Everything You Need to Know about Slice Out Hunger: TONIGHT'S $1 Pizza Party
Tonight’s the biggest night of the year for NYC-area pizza lovers. We started Slice Out Hunger as an anniversary party for Scott’s Pizza Tours but it has become a beast of its own over the past six years. It all started when several pizzerias I work with on the tour offered to give me a few free pies for a launch party. Rather than just eat the pizza with my friends, I decided to charge a measly $1 per slice and send all the money to City Harvest. After a year of running the business, we were able to get even more pizza donated and I decided SPT would match every dollar going to City Harvest. The amount of pizza increases every year and as the event gets bigger we’re able to take on sponsors to assist with the donation matching. Last year we raised $20,000 for Food Bank For New York City and this year it’s looking like we’re going to crush that number.
I wanted to take a few minutes before I head out to set up the event space just to give a quick rundown of how the night works and what changed between this year and last.
Lots of people show up but we keep the flow as smooth as possible.
We always run out of pizza. That’s just how the event works. If we don’t run out of pizza we didn’t get the word out enough. In an effort to feed more people who show up and wait in the line, we decided to limit everyone to 10 slices. We have lots of other items that can be purchased with tickets (Brewla Bars, Boylan Sodas, Ferrarelle water, raffle tickets, my mom’s cookies, etc) but only 10 of them can be used for pizza. That being said, we do have 1,300 pizzas this year. That’s 500 MORE than last year. So yeah, there will be a TON of pizza!
My mom makes her famous chocolate chip cookies for this event and they go FAST!
How are we going to keep track of your 10 slices? We’re selling two different tickets this year: RED tickets and BLUE tickets. RED tickets can be used for anything. BLUE tickets cannot be used for pizza. So You can buy a total of 10 RED tickets and unlimited BLUE tickets. If you have leftover tickets at the end of the night, just visit our raffle table and we’ll set you up to win some killer prizes.
But what about the people who get in line super early??? Don’t worry, we’re not capping the number of slices for the first 20 people in line. So if you want to construct a monster pizza with a slice from all 51 pizzerias, just get there super early. We’re also limiting everyone to 1 slice per pizzeria, so you can’t drop $8 at Difara’s table and walk out with an entire pizza.
Last year a genius made labels for all his slices.
When do people start lining up? I’ve arrived at the church at 4pm to set up and folks have already been waiting in line. If you want your choice of pizza, get there early
What’s that? You don’t want to wait in a long line and you love donating to charity? There is a solution. Just head on over to our website, click the DONATE button and drop $100. That gets you and a friend directly to the front of the line without having to wait PLUS you get 10 pizza tickets to start. Buy whatever else you need for just $1 per ticket! Remember, ALL OF THE MONEY we raise goes directly to Food Bank For New York City.
Where are you going to store all those slices? Fear not, we’re giving you an entire pizza box to use for your slices. It’s a GreenBox, the amazing pizza box that breaks down into plates and a storage container for your leftover slices! After the event, you can either hang out and eat inside the venue (floor space only) or you can take your pizza to three bars who have partnered with us for the night. Blue Haven, Peculiar Pub and American Flatbread are allowing our pizza crew to bring our booty to their establishments and enjoy along with exclusive drink deals. Or you can just take your slices home and watch Ghostbusters or something.
Once you’re in the room, you get only one pass through the pizza tables. No going backwards in line because you missed something you wanted, we have to keep all traffic flowing in a single direction. So buy all your tickets when you get inside and grab slices as you pass them.
Here’s the room layout. Plot your SOH experience accordingly!
Will the pizza be warm? This year we have three MPUs (Mobile Pizza Units). Luzzo’s, Valducci’s and Neapolitan Express will each be setting up outside the venue and baking fresh pizzas to be served inside. Go to their tables if you want fresh pizza, but due to the nature of this event and the distances some of the pizza is traveling, it is unlikely the other slices will all be piping hot.
Who gets all the money from this event? Every cent we take in goes directly to Food Bank For New York City. This organization supplies food to shelters and programs around the city. Every dollar they take in results in 15 meals for New Yorkers in need. Here’s the real beauty of tonight’s event: we have a bunch of sponsors who have pledged to donate various amounts based on how much money we raise, so every dollar you spend will actually transform into $3 for Food Bank. That means every slice you eat tonight becomes 15 meals for people who have trouble affording food. Think about that.
