Author Topic: Donatos Take & Bake  (Read 2295 times)

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Offline Aimless Ryan

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Donatos Take & Bake
« on: February 23, 2014, 02:29:18 PM »
I'm gonna start off this thread by sharing the pictures of a Donatos take & bake pizza I made about a month ago. It's the only take & bake pizza I've ever made. There's not much of anything special about the pictures, I guess, but the back of the packaging is very telling.

Peter, even though I don't think you've ever had Donatos, you seem to know just about everything about it except how it tastes. So I think you might be especially interested in the ingredient list. There are some things that surprised me when I read the list, and some other things that kinda flipped on a lightbulb.

I baked the pizza precisely according to the instructions.

This pizza was not bad. It tasted more like a Donatos pizza than it looks. There were a couple noticeable differences, though. For example, it tasted like the dough had absorbed a lot of the sauce, as it was probably assembled a few days before I baked it. Also, the crust felt a little more bready than actual Donatos pizza. But it was pretty darn close to the real thing. I think it's basically the same thing as a real Donatos pizza. And if so, that means the ingredient list may be priceless to anyone who really loves Donatos.

Well, here are all the pics I took.


Offline Yeller

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2014, 09:27:35 AM »
Thanks Ryan, we bought a couple at Krogers one day, just not the same. I always thought it was funny that Massey's Pizza was a Donatos clone, sometimes could not tell the difference except the price. Since my business was in Gahanna, I used to stop a Gahanna Pizza Plus and get one to take home. When we went to friends in Bexley we'd do Bexely PP or walk to Rubinos old style and cheap.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 09:36:07 AM by Yeller »

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 11:29:39 AM »
I had Massey's once. It was definitely just like Donatos. One thing I liked about Massey's is that they keep about 100 skins on peels (on a cart in the kitchen) to proof the skins. No pans. (It seems like you could do that without dedicating one peel for each skin, though.)

I live right across the street from a Kroger, so I walk right by the Donatos take and bake display almost every time I get groceries. If I ever get another one of these, I'll probably remove all the pepperoni and re-apply it in basically concentric circles to make it look more like a real Donatos pizza. I suspect these pizzas are assembled by machines.

How long has Massey's been around? Having pretty much always lived in west/southwest Franklin County, I've never been exposed much to Massey's (or anything else on the east side). However, they do advertise a lot on local TV these days.

I'll have to try Rubino's someday. It's been mentioned a few times around here. I've kinda wanted to try Gahanna Pizza Plus for about ten years, too. I'm not much of a pizza consumer (unless I have to consume a specific pizza to better understand its characteristics so I can attempt to clone it).

Offline Yeller

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2014, 03:14:00 PM »
Gahanna or Bexley PP is worth the trip. Mostly like a Chicago thin. I think Masseys started in late 40's in Whitehall, probably east main st. Problem is usually Donatos and Masseys is not crisp enough for me that's why I like PP. I never got to Tommys either. Jet's is popular but too thick for me. You might get over to Arlington on 5th Ave is Deweys, pretty good.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 06:26:34 PM »
You apparently already know I'm "the Tommy's guy." ;D

I've had Dewey's once, near Kings Island, where my brother lives. I really didn't care for it.

The one time I've had Massey's was on the north side of East Main, I believe. I guess that's Whitehall. (Could have been Broad Street, but I think it was Main.) I can't remember the specifics of the location because I walked there from the Pacific Ocean. My mom met me there because I had just dropped and ruined my pedometer, and I needed her to get me a new one while I was still basically at home.

It just occurred to me that my neurologist is at the Gahanna OSU location (formerly a Big Bear, I think). I'll have to go to GPP with my mom after my next neurology appointment. I've been in GPP once, but I didn't get anything. Seems like there's no dining area, from what I remember. Is that correct?

