Author Topic: Za Pi test pizzas...  (Read 3282 times)

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Offline derricktung

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Za Pi test pizzas...
« on: April 08, 2013, 09:36:17 AM »
So I'm in the ever continuous process of making more "non-traditional" pies for testing purposes.  (Let me know if there's already a thread for this that I should be posting in instead of starting a new one).  Figured I could get some ideas from the pros here, as well as some feed back?

Here's one of the tests ones from yesterday morning (pizza for breakfast... who can complain!)

On left side of pie: Mango chutney base
On right side of pie: Tandoori paste base
On top of pie: Fresh mozz
On bottom of pie: Cubed paneer (to test for melting and flavor)

Overall impressions - Mango chutney base is sweet and tasty! Tandoori paste is overly salty, I may have added too much. I made a cilantro yogurt to finish on top of the tandoori paste side, and it definitely helps. Mozz meld the food together well, while the paneer doesn't even begin to melt at 550 degree oven under broiler. Will have to test on a WFO at 900+ degrees to see if it melts any better.

Has anyone done any paneer tests in a WFO?  Does it melt? 


Offline f.montoya

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 09:51:41 AM »
I'm not one of the pros around here, but I can say that I NEVER got that kind of nice charring in my home oven at 550. I wish I could try a slice to give you more feedback but I can honestly say that, here in Japan, if it looks that beautiful, it's delicious, even if it isn't.  :)

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 10:32:20 AM »
I'm not one of the pros around here, but I can say that I NEVER got that kind of nice charring in my home oven at 550. I wish I could try a slice to give you more feedback but I can honestly say that, here in Japan, if it looks that beautiful, it's delicious, even if it isn't.  :)


Thanks for the compliment!  Perhaps I should try to convince my wife to move to Japan for us to open up business instead.  ;)

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 11:18:13 AM »
Paneer doesn't melt.

Are you planning to offer traditional tomato sauce and mozzarella as well?
Pizza is not bread.

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 11:34:24 AM »
Paneer doesn't melt.

Are you planning to offer traditional tomato sauce and mozzarella as well?

Absolutely.  The model (for now) is to always have ingredients on hand for Marinara, Bianco, and Margherita, and then ingredients on hand for two specialty pies based on customer votes from the last week.  Thus, I've been doing all sorts of non-traditional pie tests (chinese sausage, filipino sausage, tandoori chicken, pistachios, etc.) to get a feel for what people might enjoy.

Ultimately, everyone can "customize" their pizza with our ingredients however they want, but what ingredients we'll have on hand will be based on the specials they vote for each week.

Paneer doesn't melt at all??  Man... that's disappointing to hear.  Would've been neat to offer it up to make a more traditional indian style pizza... perhaps I'll have to chop them into smaller cubes then to incorporate it since it doesn't melt...

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2013, 09:43:43 AM »
Here's another pie that we've been working on where we used suggestions from Za Pi fans to figure out what may work.  We have a few more tests to go with this one, but we've definitely found one combination we really like with the Chinese sausage.

Chinese sausage is typically a cured but very sweet sausage.  It can be fried or steamed for great flavor and tastes great by itself, but when I first tested with just tomato sauce, I found it to be simply too sweet and one note in flavor.  Here's what we tried:

From top left clockwise around:

Chinese Sausage test: - Sausage on all

Tomato sauce and fresh mozz (mozz brings nothing, overpowered by sausage)

Olive oil, red onion (too much onion, and still too sweet needs salt?  Pepper?)

Olive oil, celery (nice crunch, no flavor)

Tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, green onion, Grana pandano (clear winner.. the slight spice of the pepper flakes along with the parmesan's saltiness balanced the sweet sausage very well.)


Anyone have any other suggestions or ideas on what Chinese sausage may pair well with?  Someone suggested fish sauce, and after one whiff of opening the bottle, I had no clue how to integrate that into a pie... the other suggest, Chinese mustard greens, will definitely be tested soon...

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 12:18:17 PM »
Just wanted to say...

We got funded!!!!  I just sent Antoine an e-mail to let him know we're ready to move forward with getting the trailer for the oven (Antoine even chipped in to help us with our goal!), and I can't wait for the first firing!

And now that we've hit our target, the real work begins...

Thanks for all your advice/input so far!  Looking forward to learning more, especially now that I have a WFO coming!

Offline csafranek

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 12:28:12 PM »
Congrats!!!  That is awesome!  Please continue to post on your journey.

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2013, 09:10:17 AM »
Digging up an old post to just give a brief update on how things are at the market now that we've been live for five weeks!

