Author Topic: Pizza school for American style pizza?  (Read 2422 times)

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Offline oratio

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Pizza school for American style pizza?
« on: December 10, 2012, 01:28:03 PM »
    Hi, everyone!

I have a café and I am - among other courses - serving pizza where the crusts are from frozen half baked bread. Needless to say, it isn't very good.

My ambition have been to go to the states - hopefully New York - to learn how to make American pizza there, but the few places I find there seem very short - 4 or 5 days. Can one really get enough basic knowledge in less than a weeks time? I have an professional two level electric pizza oven, which I intend to keep using.

Even though the dough and styles are different, I am also considering going to Naples, Italy to study to Pizzaiolo there. Maybe I should start with that and then find my way with other styles on my own. Maybe when opportunity comes, later take a one week course in San Francisco?

  
So, basically my questions are:
    
        - Will I learn sufficiently to make American NY style pizza in 4 or 5 days, or do you know of any other schools maybe better or longer, preferably in New York?
        - Would an alternative be studying to become a certified AVPN Pizzaiolo as base for all my pizza baking, and experiment with other styles on my own?
      
          What are your thoughts and opinions?

          Any kind of tips and pointers is appreciated!
      
 
 Pizza Schools:

         American pizza
    
VenueLocation
International School of Pizza              San Franciscohttp://www.internationalschoolofpizza.com
Goodfellas              New Yorkhttp://www.goodfellas.com/pizza_school.html

       Neapolitan style pizza
    
Antonio Starita at Pizzeria StaritaNapoli           http://www.pizzeriastarita.it and http://www.pizzaiuolinapoletani.it
Associazione Verace Pizza NapoletanaNapoli           http://www.pizzanapoletana.org/eng_formazione.php
Enzo Coccia at PizzaconsultingNapoli           http://www.blogpizzanapoletana.com/en/

   Also, Roberto Caporuscio of "Kesté" and "Don Antonio by Starita" in NYC seem to teach a 10 day intensive course, but I have trouble finding information on it.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2012, 01:32:16 PM by oratio »


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2012, 01:57:07 PM »
Mike,

In the U.S, wannabe pizza operators often take the AIB course as described at https://secure.aibonline.org/php/ecomm-catalog.php?catalogNbr=377. Tom Lehmann, who works for the AIB and who is a member of this forum, is usually one of the instructors.

Peter

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2012, 04:21:25 PM »
   ..... to learn how to make American pizza there, but the few places I find there seem very short - 4 or 5 days.

You could learn here in about a week, if you stick to it.

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline scott123

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2012, 05:03:36 PM »
Mike, first off, just so there's no confusion, 'American Style' is it's own style of pizza and it's very different from 'NY style' pizza.  You can have an American NY style hybrid, but it doesn't sound like that's your goal.  Based upon this post and your earlier posts, I'm assuming you're looking to either sell NY style or Neapolitan (NP) style pizza.

The decision whether to sell NY or NP pizza has been pondered over many times for countless hours on this forum.  I think the most important aspect of this decision is the demographics of your area.  I can't speak for Sweden, but here in the U.S., Neapolitan, in order to achieve maximum profits, generally requires either a densely populated area and/or an area with a considerable amount of wealth.  It's not necessarily because poorer communities can't afford it, but because poorer consumers can have a hard time justifying the higher price and because wealthier communities tend to have more adventurous palates. If you were in downtown Stockholm and had a location that wasn't close to any other NP places, then it would be a no brainer.  But a 'small town' south of Stockholm... Unless it's one of Stockholm's wealthy suburbs, then I'm not sure how profitable NP will be.

Don't get me wrong, you'll make money with well made NP pizza, but I think, for a small town in Sweden, NY style could be more profitable. I've also spent some time researching Swedish pizza, and, from what I can tell, it's very NYish (basically NY with an enormous amount of toppings), so NY style would seem like a small step for customers  conditioned for traditional Swedish offerings.

This all being said, you're the guy holding the peel- your passion (or lack thereof) will show itself in the product.  If, say, Neapolitan pizza excites you considerably more than NY, then that passion might, to an extent, offset a demographically challenged area. If you're equally excited about both styles, though, based upon your 'small town' location, my recommendation would be to sell NY style.