Offline Yeller

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 08:36:21 AM »
That's correct it's take out only unless they expanded last 3 years. I doubt you get far down the street without eating. The old hippie guy in there is Jack, he's one of the partners, super nice guy. Your Dr. is next to WG Grinders, another CMH place I miss. I used to have a window cleaning business downtown Gahanna.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2014, 10:44:42 AM »
Here's some information I originally intended to include in the original post. It's the list of ingredients on the back of the take & bake packaging, in case my picture of the packaging is not clear enough to read:

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH: enriched flour [bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, potassium bromate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, dry mix [maltodextrin, nonfat dry milk, sugar, salt, encapsulated salt, starch], breadcrumbs [bleached wheat flour, yeast, sugar, and salt], whole eggs, yeast, soybean oil, cornmeal, dough conditioner [sodium metabisulfate and other edible excipients]

SAUCE: tomato puree [water, tomato paste], sugar, salt, citric acid, spices, xantham gum and extractives of paprika

PROVOLONE (I'm not transcribing the ingredients for this because I don't consider it necessary)

PEPPERONI  (I'm not transcribing the ingredients for this because I don't consider it necessary)

ROMANO/OREGANO BLEND (I'm not transcribing the ingredients for this because I don't consider it necessary)

CONTAINS: Egg, Milk, Wheat



There are a few things on the ingredient list that stand out to me. First is "potassium bromate." I'm thinking "potassium bromate" suggests that this dough is made with hi gluten flour. I did not expect to see "potassium bromate" listed as an ingredient. That's one of the things I hoped Peter would notice and maybe discuss.

Another thing that stuck out to me was "whole eggs." I thought Donatos had switched from whole eggs to powdered eggs.

The other thing that stood out was the inclusion of sugar in the sauce. I have not included sugar in my Donatos sauce, and I don't think there used to be sugar in their sauce (or at least much sugar). However, when I had Donatos last summer, there was a very noticeable amount of sugar in the sauce. I think the added sugar may be a fairly recent change.

So here's my translation of important dough and sauce ingredients, listed with most heavily used ingredients first (according to the packaging, which I think is somewhat misleading due to the use of "dry mix" and whatnot).

DOUGH
HG Flour (bromated)
Water
(Nonfat dry milk, Sugar, Salt)
Breadcrumbs
Whole eggs
Yeast
Soybean oil

This is interesting because my current Donatos dough formula has eggs listed as the third most heavily used ingredient, and by far (see below). I can't figure out why breadcrumbs is listed before eggs.

I didn't list cornmeal because I'm fairly certain cornmeal is only used on the bottom of the skins, which suggests that the cornmeal percentage is very small. Similarly, I didn't list dough conditioner because it's listed after cornmeal, which suggests its percentage is also very small.

MY CURRENT DONATOS DOUGH
100% HG flour
35% Water
10.8% Egg
3.8% Oil
1.3% Salt
?? Nonfat dry milk
0.9% Sugar
0.5% ADY

I've only tried cloning Donatos once, but this dough was very close to Donatos dough. (I know it was close because I worked at Donatos for well over a year.)

SAUCE
Water
Tomato paste
Sugar
Salt
Basil

I think the sauce is fairly straightforward. If you know what Donatos sauce tastes like, you can probably nail it with just this list. But one thing most people may not know about Donatos sauce is that it's almost the consistency of a liquid.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2014, 10:53:12 AM »
Also, my current Donatos dough is based largely on the work of Peter and a couple other long-gone members who were trying to figure out Donatos several years ago. I made some changes from their information (particularly I decreased the hydration considerably), but I think my formula is pretty close to what they were doing. And I felt like most of their information was very good and helpful.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2014, 04:15:19 PM »
Ryan,

Thank you for typing out the ingredients. I had tried to enlarge the photo of the ingredients list but it was still difficult to make out all of the details so your typing out the information is very helpful.

As for the use of potassium bromate, it is very common to use potassium bromate for both bread and high-gluten flours. You will almost never see an all-purpose flour bromated. If you check out this page at the General Mills website, at http://www.professionalbakingsolutions.com/flour/type/spring-patent, you will see several GM flours that satisfy the Donato's ingredients for the flour they are using. See, for example, the Full Strength flour at http://www.professionalbakingsolutions.com/product/full-strength-flour-bleached-bromated-enriched-malted-100-lb/53380000?mct=Flour&ct=spring-patent&typ=Type.

What I found most interesting was the inclusion of breadcrumbs. If I had to guess, maybe the breadcrumbs are spread on top of the skin or on top of the cheese and before the toppings to help soak up excess liquids. I read about this at the PMQ Think Tank at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=8873&p=60337&hilit=#p60337. See, also, the PMQTT threads at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7901&p=54218&hilit=#p54204, http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2089&hilit= and http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5691&hilit=. If you take the breadcrumbs out of the equation, the eggs move up a spot in the ingredients list.

