Author Topic: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza  (Read 12967 times)

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Offline Grog

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Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« on: July 24, 2007, 03:56:21 PM »
What is it with celebrity chefs and bad pizza?  I just watched an episode of "Jamie at Home" (episode 13 of the 1st season), which was about pizza. 

To start a sauce, Oliver sauteed basil, garlic, and EVOO into a pan.  He added 3 cans of whole tomatoes, which he sort of chopped up in the pan with a spoon and seasoned with salt and pepper.  After reaching a boil, he poured the resulting stew into a strainer.  Then, he ditched the solids and kept the strained juice!!!  He boiled down the tomato juice until it reached the consistency of regular tomato sauce.

For the dough, he used 0.8 kilo of strong flour and 0.2 kilo of semolina (for color and because it he believes it tastes better).  He poured the flour onto the prep table, made a crater, then poured in 550 ml tepid water, 1 tbsp salt, 4 tbsp EVOO, and 2 packets of IDY.  He made the dough like most cooks make pasta, with a "volcano" of flour.  Very strange.  After kneading, he threw some bench dough into a bowl, dropped in the dough, and let it rise for 45 min to 1 hr.

To prepare the pizza, he shaped the dough with a roller and cooked it, not on a pizza stone, but on a granite slab, which is one of the "best things at mimicking what a wood oven does ... a massive cheat."  Are pizza stones not available in the UK?  He pulled the granite out of the oven, dressed the pizza while the dough was cooking on the granite, and then put everything into the oven until it turned into hard , thin cracker.  He even thumped the bottom of the crust with his finger to show how hard it was.  He threw some arugula and prosciutto on top and then called it a "really nice, book-standard beautiful pizza."

For the second half of the show, Oliver made a large 4-section pizza, prepared on a large wooden cutting board.  One section had shrimp and clams, another had egg and celery, etc., you get the idea.  He cooked it in a brick oven not for 30-seconds, but for 8 minutes.  Yikes.

So has anyone else seen this episode?  Am I going too far in saying that Oliver's pizzas are the most unappetizing pizzas ever made on TV by a celebrity chef?  Even more egregious than what Gordon Ramsay did on the F-Word a few weeks ago?  It wouldn't have bothered me so much except that my mom worships Oliver and now is pestering me to make pizzas the same way he does.   :-X


Offline canadianbacon

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2007, 04:09:23 PM »
I saw an episode last night or the night before of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares...... where Chef Ramsay said something nasty about Oliver's cooking, not sure if this is what you were talking about though.  ( it was an episode where he's helping a chef who has a very bad drinking problem )

As for the F-word - if you watch Kitchen Nightmares, it's full of bad language, the "F-word" is used every 5 seconds --- my daughter says Chef Ramsay has a potty mouth  :-D , I thought his new series was bad ( he uses a lot of bad language ) and they bleep it all out, but this Kitchen Nightmares one is totally unedited.


So has anyone else seen this episode?  Am I going too far in saying that Oliver's pizzas are the most unappetizing pizzas ever made on TV by a celebrity chef?  Even more egregious than what Gordon Ramsay did on the F-Word a few weeks ago?  It wouldn't have bothered me so much except that my mom worships Oliver and now is pestering me to make pizzas the same way he does.   :-X
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Offline David

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2007, 08:45:19 PM »
I haven't seen it,but am quite surprised and disappointed to hear your comments.I actually liked his previous shows and his refreshingly down to earth attitude,as compared to many seemingly pompous (take themselves too seriously ) Chefs.The fact that his cooking is heavily influenced by his formative years spent in Italy and under the wings of Rogers and Gray at the River Cafe - I would have expected much better,or at least an explanation for his approach to Pizza? I'll have to wait and see the episode.
As for Gordon Ramsay....his early British TV series where he went in as a trouble shooter to restaurants in distress ,was both enlightening,entertaining and believable.Everthing he has done on this side of the Atlantic however has been pretty awful IMO and is definitely a case of him selling out to capitalize on his notoriety and satisfy his producers.Sad.......but I hope he is making a fortune !
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Offline Grog

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2007, 08:39:54 AM »
I have a lot of respect for Gordon Ramsay.  He's a real chef, and he's got the Michelin-starred restaurants to prove it.  Although his food is usually spectacular, the pizza he made in the last episode of the F-word looked pedestrian.