Started up at a local slower market to work out any kinks and for the team to get some experience in the dough opening, fire control, cashiering, etc. before we move to the 10x bigger market next week.  10x more people, but 5x more competition in terms of food being served for lunch... it's going to be an interesting Fourth of July weekend.

Everyday has been profitable, albeit in not huge amounts, as my focus is to do this on volume instead of pricing.  (10 inch margherita for $7, specials for typically $10).  With all the costs that tie in around truck rentals to tow the oven, sanitation licensing, market fees, etc.  We need to sell about 35 pies to break even each week.  We've been doing anywhere form 45 to 70 pies, so not too shabby, but not something I can quit my day job for.

Speaking of jobs, this definitely takes up a LOT more time than expected... this is literally another part time job... between purchasing ingredients, ingredient prep in the commissary, doing financials for taxes and business purposes, analyzing our sales trends, keeping up with social media... I've probably never been busier or felt more behind, especially with the day job getting busier as well.  But all in all, I still love it.

We've had plenty of new customers, and lots of repeat customers who come back and buy 1, 2, even 4 more pizzas than their first time.  It's really heartening to see repeat customers, as it let's me know we do have a great product... and it's a LOT of fun getting to know our repeat customers, their likes/dislikes, their lives, etc.  It's seriously one of the greatest joys that keeps the adrenaline rush going on Saturdays.

Here's a quick pic of some pies we made yesterday:  Margherita with extra sauce, a Kaner special (for Blackhawks win!) which has mozz, gorgonzola, roasted chicken, and buffalo sauce, and our customer voted special (rotating each week) of cashew pesto sauce, roasted chicken, sun dried tomatoes (these seem to burn... to people add on mid bake?), and grana padano. 

Just wanted to stop by briefly and say that I miss coming onto the forums, and hope to be back when things slow down again!  And thank you for all the advice and help thus far!  I couldn't have come this far without you guys!

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 11:55:43 AM by Steve »

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2013, 09:13:37 AM »
For some reason, having a hard time posting pics... attached to this post hopefully.


Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2013, 07:39:28 AM »
Little by little, we've been getting better at our techniques as a team.  There's two of us training as pizzaiolos for the market (myself and one other partner) and two of us training for the fornino position (myself again, and a different partner).  I wanted to learn both positions as this whole idea/company is really my baby, and I want to be versatile enough to be able to work all positions as necessary.

Here's a few shots of our more recent pies where I was the fornino at the end of the market- June 29th:

Margherita with extra sauce (per customer request)

Kaner Special to celebrate Blackhawks win (roasted chicken breast, mozz, gorgonzola, buffalo sauce)

Pesto chicken with sun dried tomatoes and grana padano (btw, do people usually put the tomatoes on mid bake?  Our seem to char a bit much).



I know that I need to get some more heat in the oven early on, as these later pies were coming out a bit blonde and not enough leoparding...

As an additional side note, anyone have advice on how to best clean the ash out of your WFO without losing the charcoal wood pieces?  Or do you just toss the baby out with the bath water?


Offline dhorst

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2013, 09:15:32 AM »
In regards to the sundried tomatoes, I would soak them a bit first.  Water of course, but beer would be nice also for a soaking liquid and would help as far as the over charring.  Just a 10-15 minute soak should do you, and if you go with beer, you get to have a swig or three.  I would also save the soaking liquid and either use it again for soaking, or freeze it and throw it into soup or a sauce.  The tomatoes will impart a bit of richness to the liquid and give whatever you're making, a depth of flavor.

Nice looking pies.  Best wishes for you and your future endeavors!

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2013, 10:32:08 AM »
Dhorst- Thanks for the tip on the sun dried tomatoes!  Will have to do that next time... in a 600 degree oven, they don't burn!  That 900+ WFO makes a big difference...

Here's a few pics from our last market on July 6th.  Wheaton market was FAR busier with a lot more customers... looking forward to building a following!

Any tips/feedback/advice is always appreciated!

Our special this week was a funghi formaggio (sauteed baby bella mushrooms, fresh mozz, gorgonzola, goat cheese, and garlic) while the other pies are a margherita, bianca, and pepperoni (the three that we always offer).

I was the dough stretcher for this round of pies, while a partner topped, and another partner worked the oven.  He's definitely got more experience with the oven and better understanding than I do... I'll have to get more rotations in soon.

Offline Peasant

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2013, 02:11:15 AM »
Dhorst- Thanks for the tip on the sun dried tomatoes!  Will have to do that next time... in a 600 degree oven, they don't burn!  That 900+ WFO makes a big difference...

Here's a few pics from our last market on July 6th.  Wheaton market was FAR busier with a lot more customers... looking forward to building a following!

