trait,  not to mention the temps that marble helps to maintain.  Marble will help stabilize dough temps,  if the dough is too warm,  it can cool it,  and if too cool can warm it.  My 2 cents

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2012, 10:44:27 PM »
Everything Marc said plus it looks better than granite.

Offline RobynB

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2012, 11:04:10 PM »
Okay, I'm a GI perforated peel user and am very happy with them.  I have SS counters and didn't like that, so I got a marble slab to try and it works great, but then the stone guy gave me a granite slab and it works equally well.  I've only used the granite once, maybe I will discover issues?  Love to hear from others too.

Thanks for those responses!

Offline JConk007

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2012, 11:54:50 PM »
I used my outdoor  granite counter top for years before I move I also like the wood and they work fine d to Marble slab  so I could surround it and keep the flour from flying all over. I also use GI metals  and love them started with alot of flour but have it down to minimal now. Dont mind a wood peel either yes little rougher works better Marc. I must say the Granite worked fine But the marble work better and I don't know why just feels different smoother ? slipperier?
ok guess its a draw on both for me
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Offline Matthew

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2012, 03:54:44 AM »
I've been researching this a bit on my own, and still haven't found a real answer.  Every restaurant I've been to, the prep table surface is marble.  But every stone seller/cutter/professional I've spoken with says, do NOT buy marble for a prep surface.  When I tell them that all restaurants use marble, they just blink at me and have no explanation.  I get why they want to dissuade me, I know marble etches, acid stains it, it scratches...  I get that granite is harder and less porous, therefore more durable.  So why does every restaurant use marble for their prep, here and in Italy (and presumably elsewhere too)??  

We debate the ingredients down to the molecule, we argue about sauce and flour and the source of the water...  I want to know, why marble?  Is it just tradition?  Or it was easily available back when and so it's still the "norm"?  Or is there another reason to have marble instead of granite or another surface for prepping pizza?  

I have bianco statuario counter tops in my entire kitchen.  They have been using marble in Europe for hundreds of years.  The problem with our North American mentality is that when something stains/scratches we see it as a major travesty.  In Europe they would view it as character.  Yes marble does etch stain etc.  That being said I strongly recommend that you get the finish honed.  As it wares it begins to develop a really nice patina.  If you have money to burn you can get it leathered like we did at the restaurant.  If you go with a gloss finish then you'd better be prepared for all kinds of etching.  If you cannot deal with all these factors but still want marble you can spend a few hundred dollars and get it polished or honed yearly.

Matt


Offline PizzaVera

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2012, 05:10:07 AM »
you guys talking original imported marble from Italy?  or the fake chinese marble?

Offline Matthew

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2012, 06:03:22 AM »
you guys talking original imported marble from Italy?  or the fake chinese marble?


What's fake chinese marble? 

buceriasdon

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2012, 08:02:20 AM »
I went with all stainless steel for prep tables and haven't really been happy with opening dough balls on it, to me I have to use too much bench flour. I may have a piece of marble cut just for that purpose if I can't get the hang of it soon.
Don

buceriasdon

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2012, 08:11:32 AM »
I assume the poster was referring to reconstituted stone sometimes called engineered stone using powders and granules and polyester as a binder. Many years ago I worked in a shop that produced items from the process, didn't last but maybe a year, the smell of the polyester just got to me.
Don


Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2012, 10:40:16 AM »
If you have money to burn you can get it leathered like we did at the restaurant.

Is that why it has that flat look to it. I love the counters you guys got. They really are incredible. For anyone who hasn't seen the counter tops http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,15263.msg155921.html#msg155921

Offline norma427

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2012, 10:43:10 AM »
Robyn,

I use marble at market to open my doughs, but find other surfaces also work well.

Norma
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Offline Matthew

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2012, 10:55:46 AM »
Is that why it has that flat look to it. I love the counters you guys got. They really are incredible. For anyone who hasn't seen the counter tops http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,15263.msg155921.html#msg155921


The texture is really cool, from far they actually look like leather.  It's hard to tell from the photo but they are not flat at all they are really wavey.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2012, 12:37:35 PM »
you guys talking original imported marble from Italy?  or the fake chinese marble?

That must be DOP marble...  :-D

FYI - Italy doesn't have any claim on marble. It can be found all over the world, and it is just as "real" wherever it comes from.

CL
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Offline RobynB

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 01:00:15 PM »
Don:  yeah, I was really unhappy trying to use our stainless steel counters, that's why we're putting stone on the island. 

Matthew:  Thanks, I was hoping you would post to this thread.  I agree with you about the aging and patina, and still have my heart set on marble, Azul Celeste is the one I want.  My husband has listened to the stone guys and is pressuring me toward granite, so I'm trying to find real reasons one way or the other. 

Craig:  I think he meant custom-finished marble as opposed to the pre-fab Chinese slabs, but yes, those are real marble too  :-D  They are, however, thinner and usually more brittle than quality marble custom-cut.  Or maybe he did mean fake, I've had more than one stone guy mislead me as to materials in this search.  It's funny when you go to a bunch of places and talk to sales people, especially when you are taking photos and notes, to discover that one guy tells you it's marble when it's really onyx, or tries to sell you a man-made material but calls it something else...  It's been an education. 

I'd love to hear from more people using one or another surface and get their feedback!  Thanks, everyone!

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2012, 04:07:00 PM »
Are you only going to be getting it as a counter top or as the landing of your oven as well? I'm not 100% sure but granite doesn't hold up to heat like marble does. My uncle has an outdoor charcoal grill and the counter top around it is granite. After a couple firings of the grill the granite cracked in 2 places around the grill. I have marble as a landing and definitely know it's been hotter than his grill and it's never had a problem.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2012, 04:43:53 PM »
Matt, how do you keep your marble from staining? Is it sealed, or do you just not spill anything on it?
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2012, 05:36:24 PM »
Matt, how do you keep your marble from staining? Is it sealed, or do you just not spill anything on it?
Sealer is BS. I put like 4 coats of it on my landing and it still stained. But it looks nice like that though.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2012, 06:16:50 PM »
My landing is getting so many stains - mostly from setting my pizza cutter down on it - its getting hard to tell they are stains and not part of the marble.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline Matthew

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Re: Why marble for prep surface? Historically and in the present?
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2012, 07:25:59 PM »
Matt, how do you keep your marble from staining? Is it sealed, or do you just not spill anything on it?

It's sealed, the real enemy is red wine. Whenever I get any wine stains or a colored stain I just get it rehoned and sealed.