Author Topic: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements  (Read 1217 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline shuboyje

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1056
  • Location: Detroit
VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« on: April 07, 2013, 03:03:05 PM »
This conversation began in the thread "Two Billís pizza..dough and Carmelina Sauce..great!" in the Sicilian section found here:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,21559.1740.html

In an effort to keep that thread on topic I decided to start a new thread here. 

It began with this post by gschwim:
Quote
Norma,

I'm guessing that you just had an air pocket that filled with steam and expanded when you baked the pie.  One sees the same thing in the crusts of NY pizzas from time to time.  Sometimes the bubbles will expand in from the rim and displace some of the cheese and sauce.

As for the "Detroit Style Certification":  kudos to Shawn (or whomever) for coming up with a clever (and if it works, lucrative) way to make a buck, but he should just offer classes.  The Keste folks offer a course in Italian-style wood fired pizza making in NJ that costs even more than $3,000 (I don't remember the exact number.

And he can offer certification for his personal method, but a certification in the "Detroit style" seems a bit of a conceit.  Not that it's a bad idea, but a committee of recognized experts in the style - Shawn, plus, say, folks from Buddy's, Shield's, Cloverleaf, etc., should get together, discuss, decide, vote, and agree on a common Detroit style.  In which case, I suspect that Buddy's would not go along with the requirement that the pies be baked in a deck oven.

And isn't interesting - amazing coincidence, I'm sure - that a guy who is a major, if not the major, source of the blue steel pans is making using these pans a requirement for the certification?

In my opinion, the style should be defined by the pie itself, not how it is baked:  Light, airy crust, crispy bottom, cheese out to the sides and caramelized, pepperoni under the cheese, sauce on top (and the sauce can be put on at any stage in the process, since different, equally authentic bakers do it different ways.

And as the VPN specifications for "true" Neopolitan pizza do, the specifications must contain at least one very specific recipe, to include all ingredients, the exact proportions and the entire process from mixing the dough to baking the pie, including baking temperature.  There must be specifications for the sauce, too, and there needs to be agreement on the cheese.  And only a certain amount of variation, if any, should be allowed.  So maybe a committee would be better, if Shawn want to keep his recipe secret, but his recipe, and everyone else's as well, need to be reasonably close to the published specifications or they, themselves, cannot be "certified."

And which, I suspect, could make a true certification regime impossible.  The recipe for VPN Italian pizza is a common recipe, hundreds of years old, and pretty much public knowledge.  But the DS style guys seem to want to keep their recipes - dough, sauce and cheese - proprietary.

So, probably the best one can do is, "baked in a pan, cheese out to the sides and caramelized."  If one wants to pay $3,000 for that, fine.  But I think it would be much better for Shawn to offer certification in the "Shawn Randazzo method."  And for $3,000, it better be the precise recipe and method that he uses himself - that's what I would expect for $3,000.

Gene


To this I responded:
Quote
I couldn't disagree more.  The biggest issue with VPN in my opinion is that they did not create an oven requirement.  It is one thing for an oven to create one pizza that meets certification, and another thing for it to do it all day every day in a commercial environment.  This is exactly why we have so much subpar VPN pizza cooked in subpar ovens in this country.  For that reason and a few others I personally consider VPN a worthless gimmick that in no way guarantees quality.


Finally, TXcraig1 replied:
Quote
Jeff, I think you are confusing what is a product specification for a quality guarantee. I donít believe the VPN even attempts to define what is quality let alone the range of acceptable quality let alone actually guarantee a product is in the acceptable range.

You may be right that a tighter spec around the oven would translate into overall higher quality, but I donít think you can extrapolate that to any given pizzeria. It is certainly possible to produce bad pizza from a great oven. Likewise one can make great NP in a less than ideal WFO (or coal, electric, etc.  oven).

Quality assurance of any type would involve sampling and is well beyond the scope of the VPN.

I tend to agree with Norma in the quote you cited.  I donít see how the type of oven employed is germane to the Detroit style. It certainly is not of the importance that it is with respect to NP.


At this point the thread was moving off topic, so I decided to create a new one to continue the dialog.   
-Jeff


Offline shuboyje

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1056
  • Location: Detroit
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2013, 03:12:52 PM »
I don't expect VPN to follow up with frequent inspections or anything like that, but I would at very least expect that when they certify a pizzeria they assure said pizzeria has the capability to produce certifiable pies in a real world situation.  In a real world production environment all ovens are not created equal, that is a fact.  Baking one pie at a time with all your focus on it and only it you can produce a pie that meets their baking and oven requirement in pretty much every oven on the market.  Very few if any non-neapolitan ovens currently on the market can produce certifiable pies when baking multiple pies.  If I know that, and most people here know that, I am sure VPN knows that, so if VPN is certifying pizzerias that it knows will never produce certifiable pies during business hours how is it anything more then a gimmick? 

I don't think an oven requirement is the perfect solution to this problem, instead I would like to see the certification process done during peak hours with the pizzeria open for business.  This eliminates the need for an oven requirement by weeding out the weak ovens by default.
-Jeff

Offline shuboyje

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1056
  • Location: Detroit
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2013, 03:19:51 PM »
As for how this applies to Detroit style.  I've never had a bad pie at Cloverleaf, Shields, Nikki's or Loui's: all using deck ovens.  The pizzas at Buddy's are all over the map with the poor ones usually having a lack of bottom heat.  If there is one thing a deck oven won't have it's lack of bottom heat.  I'm far from a expert on Detroit style, but I would hate to see them make the same mistake I feel VPN has made, and the early evidence is that conveyor ovens lead to issues creating a consistent pie.  Now odds are the issues at Buddy's are more so related to their size and hence their low skilled underpaid staff, but that type of environment tends to go hand in hand with the conveyor oven.
-Jeff

Offline Tscarborough

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 3299
  • Location: Austin, TX
    • Pizza Anarchy
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2013, 04:20:52 PM »
Certification?!  we don't need no stinkin certification!