BTW, I watch all of his shows -- F-Word, Restaurant Nightmares, and Hell's Kitchen.  They are very entertaining.  I think that his profanity is funny, because it is so blatant and done in a context (network tv) where you are supposed to suppress the urge.  In this week's Hell's Kitchen, he dropped the f bomb at a high school.  From my experience, profanity in the back of a restaurant gets pretty raunchy.  It seems Ramsay doesn't change his vocabulary for tv.   I suppose this wouldn't be as entertaining if I had impressionable young kids around the tv.

I've seen lots of Jamie Oliver shows in the past, and my sense is that he is not meticulous and likes to throw stuff together (which doesn't work so well for pizza).  More often than not, the finished result looks unappetizing. 

The only celebrity chef I know who can get away with throwing stuff together is Mario Batali.  Although I have never seen him make pizza on tv, I give him a lot of pizza cred because of what I read in the book "Heat," and because he is one of the owners of Mozza in LA. 
 
So now you all are getting an idea of how much TV I watch...   :-D

Offline vitus

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2007, 11:32:55 AM »
I guess it's exactly the same as what happened to the "three tenors"; Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras. All three were great singers, but then they became part of popular culture and started doing all kinds of things that they really had no clue about.
Trained opera singers trying to do pop ballads isn't exactly the best of two worlds combined in perfect harmony...  :-\

I respect Gordon Ramsay as a chef too, but I would respect him even more if he knew his own limits.
He is an expert of fine French cuisine, but that doesn't mean that he is also an expert Italian chef or pizzaiolo. I doubt that he could make eg. traditional Armenian food better than an Armenian housewife too...  ;)

Offline bakerboy

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2007, 08:05:39 PM »
I also didn't see that episode but i'm not surprised at all.  Now that you've noticed this, take notice from now on how often any of these telvision chefs and/or celebrity chefs try their hand at bread or pizza making.  they don't.  When they do, they really fall down.  It ain't their cup of tea.  I can't count the times i watched someone make a pizza by rising some dough out of proportion then smashing down, working it with a rolling pin until its tight as a superball, then slopping a bunch of stuff like fresh arugula and cherry tomatos on top, (which looks pretty, post-bake) toss it in the oven and in 8 min, retrieve a mess.  Don't get me started.  i could go on all night like an old war vet about the unspeakable atrocities i have witnessed!!.  I watched Emeril try to make pumpernickel on his show once.  I wanted to throw myself through a window!!
    Seriously though, most people on this site know more about dough hydration, rising times, and protein levels than jamie oliver and gordon ramsey put together ( i'm a fan of both and i've never seen a "baking class" on Hells Kitchen) because this is a different animal.  Its a craft that you simply MUST work at if your going to be good.  They make a sauce five different times, it comes out exactly the same EVERY time.  You make a dough with exactly the same ingredients five times and you might get five different results depending on any one of a multitude of variables which could conspire against you.  I know ALOT of you (myself included) have been on that frustrating boat.  Thats the difference between us and them:  we keep trying over and over until we get it right, because we KNOW when its right, and when its right we're rewarded with an awesome pizza....They, on the other hand, are rewarded with 5 star restaurants and multimillion dollar contracts. (Damn i KNEW i was going to come out on the short end of that stick!!)
cheers
Barry

Offline enchant

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2007, 10:53:23 AM »
Now that you've noticed this, take notice from now on how often any of these telvision chefs and/or celebrity chefs try their hand at bread or pizza making.  they don't.  When they do, they really fall down.  It ain't their cup of tea.
This is so true.

I think that much of it stems from the lack of traditional cooking on most shows. No one wants to show you how to cook something that's been perfected over centuries.  They want to show you something original, and more than anything, they want to be entertaining.  I find Jamie Oliver very very entertaining. It's hard not to like the guy or want to hang around with him.  But I've tried a couple of his recipes and they did nothing at all for me. He said to cook something with the oven set at "full whack".  I think my full whack and his full whack are very different whacks.  I wound up ruining the pan. So I watch him for the entertainment value and get my kitchen education elsewhere.