Your existing oven is another plus in the NY style column, although I've come across quite a few 'professional two level electric pizza ovens' that couldn't produce respectable NY style pizzas/NY style bake times. If you decide on the NY route, we're going to need some information regarding your oven:

Wattage
Peak temp on dial
Stone material/thickness
Internal Dimensions
Model/Serial #s
Photos (especially of the electrical elements)

While I applaud your desire to learn, and you definitely can never know 'too much,' in your particular instance, going to school for NY style pizza might be counterproductive.  First off, Goodfellas makes absolutely horrible pizzas:

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/08/skip-the-pizza-and-get-the-sandwiches-at-goodfellas-les.html

and while Tony Gemignani (International School of Pizza) could be one of the best guys in the world to learn dough tossing acrobats from, he has gaps on the pizzamaking side. You don't want to learn how to make NY pizza from a Californian :)

Even if there were a respectable NY style pizza school that was geared to small Mom & Pop (cafe sized) enterprises, they wouldn't be able to gear the instruction towards your specific needs.  Sourcing the perfect flour in Sweden is going to be a challenge, as well as getting the most out of your particular oven. If you've never made bread before, then I'd find a local college course on breadmaking.  Other than that, though, I think, rather than a school, a consultant is the best path.  A good consultant can train you and help you through your specialized issues.  They should also be able to do all the training via a webcam, so you won't have to spend money or time on airfare and lodging.

On the Neapolitan side, should you decide to go that route, regarding the organizations you're considering, I think it's important, rather than looking at these entities as a whole, to focus on individual teachers.  It's the not the organization that's going to teach you pizzamaking, but the teacher.  You want to train under the best individual.

A big part of Neapolitan training is simply doing, making the apprenticeship, imo, one of the most critical aspects of the process. While you probably can find an English speaking teacher in Naples, if you don't speak Italian, an apprentice-ship in Naples might be a bit iffy. If you can speak Italian, and you want to sell NP, then I'd definitely head off to Naples to train. If you don't, though, I'd probably look into training with either Roberto or Giulio Adriani in NY or maybe Matthew (forum member) in Toronto (if he's offering training yet).  Roberto's schedule has been really full for quite some time, so he might not be offering training, but I'd still see if he's available any time in the foreseeable future.

But that's all contingent on taking the Neapolitan route.  Until I know more about your area, I think NY is your best bet.

And, as Gene (Jet_Deck) said, if you're really motivated, you can learn everything you need to here.  
« Last Edit: December 10, 2012, 10:25:25 PM by scott123 »

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2012, 10:01:51 PM »
Mike,
Is scott123 not awesome.....all that professional info for FREE no less!  :chef: Jet deck (Gene) has the right idea too. Spend a week or 2 here focusing on the 2 styles of pizza you are interested in and you will have a much greater focus on how to proceed....it only costs your time.  ;)
Bob
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Offline oratio

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2012, 07:32:51 AM »
Thank you all, and sorry for not getting back sooner! Thank you for your tip and the link to AIB @Pete-zza.

@scott123 You have given me lots to think about.

It's a Swedish make Pizzamaster PM 722E Two deck electrical pizzaoven at 13,4 kW.
Peak temp is 400 C.
It has two clay hearthstones of 355x710 mm in each deck, being an inch thick.
The inner dimensions are 28,0" x 28,0" x 8,2"/9,6".

 Image http://espresso.com/bmz_cache/f/f1403d88bd54b61c142ef2589e503245.image.499x489.jpg
 Data sheet http://ebookbrowse.com/pizza-oven-pizzamaster-700-pdf-d381835832

I can get back to you with some photos of the insides, as the oven is in another location atm.

@Jet_deck and @Chicago Bob Yes, I will hang around. It seems like such a great forum with people of great know-how and passion.

      Mike
« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 11:14:12 AM by oratio »

Offline scott123

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 10:28:38 AM »
Ah, a Pizzamaster.  That's a different story.  For NY style, that's one of the best ovens you can get. There will still be a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of the oven, but, once you dial it in, it will perform beautifully for you.  Since this particular oven is so ideal for NY style, I think this should factor into your NY/NP decision.

Unless, as I said before, you think you might be more passionate about NP.

Don't worry about the photos. This forum is well versed in all things Pizzamaster.

Offline oratio

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2012, 12:39:52 PM »
I was in contact with the very forthcoming and professional people at the AIB International. It would be the perfectly ideal way to start off my pizza endeavor, but unfortunately, they only have pizza training once a year, in October. Mr. Lehman also offers at site consultations, even in Sweden, and I was seriously considering it. I came to the conclusion that this wasn't an option at the moment. For one I am unsure about my budget, where I am still in the process of setting up a proper pizza station, rebuilding the kitchen and more. I also need to experience a set up professional atmosphere, and I want (need) to go to the US and hopefully NYC to really get the culture around the American pizzas and how things are done professionally. This is what I want to bring into my kitchen.

Sure, I can get training in Sweden. But that is just really a no-go for me. Those who know me, know that I am not a picky person, but what is called pizza over the counter in the abundant amount of pizzerias of Sweden, is not anything I want to serve in my establishment.

I still have time as I am opening the Café again in June, but I am considering my options. I am considering going to California and Tony Gemignani's International School of Pizza in SF, CA to get a base line and direction for my continued experimentation. I am also still considering going to VPN training in Marina del Rey, CA, in January or February. Goodfellas could be an option, just to get me into the loop. It still puzzles me that there seem to be difficult to find training in NYC, this huge never sleeping city, being the Mecka of pizza it seem to be. I guess most go through training in the local shop.