I don't recall offhand where the oil was in the Donato's clone dough but it looks like there is more yeast by weight than oil. This suggests the possibility that the skin is coated with a modest amount of oil to help keep the sauce from migrating into the skin in the period between the time of purchase and the time that the pizza is baked. The breadcrumbs might also help in this regard, particularly to prevent a gum line. You might find it interesting to read this article by Tom Lehmann on some of the challenges in making take-and-bake pizzas: http://www.pizzatoday.com/departments/in-the-kitchen/take-n-bake-pizza/. When I played around with take-and-bake doughs several years ago, I saw that there were problems that were unique to take-and-bake pizzas that had to be taken into account.

Peter

Offline Yeller

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2014, 05:19:52 PM »
Thanks Ryan, if I remember right the breadcrumbs were scatted on top of the toppings I remember seeing them on top of the pepperoni or maybe both on the skin and on top. As far as the sauce it was bland like I mentioned before like a tomato soup concentrate. I don't think the basil was in the sauce but used on top with or Italian seasoning sprinkled on the finished pie.


Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2014, 07:16:54 PM »
Yeller, that would be the romano mix (romano and oregano), which is shaken pretty liberally onto every Donatos pizza just before it enters the oven. The pizza in my pictures did not have any noticeable romano mix (or "birdseed") on it. I'm thinking the bread crumbs are probably on the bottom of the crust, along with the cornmeal, to simulate the look of a pizza that has been peeled into a deck oven. It's hard to know this kind of stuff even after working there for quite a while because most of the important stuff is done at the commissary. At this point the bread crumbs are inconsequential to me.

Good description of the sauce. That's basically what it is, except I think there is a lot more sugar in it nowadays. If I remember correctly from the first time I worked at Donatos (back in 1992), they used Heinz or Hunts tomato sauce straight out of the can. (I was a driver, so there was no real reason for me to know things like this.) When I last worked at Donatos, about ten years ago, the sauce came in a bag already prepared, which was hooked up to a sauce dispenser in the prep area. I think there is basil in the sauce; just not a lot of basil.

Even though I've been easing back into a very strict modified paleo diet (no pizza or much of anything I really want to eat), I've been wanting to take some more stabs at cloning Donatos. Especially since I just moved and have been trying to get a feel for my oven. My friend Julie has helped me by coming over a couple times already to eat my pizza, along with others, but I need more people to come over. If it doesn't happen, I'm gonna start making pizzas for neighbors I haven't met yet and the fire department around the corner (who helped me turn a scary situation into a manageable situation after a hose came undone and flooded my kitchen about a week after I moved in). In fact, I've already bought a case of pizza boxes.

Peter, I'm sure I have a ton to say in response to your post, but that'll have to happen later. Thanks, as always, for your contribution.

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2014, 09:01:51 PM »
Ryan,

I originally thought that the bread crumbs might have been used on the bottom of the pizza but I was looking for something like the foil pan as described in a review article at http://www.columbusalive.com//content/stories/2009/06/17/ca_fo_taste.html. But when I looked at the bake instructions on the box that you showed in the opening post, I did not see any pan mentioned. Rather, the pizza is put naked on an oven rack. On that basis, I concluded that the bread crumbs were on top.

I might mention that I once saw a pizza maker at Papa Gino's in Massachusetts make one of their Rustic pizzas that had bread crumbs on the bottom. I saw a co-worker put what looked like bread crumbs on a sheet of parchment paper, and the pizza maker put the skin and dressed it directly on the sheet of parchment paper. The pizza was then baked in their rotating ferris-wheel oven. I later asked the co-worker what it was that he put on the sheet of parchment paper and why he did that. He replied that the bread crumbs were Panko bread crumbs and were used mostly for flavor. I viewed the sheet of parchment paper as the way of keeping the bread crumbs from getting onto the stone or metal bake surface. The PG Panko bread crumbs comprise "Enriched bleached wheat flour (niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), dextrose, salt, yeast (http://www.papaginos.com/nutrition/ingredients/).

Since you had the Donato's take and bake pizza, I suspect that you know the answer to the bread crumb mystery, and why the crumbs and cornmeal don't fall through the oven rack.

Peter
« Last Edit: February 25, 2014, 09:11:42 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2014, 01:19:34 PM »
Peter, I just read the Columbus Alive article you linked to. (I haven't even read beyond your first paragraph yet.) I think the article must be somewhat old because, as you noticed, the pizza I bought didn't come with any kind of pan. Mine was packaged on a piece of cardboard, and the instructions say to use the cardboard like a peel; to bake the pizza directly on the oven rack.