Offline f.montoya

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 329
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Land of the Rising Sun
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 08:37:28 AM »
I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with shuboyje, but I wanted to point out that the AVPN is a non-profit organization that was started in 1984, for the purpose of protecting the basic parts of an Italian tradition that is hundreds of years old and defining it so it is not confused with any of the off-shoots or devolutions of pizza that we see in the modern world . Their premise is that the dough is the most important element, from how it is made, to how it is baked. Ingredients and recipes are not explicitly required but limitations are set with respect to the dough; flour, water, salt and yeast. I think this differs greatly from trying to corner a style and profit from it like some sort of copyrighted song or patented appliance. So far, this is how I understand VPN...

1. Get the dough VPN and bake it VPN(60-90 seconds with good leoparding on top and bottom), it's a Neapolitan Pizza.
2. Get the dough VPN, bake it VPN, top with VPN toppings(i.e. fresh Moz, hand-crushed tomatoes, sea-salt, ala Margherita), it is VPN(remember that VPN means "V=Real" "P=Pizza" "N=Napoletana", not that you have a AVPN license!)
3. Get the dough VPN, bake it VPN, top with VPN toppings, have a minimum of 2 years working in a AVPN restaurant, as well as graduate the regular AVPN course, then it's S.T.G.(Specialty of Tradition Guaranteed) VPN Pizza.

Pretty much all of us can claim and prove #1 and even #2. And as TXcraig1 says, quality is not really specified in VPN. However, S.T.G. is a promise from AVPN that you are getting a pie that meets all three of the above requirements. It could be over-baked, or underbaked, but it does meet the requirements.

Now if I have any of that wrong, I do hope that board members, with more experience than myself, will correct me.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21738
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2013, 11:05:32 AM »
The VPN organization really isn't all that big. It is in 24 countries, with a total of 327 members, but the top five countries account for 296 of those members (there are 11 countries with only one member). There are 162 members in Italy, with 103 of those in Campania. There are 69 members in the U.S., but several of them are owned by the same entities, bringing the number of owners to 56. Interestingly, 12 of the U.S. VPN pizzerias are in the state of Washington.

As I mentioned previously in another thread, Da Michele is not VPN-certified.

For f.montoya's benefit, Japan has 46 VPN-certified pizzerias. It is third on the list, behind Italy and the U.S.

The trend in general in the U.S. is away from deck ovens and to conveyor ovens, at least when companies use a franchising business model or they go to multiple stores through organic growth. Sbarro is one of the few large chains that uses deck ovens, as does Papa Gino's, a 165+ unit pizzeria operating in the New England area. Sbarro just came out of bankruptcy, and Papa Gino's has been in a holding pattern for years in terms of expansion. All of the major pizza chains in the U.S., and many smaller regional chains, including Buddy's, started out with deck ovens but eventually went to conveyor ovens. Some chains have a mix of deck and conveyor ovens, with the migration increasingly being in the direction of the conveyor ovens.

Peter

Offline andreguidon

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1166
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Sao Paulo
  • Hot WFO always !!!
    • www.andreguidon.com
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2013, 12:52:25 PM »
Peter, the number you type in is a little off, 435 members, settebello (Utah) was the last pizzeria to be certified. and 23 countries.

http://www.pizzanapoletana.org/showassoc.php?id=381

http://www.pizzanapoletana.org/associati.php

Now, about the ovens and certifications, the APN is not the AVPN, Roberto from Keste is the APN "director" ou "president" in the U.S., the APN is an association os pizza makers, not pizzerias.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 12:54:31 PM by andreguidon »
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21738
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 01:11:39 PM »
Andre,

I went to the AVPN website at http://www.pizzanapoletana.org/eng_associati.php and counted all of the members in all 23 countries. After your post, I went back to their website and recounted all of the Italian members, both for the entire country and for Campania, and got the same numbers I reported. It is possible that the numbers at the AVPN aren't up to date or it's possible that the AVPN assigns numbers to the pizzerias that are fixed and do not reflect members that are no longer members or in good standing, such as members who were de-certified or are no longer in business.

Peter

Offline andreguidon

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1166
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Sao Paulo
  • Hot WFO always !!!
    • www.andreguidon.com
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 01:37:00 PM »
could be Peter, ill try to find out. thanks for the heads up!
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

Offline pizzanapoletana

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 958
  • Location: London -UK
  • Pizza Napoletana as it was made in 1730!
    • Forno Napoletano - Pizza Ovens
Re: VPN Certification and Oven Requirements
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2013, 12:02:42 PM »
Andre,

I went to the AVPN website at http://www.pizzanapoletana.org/eng_associati.php and counted all of the members in all 23 countries. After your post, I went back to their website and recounted all of the Italian members, both for the entire country and for Campania, and got the same numbers I reported. It is possible that the numbers at the AVPN aren't up to date or it's possible that the AVPN assigns numbers to the pizzerias that are fixed and do not reflect members that are no longer members or in good standing, such as members who were de-certified or are no longer in business.

Peter


Some of the earlier member do not exist anymore, and therefore the assigned number are not in use e.g. if one had been given n.10 out of 10 in 1984 and then closed down the shop in 1996 and everybody else was still opened, now with the latest associate being n.450, there would actually be 449 member. One of the founding families of AVPN, that owned the now closed pizzeria "Ragno d'Oro" near Piazza Medaglie D'oro, have closed their place in the 1990's and opened a different named pizzeria in another part of town, without getting back into the association...