Are there any real options for pizza training in NYC this spring? Or anything closer than California?

In any case, I will be increasingly active on this forum.

 - Mike
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 12:43:40 PM by oratio »

Offline scott123

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 02:58:29 PM »
I still have time as I am opening the Café again in June.

I'm sorry to break it to you, Mike, but 6 months isn't a lot of time.

If you're taking the Neapolitan route and haven't made a lot of dough or tended a wood fired oven much, you should have started this at least 6 months ago. Neapolitan pizza is not something you just pick up immediately and no amount of training will ever expedite the process.  You have to make many dough balls and work the oven over and over again. If you want to push off your pizza sales until 2014, then I think you can do Neapolitan, but I would build a wood fired oven and start practicing right away.

If you're going with NY style, you might be able to be ready in time, but you have to start now.  Learning dough acrobatics from Gemignani (his only strength) in California will get you no where. And, in case I wasn't clear before, Goodfellas is literally flushing money down the drain.  For the next six months, you want to be making dough and baking pizza at least every other day. If you can stretch and launch 100 skins, that will be a half decent start, but 300 will really hone your skills. If you had a year or two, then, sure, you could travel, but with six months, you have no time for that.

No offense to Tom, but onsite training outside of North America doesn't really work- Not unless you have a tremendous amount of money to spend. I've tried it with one of my clients, and, logistically it's pretty much impossible.  Here, in the states, a consultant can have a fledgling pizzeria order a specific flour, then walk in and know, for the most part, exactly how that flour will respond.  In Sweden, your flour selection is going to take time- weeks. You're going to want to test a variety of flours- at least 4- and you want a pro tracking all the experimentation you do.  Either paying a consultant for weeks or paying for multiple trips is completely cost prohibitive.

Any respectable NY pizza consultant should have the ability to teach you remotely, over a web cam. This is 2012 here  :) You can point the web cam at the mixer while it's mixing and they should, with great ease, tell you if your flour choice is working for you. I've taught people outside of the U.S. over the phone using photos, but that wasn't as efficient (and right now, you need efficient) as a webcam.

I'm not trying to scare you here, but, in the pizza world, 6 months isn't a lot of time. You're learning a skill that takes most people years to master.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 03:32:00 PM by scott123 »

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2012, 04:20:05 PM »
Buy a couple 50# bags of different types of flour, some cheap tomatoes and (to begin) the cheapest cheese you can get.  Then make pizzas.  And more pizzas.  And then, once you start figuring out the dough, begin refining your selections in flour, tomatoes and cheese to what is available to you and at a sellable margin.  The big thing is to make a lot of dough and a lot of pizzas.  As a starting point, use one of the emergency doughs for NY and work from there.

Not that a course wouldn't be nice, but it would kind of be a waste, no, strike that,  it would help you much more, if you took the class with a lot of dough and pizzas behind you instead of in front of you.


Offline scott123

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 05:05:30 PM »
Buy a couple 50# bags of different types of flour, some cheap tomatoes and (to begin) the cheapest cheese you can get.

While I agree 100% about the 'make as much pizza as you can' recommendation, at this point, he shouldn't be paying a cent for flour. He can grab some small bags from the supermarket to play around with until the big bags come in, but if he's getting 50# bags, he should be doing that through a distributor, and getting the first bag of each for free. Everything, at the start, should be a free sample.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 05:09:14 PM by scott123 »

Offline oratio

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 01:17:15 PM »
Scott,

thank you for your advice. I don't think I have any illusions of what Goodfella's Pizza School is, but the main reason I would have for going to such a place, with the lack of serious training, would be for a kickstart into the loop, putting me in context, as well as the invaluable opportunity to sample and take in the pizza- and overall culture of NYC.

I think that what comes out of an oven doesn't just spring from a recipe, but from a whole culture behind it, and that I can't be authentic, if I don't know what authentic is. I also think I need a good kick in the butt.

I have unwavering interest and passion about what I am doing with my cafe, which I think is the most important aspect with whatever one sets out to do in life.

I understand what you are saying, that it takes years to become a master of pizza baking. And you raise a very good point. I can't really order KASL where I am, and finding a suitable local flour might take some time. 6 months will have to do though, to learn how to make pizzas I am not ashamed of. As soon as I get my kitchen in order, I'll be baking away as per your advice.

 - Mike
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 01:18:52 PM by oratio »

Offline oratio

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Re: Pizza school for American style pizza?
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 01:19:25 PM »
... it would help you much more, if you took the class with a lot of dough and pizzas behind you instead of in front of you.

You make perfectly good sense. That really helped, and I am going to sign up for the AIB class in October.

 - Mike