If you want to make a pizza, make a pizza.  They're wonderful.  But if you want to take a bunch of ingredients that vaguely resemble pizza ingredients and throw them together, call it something else.
--pat--

Offline drroger

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2007, 09:57:39 PM »
I have to give one celebrity chef a shout out. I was fascinated by Alton Brown's pizza episode.  Tinkering with his basic recipe is what got me to go to a fan website then eventually to this nirvana of pizza making. His was close, just not right totally for my kitchen conditions.

Offline yaddayaddayadda

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2007, 08:05:07 AM »
I have to give one celebrity chef a shout out. I was fascinated by Alton Brown's pizza episode.  Tinkering with his basic recipe is what got me to go to a fan website then eventually to this nirvana of pizza making. His was close, just not right totally for my kitchen conditions.

With all due respect to Alton Brown....I love his show and have one of his books - His advice is about as far away from some of the advice on this site as you can get. I got inconsistent results from his recipe (as found in the newbie board) - but have fantastic results adapting the changes I've found here.

I'll give you that his show can be an inspiration, and I have the pizza episode saved on the Tivo....but the recipe certainly didn't work for me.

Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2007, 10:25:35 AM »
Hi all,
I think you have to appreciate where you are at on the topic and who the intended audience is.
I am certain BBQ folks would tell you never to follow the Food Network shows to make really good BBQ.
Alton Brown actually tackled homebrew in one show (!) but clearly no real homebrewer would say "yeah, that's how you do it".
I'll bet there are people out there discussing the absolute best way to make a blueberry muffin or contemplating how sad it is that most of us don't make our pasta fresh.

 Truth is these shows open doors. there was a time I thought all pizza and bbq came from restaurants, good beer came from the liquor store, etc.  Now I prefer my own creations to anything "from the store".  Just last night I was working on bbq sauce for the weekend thinking I can't believe I used to buy bbq sauce from the store.

I just hope that when the show opens the door to the idea of do-it-yourself, the person then finds a great forum like this (if their interest takes them there) !!


Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2007, 10:27:29 AM »
Also worth noting on Alton Brown, his recipe from his show and the recipe in his book (for pizza) are very different, so he hardly is endorsing one recipe as the "right" one.
I am sure having heard his very scientific commentary that if you got him into a discussion he'd have a lot more to say on pizza that you would agree with than not.

Offline yaddayaddayadda

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2007, 10:48:46 AM »
Also worth noting on Alton Brown, his recipe from his show and the recipe in his book (for pizza) are very different, so he hardly is endorsing one recipe as the "right" one.
I am sure having heard his very scientific commentary that if you got him into a discussion he'd have a lot more to say on pizza that you would agree with than not.

Absolutely. Again, I'm a huge AB fan...but you have to know that your average person who sticks to recipes and is a complete novice (as I was to pizza making) could get completely discouraged by a bad experience.   I contemplated several times throwing in the towel, and I'm a fairly good cook and food nerd.  If the goal is to bring cooking as an art back to our culture, things like the anecdotes in this thread aren't helpful.

Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2007, 10:52:29 AM »
Hi,
 
If I provided an anecdote that was not helpful I apologize, certainly not trying to take anything on a negative course.  as to "the goal", I think everyone's goal is different, that's what makes the world go around.  Even within this forum people have drastically different goals, constrained by time, interest, competing interests, finances, etc.

Offline yaddayaddayadda

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2007, 11:56:59 AM »
Hi,
 
If I provided an anecdote that was not helpful I apologize, certainly not trying to take anything on a negative course.  as to "the goal", I think everyone's goal is different, that's what makes the world go around.  Even within this forum people have drastically different goals, constrained by time, interest, competing interests, finances, etc.


ACK!  :-[ No, I apologize. Brain thinking faster than fingers can type. Please accept my apologies. What I meant to type was that the anecdotes in this thread show that some RECIPES or celebrity chefs aren't helpful to people who are venturing out on cooking for the first time.