Any tips/feedback/advice is always appreciated!

Our special this week was a funghi formaggio (sauteed baby bella mushrooms, fresh mozz, gorgonzola, goat cheese, and garlic) while the other pies are a margherita, bianca, and pepperoni (the three that we always offer).

I was the dough stretcher for this round of pies, while a partner topped, and another partner worked the oven.  He's definitely got more experience with the oven and better understanding than I do... I'll have to get more rotations in soon.

Re: tomatoes - You can try switching to dried tomatoes kept in oil (or soak yours in oil).

Re: feedback - are you sure you're oven is up to ~900 .F temp?  A lot of those pies look pale :(  Is there a good Neapolitan joint in the area that you can get a stage for more training?

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2013, 06:57:43 AM »
Re: tomatoes - You can try switching to dried tomatoes kept in oil (or soak yours in oil).

Re: feedback - are you sure you're oven is up to ~900 .F temp?  A lot of those pies look pale :(  Is there a good Neapolitan joint in the area that you can get a stage for more training?

For the tomatoes, they are already soaked in oil, which is why I was a little surprised they burnt so fast... we'll have to try the soaking in water/beer trick to see if that helps when the ingredient rolls around again as a special of some sort.

We're definitely 800-900+ when we put the pies in.  A few things:

1.  When we take the picture on our phones, the crust always seems more pale than it really is.  But to be fair, some of our pies are definitely a bit more pale than they should be as well.

2.  I'm working with my main fornino to convince him to get more color in the oven... he's been pulling them out a bit too fast (especially when we hit rushes of people). 

3.  We use a mix of flour (00 and AP) since we're not a strict Neapolitan pie... I found in my taste tests that people seem to prefer something with a bit more chew/crisp compared to the straight 00 flour (which is softer).  The flour is bleached I believe... would this impact coloration?

Since all of us have full time jobs during the week, it's pretty much impossible for us to take on a stage somewhere at this point.  I had tried to get a once-twice a week position while we were still in the early phases of testing, research, and building our oven, but the places around here weren't receptive to the idea of me being there only on a short term basis, and I hate deceiving folks unnecessarily.

Thanks for the feedback!  I'll continue to work on getting some more brown to it...

Here's a pic of our special from yesterday:  Italian Beef, Hot Giard, and fresh mozz.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 08:30:43 AM by derricktung »

Offline deb415611

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2013, 07:04:59 AM »
nice pies derrick. 
Deb

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2013, 12:18:41 PM »
We've come to the end of our season, and *almost* broke even if we amortized all our equipment for one year only.  (It bothers me to no end that we're shy about $150 to break even...)

After nearly 2000 pizzas later, we've come a LONG way in learning the different aspects of the WFO.  Just wanted to post one of our first pizzas we ever made (when we came up with the idea) and one of our last pizzas we made (at the last market we were at).

While we've come a long way, we've still a long way to go to improve our pies, processes, etc.  (I dream that we can put out TXCraig looking pies every time someday). 

Any advice based on the pies you see?

Thanks in advance!!

Offline RobynB

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2013, 12:39:21 PM »
That's a pretty dramatic improvement  ;D 

Can't you throw a party and charge $150 for the attendees to eat pizza?  Creative marketing, call it.

Online tinroofrusted

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2013, 01:12:57 PM »
Any advice based on the pies you see?

You have got it tuned pretty much perfectly I would say.  And amortizing the equipment over a single year is really not how you should think of it (probably more like five years?) so I think you can say you made plenty of money in your first year.   :)

Offline derricktung

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Re: Za Pi test pizzas...
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2013, 02:33:04 PM »
And amortizing the equipment over a single year is really not how you should think of it (probably more like five years?) so I think you can say you made plenty of money in your first year.   :)

Our goal was to break even out first year, with an aggressive schedule for amortization.  I'm actually removing myself from the head of the original company to pursue a brick and mortar project, so I'm in talk with my other partners to see if they'd be willing to lead Za Pi and take majority ownership... that's part of the reason why I amortized the equipment for one year instead of 3-5.  But I agree, we're comfortably profitable our first year if I amortized over three to five years.  =)

That's a pretty dramatic improvement  ;D 

Can't you throw a party and charge $150 for the attendees to eat pizza?  Creative marketing, call it.

Thanks!  Practice really helps, as well as studying all the advice/discussions here on the forums... I don't know who would actually come eat pizza for $150, even if it was AYCE (all you can eat).  Maybe if I charged $35 per person?  I can't imagine folks would eat much more than 2-3 pizzas in a sitting...

Interesting idea indeed...