I don't know what this means about bread crumbs. I'm still inclined to think the bread crumbs are on the bottom of the skin (or possibly in the dough). But the fact that "breadcrumbs" is listed before eggs bugs me. Especially because it says "whole eggs," rather than powdered eggs. It would make sense for bread crumbs to be listed ahead of eggs if the eggs were powdered. But this doesn't make sense to me. Maybe I'm just thinking in the wrong direction.

One thing I noted in the Columbus Alive article is that the writer said, not unlike what I said, "it tasted like a well-made Donatos pizza." To me the only real differences were: 1) It tasted like the sauce had soaked into the dough, and 2) The crust was more bready/less crispy than a real Donatos pizza (as if the skin had been allowed to proof for longer than normal). I'm inclined to think these pizzas use the same dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings as a regular Donatos pizza, which I guess is why I've given this thing so much attention.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2014, 01:55:38 PM »
In response to the rest of your post, Peter, I think your Papa Gino's explanation could be very similar to an explanation for why Donatos lists bread crumbs as an ingredient. If you look at my upskirt pic in the original post, you see plenty of what looks like cornmeal on the bottom of the crust. I know there is cornmeal there; I just don't know if some of what appears to be cornmeal may be bread crumbs.

At Donatos stores, no one adds cornmeal to the bottom of the skins. Rather, the cornmeal is added at the commissary. Donatos skins arrive frozen, stacked in boxes of about 50. (The frozen dough disks are completely flat, docked, and are about 1/8" or 1/6" thick.) My hypothesis for this is that cornmeal (and bread crumbs?) used to be necessary for peeling the skins into the oven. When they went to conveyors, I suspect, even though they no longer needed the cornmeal (and bread crumbs?), it had become so much a part of the pizza that they decided it was necessary to continue adding cornmeal (and bread crumbs?) to the bottom of the skins, because that's what their customers were used to.

Same thing with Cassano's in Dayton. Cassano's has salt on the bottom of the crust, which I believe was originally used as an alternative to flour on a peel. Even though salt may not have originally been used specifically in an effort to add a salty flavor to the pizza, it did add a salty flavor to the pizza, and that salty flavor became a signature of Cassano's pizza. So even though they no longer needed to use salt (once they began baking on pans in conveyor ovens), they did need salt on the bottom of the pizza to keep the signature flavor that all their customers had grown so used to.

The one time I tried cloning Donatos, I rolled the skin to the point where I was mostly done rolling it, then I dropped a small handful of cornmeal onto my work surface and finished rolling the dough on top of the cornmeal, to make sure plenty of the cornmeal was embedded in the bottom of the skin. Would love to see how they do this in the commissary.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 03:05:37 PM by Aimless Ryan »

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2014, 02:36:10 PM »
I don't recall offhand where the oil was in the Donato's clone dough but it looks like there is more yeast by weight than oil. This suggests the possibility that the skin is coated with a modest amount of oil to help keep the sauce from migrating into the skin in the period between the time of purchase and the time that the pizza is baked. The breadcrumbs might also help in this regard, particularly to prevent a gum line. You might find it interesting to read this article by Tom Lehmann on some of the challenges in making take-and-bake pizzas: http://www.pizzatoday.com/departments/in-the-kitchen/take-n-bake-pizza/. When I played around with take-and-bake doughs several years ago, I saw that there were problems that were unique to take-and-bake pizzas that had to be taken into account.

You might be onto something here. I never prepped skins at Donatos (because I was a driver), but I couldn't help noticing how the kitchen workers prepped skins. From what I remember, they sprayed the frozen skins with nonstick spray (or something like that). My memory says they sprayed the top of the skins, but they may also have sprayed the bottom (or only the bottom). I'm gonna say they sprayed only the top, though.

After spraying each skin, they placed it on a dark perforated pan and slid it onto a rack with wheels. When the rack was full, it was placed in the walk-in cooler, covered on all sides except the bottom. Before about 2000, the rack would have been put into a proofer (probably without being covered), and the dough would be used within hours. But after about 2000, they began storing the skins in the walk-in, to be used a day or two later.

I'm pretty sure there was nothing like bread crumbs on the tops of the skins, though. But maybe that's something different that they do for take and bake. (I haven't read the Pizza Today article yet.)

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2014, 02:46:46 PM »
I remember Dough Doctor Tom saying it was very rare to see whole eggs in a commercial pizza dough...are you sure that is what Donatos are using?