What I mean by that is a novice cook tries something (not just pizza) by someone they see on TV, they have disappointing results.  They, being novices, blame themselves, since the person on TV is obviously famous, and a good cook, and made it look so easy.

Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2007, 12:26:21 PM »
gotcha... and a VERY good point!!
I still find that I make things from what are considered to be very good books, but it doesn't come out looking like the picture!!!

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2007, 01:06:13 PM »
I still find that I make things from what are considered to be very good books, but it doesn't come out looking like the picture!!!

That's where the food stylists come in... and their job is to make the food look better than anything the consumer could ever make at home!  Our company (large, local, upscale grocery store in the Puget Sound area) hired a food stylist, for the Grand Opening of our store, to come into the deli and "style" all our salads and entrees in the service case... she was in there with a pair of tweezers, putting each leaf of spinach and piece of farfale JUST SO and then spraying it all with some kinda shellac to make it "glisten".... and she was a complete snoot.  Her nose was so high in the air, I'm surprised she didn't drown when it rained!  :-D

And how about those billboard ads for McD's hamburgers...or Burger King's??  Ever seen one like that in any store of theirs??  I'm surprised they (and all the rest of the fast food companies) aren't sued for false advertising!

My point, of course, is that it's really not fair to have a picture of the finished product that is so unrealistic that the consumer is put off by their lack of ability to reproduce it... and probably the majority of people out there aren't aware that they're being set up for "failure" because they can't make it look like the picture!  They should have to put a disclaimer in the books they publish:  "This food created by a Food Stylist; your results may vary!"

~sd
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Offline Grog

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2007, 03:42:44 PM »
The irony of Jamie Oliver's pizza is that despite the budget and the food pros, the pizza looked terrible!  It looked like a bloody cracker!  Far, far worse than what I make at home in my crap 475 degree gas oven, using crappy Argentinean bread flour that my local bakery sells to me from their bulk bags.  (Those of you living in the US have it easy, with all of that awesome $3 King Arthur bread flour at Whole Foods.)

BTW, I just watched the Alton Brown episode on pizza.  It is called "Flat is Beautiful", from the 3rd season of Good Eats. I got it from the digitaldistractions tracker, and it also will air on the Food Network in September.  By the standards of this forum, I think Brown's recipe is respectable:  2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, 3/4 cup warm water, 2 cups bread flour, 1 tspn IDY.  Mix and knead for 15 min a kitchen aid mixer, put in bowl with a little oil to coat, cover and let rise in the fridge for 18-24 hrs.  Form 2 dough balls.  Let rest for 30 min.  Shape into a disc, brush lip with olive oil and dress the pizza.  Bake at highest heat on an unglazed quarry stone. 

What I like about Alton Brown is that he doesn't talk about toppings except in passing. For him, it's all about the crust.

Offline abatardi

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2007, 01:10:20 PM »
Yeah, don't diss Alton.  He gives like the only recipe I've seen where the chef doesn't use like 1 (or 2!) entire packets of rapidrise and counter rise it for like half an hour ("until it's doubled").  He even calls for an overnight fridge retard, so that's cool.  I think the only place he really went wrong was not giving the recipe by weight, as he has done with a lot of other recipes.  Also his dough was too salty, but he even made a note on foodnetwork.com and said they researched it, found that flake size varied between brands of kosher salt and to drop the salt by a teaspoon (one more area where doing it by weight would have helped). 

- aba
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Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2007, 08:20:12 AM »
to your point more generally, Alton Brown is THE reason I started watching the Food Network more frequently.  It started as safe, benign tv with two little children and Good Eats got me interested.  still love the show and turn to the network more often.

Offline yaddayaddayadda

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Re: Celebrity Chefs and Bad Pizza
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2007, 08:47:46 AM »
I don't mean to dogpile on AB.  I already have a season pass for "Feasting on Asphalt" on the DVR. ;) He was just an example of things I've tried that failed when I began pizza making.  Truth be told, I also tried the recipe in the Rao's cookbook as well which didn't turn out too well, either. 


 

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