Today a woman who volunteers in my program brought her son and his wife in for some pizza. She is a former executive chef from Chicago who amoung other high profile cooking gigs, fed the super star musicians that played a 15,000 seat arena the meals they had written into their contracts. Her son is a graduate of the culinary institute of america napa california campus and now is an executive chef for disney's fantasia hotel in miami. His wife is also a chef, but now is "retired" and getting ready to raise a family. Her son made a few pizzas with me that we ate and they took a couple more home for a family gathering. He warned me he was not a pizza maker but did great. We talked food, food, food. He was the first person since I moved to OH that knew chef Laurant who ran Aqua in SF and the fois grais fiasco in Somoma that he and I were involved with and that PITA targeted. It got nasty with the FBI getting involved. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/featured_articles/20030925thursday.html
His sister, who came in from chicago works for the food network, including dives, diners, drive ins. All my volunteers kids are in the culinary world and live all over the country. I was really moved they came to us to buy pizza and visit our bakery. I was in Columbus tonight having diner with some old musician friends that were passing through and when I got home a few minutes ago checked my email found this. This is the kind of stuff I value more than all the money in the world
Here are the emails they sent me:
We are so grateful for our visit to Smiling With Hope Bakery today! It was a highlight for us today. THe pizza is THE best pizza we have ever had…and when we arrived home from NHS, the rest of our family arrived from the airport, in time to enjoy the pizza you sent home with us..they REALLY enjoyed it! Thanks you for your time and tour today. My family would like to add their comments…see below:)
see you soon,
So…I live in Chicago and have been to one of the "approved/licensed" neapolitan pizza places called Spacca Napoli. Their pizzas are some of the best I've ever had, but the pizza that was waiting for me when I got off the plane today was as every bit as delicious as those, if not even MORE so. The lightness of the crust…the sweetness of the tomatoes…it's just absolutely perfect. Thank you, thank you, thank you to you and your students for sharing this gift with us!!
Rachael Chicago, IL
Walter---truly a pleasure getting to meet you and your students and an honor to see your operation! We were extremely impressed with the organization and cleanliness, and truly a testament to you and your students hard work and dedication to the facility. The pizza was AWESOME, and some of the best I've had (its all about the crust!). We are enthralled with your work and what you have built and accomplished at Newark High School, and wish you the best of luck with future endeavors in Reno, or wherever your blank checks take you! You now have a friend in the industry and I will send you all my info once I get back to the kitchens at Disney, and I do hope you let us know when you are back in Florida! We look forward to hearing your progress throughout the year, and please don't ever hesitate to reach out if you need anything from us! Wishing you the best to you and your students, and we will be in touch for sure.
All the best,
Brad and Sherri, Orlando
Hi Walter! Thank you so much for the delicious homemade pizza! Due to living in multiple different states, my entire immediate family is seldom under one roof together. However, this weekend is one of them, and the very first meal we all got to enjoy together was YOUR amazing, homemade New Jersey pizza! It was such a gift for all of us to come together, and to enjoy a meal that not only tasted delicious, but was made by such talented students, thanks to their talented teacher! Thank you so much for giving us the gift of a family meal, something that everyone of us enjoyed, as the empty pizza box indicates
It was a wonderful meal, thanks to you. Thank you again, and I hope to be able to meet the famous Walter one day!
Holly, St. Louis