Bob
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Offline thezaman

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2014, 05:57:37 PM »
This is a fascinating thread. i love donatos pizza and would love to learn how to clone it. i always ordered  plain cheese with extra sauce which was swirled on top of the pizza. there original thin was the only one that was any good. i know that the breadcrumbs are a weird addition. i could see it as a addition to the parm and oregano as it would be a cost saver as well as add some texture.i am going to have to give this recipe a try!!! we have none left in our area and no krogers to buy take and bakes. when my daughter went to school in findlay ohio i had one from Kroger. it was a very good pizza.

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2014, 06:04:07 PM »
I remember Dough Doctor Tom saying it was very rare to see whole eggs in a commercial pizza dough...are you sure that is what Donatos are using?

Bob

Bob,

You are correct. Eggs are uncommon in pizza dough. For years, Donato's proclaimed the use of milk and eggs in their dough, presumably to emphasize the positive nutritional aspects of their pizzas. Then, one day, maybe when eggs and high-fat milk became villains in the nutrition world, they stopped mentioning altogether that they were using milk and eggs. But, to this day, there are few pizza operators who admit that they are using eggs. Bruno Fabio is one, and there is a fellow in Australia (wa dave, at the PMQ Think Tank) who also uses eggs in his dough, but there are few others who will say that they are using eggs in their doughs.

Tom Lehmann was always concerned about cross contamination problems, even when the eggs are pasteurized, which he discusses in one of his PMQ Think Tank posts in the thread at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5615&hilit=, but I would be inclined to believe that there are better controls at the Donato's commissary than exist with independent pizza operators who might be using fresh eggs at the store level. Also, as Ryan mentioned, the Donato's skins are frozen at the commissary and delivered to their stores. There is no way that Donato's would be oblivious to the issue of cross contamination. They wouldn't put their business and reputation at risk because they were reckless about the cross contamination issue. There must be zero risk of cross contamination with the Donato's take and bake pizzas.

Peter

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2014, 06:29:37 PM »
Ryan,

I think in due course we will get the story on the breadcrumbs.

I was curious to see if the breadcrumbs were a creature of take and bake pizzas, so I did a search to see if that was the case. One example I found is this one: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Marketside-16-Inch-Ultimate-Meat-Traditional-Crust-Pizza-55.5-oz/10449798.

I think there may well be some credence to your explanation of how the breadcrumbs came to be a part of the Donato's pizzas. The use of breadcrumbs as a peel release agent has been known for some time. More than once, Tom Lehmann has mentioned breadcrumbs as a peel release agent, including on this forum, at Reply 7 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=26035.msg262506;topicseen#msg262506. Even I, as far back as 2004, mentioned breadcrumbs as a release agent, at Reply 7 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=515.msg4509;topicseen#msg4509.

Peter

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Re: Donatos Take & Bake
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2014, 06:32:28 PM »
Bob,

You are correct. Eggs are uncommon in pizza dough. For years, Donato's proclaimed the use of milk and eggs in their dough, presumably to emphasize the positive nutritional aspects of their pizzas. Then, one day, maybe when eggs and high-fat milk became villains in the nutrition world, they stopped mentioning altogether that they were using milk and eggs. But, to this day, there are few pizza operators who admit that they are using eggs. Bruno Fabio is one, and there is a fellow in Australia (wa dave, at the PMQ Think Tank) who also uses eggs in his dough, but there are few others who will say that they are using eggs in their doughs.

Tom Lehmann was always concerned about cross contamination problems, even when the eggs are pasteurized, which he discusses in one of his PMQ Think Tank posts in the thread at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5615&hilit=, but I would be inclined to believe that there are better controls at the Donato's commissary than exist with independent pizza operators who might be using fresh eggs at the store level. Also, as Ryan mentioned, the Donato's skins are frozen at the commissary and delivered to their stores. There is no way that Donato's would be oblivious to the issue of cross contamination. They wouldn't put their business and reputation at risk because they were reckless about the cross contamination issue. There must be zero risk of cross contamination with the Donato's take and bake pizzas.

Peter
OK, just a thought I had to try and alleviate the pecking order you guys are discussing.
I'm with Larry...this is an interesting thread Ryan has initiated.  :chef:

For any locals wondering.....the Donatos take and bake is at the Kroger here in NC.

Bob
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 06:34:03 PM by Chicago Bob »
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