Tumblr made an amazing banner for this event!
Who puts this thing together, anyway? There are about six of us who do most of the work for SOH. We’ve had meetings as far back as January of this year just for tonight’s event. This isn’t a job for us, we do it because we want to. There are 80+ volunteers who have attended training meetings and are giving up their time (and their ability to actually participate in the event itself) just to make it happen. St Anthony’s Church has donated their space for the past three years and we could not do this without them. Sponsors like Brewla Bars and GreenBox have been with us since we started and more sponsors like Tumblr (yes, you are reading this ON Tumblr AND they are a sponsor — crazy) and Boylan Bottling are joining this year.
Slice Out Hunger isn’t just about pizza and it isn’t just about charity, it’s about coming together as a community. The restaurant community is notoriously competitive and the pizza scene in NYC is absolutely part of that, yet they all come together to serve pizza side-by-side for one night only. Lucali is closing for the night so their whole staff can attend to help. This event is so incredibly special to me, it’s easily the most important thing I do all year. If you would like to volunteer next year please contact me and we’ll make it happen. If you have any event questions you can try emailing but I’ll be setting up all day so it’s probably best if you just come and ask one of our volunteers in person.
If you’ve come in the past, I hope to see you again tonight. If you’ve always wanted to come, tonight is the night! If you’ve never heard of our event, there is no better time than now to change your life for the better by attending. There’s such an amazing energy in the room beyond the deliciousness of the pizza. It is absolutely incredible. I’ll see you there.
GUEST POST: Liz Barrett, author of Pizza: A Slice of American History
Hey pizza buddies! Today is October 1 and that means it is officially NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH!!! My friend Liz wrote an amazing book about pizza history called Pizza: A Slice of American History and it just came out a couple weeks ago. I am in love with it. Liz and I have shared many slices of pizza, mostly during her tenure as Editor-in-Chief of PMQ’s Pizza Magazine. In honor of her book’s release and National Pizza Month, I invited her to write a guest post about her experience eating New York pizza. I’ll let her take it from here but PLEASE celebrate pizza month by eating pizza and by devouring Liz’s delicious book! I’ll let Liz take it from here.
In lieu of blubbering on and on about my delicious new pizza book, Pizza: A Slice of American History, Scott asked me to talk a little about my past experiences with New York pizza, being that I live in Oxford, Mississippi, which isn’t exactly the pizza capitol of the world.
The first time I traveled to New York was with my mom, brother and sister in July of 2006. I remember hitting all of the typical tourist attractions, dining at Tavern on the Green, and relaxing at a delightful eatery in Little Italy. What I don’t remember is eating a whole lot of pizza. You’ll have to forgive me, but at the time, I was living in Los Angeles before the pizza boom, and had no idea that just a year later I’d be moving to Oxford, Mississippi, where I’d land a job at PMQ, the No. 1 pizza trade magazine in America.
Suffice it to say, my next trip to New York, in October 2007—and every trip since—has been jam packed with pizza! Lucky for me, I’ve had people like Scott to help show me all of the places I may have otherwise missed. Scott and I have gone on some pizza-eating extravaganzas throughout New York that should not be attempted by the average pizza eater. I always walk away with a greater love for pizza and a longer list of pizzerias to visit the next time around.
Over the years, there are three important things I’ve learned about New York pizza:
Ninety-nine percent of it is delicious.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t try every pizzeria.
It pays to know someone like Scott who can show me around.
In Pizza: A Slice of American History, I share some of my photos from various New York pizzeria stops over the years, along with photos and stories from around the country. It’s a book that was seven years in the making, when you count all of the pizzas I’ve eaten! Check it out at your favorite bookseller or during a tour with Scott; you’re sure to see a few familiar faces—or pizzas—in its pages.
HooplaHa is a great website dedicated to spreading the word about awesome, happy, fun things going on all over the place. They came to my apartment to see what it’s like living with the world’s largest collection of pizza boxes and talk about my book, Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box.
We start every Sunday NYC Pizza Bus tour at Lombardi’s in Soho. It’s a perfect launching point for about a million reasons, but it does hamper our ability to visit faraway lands. But there are some magical days in which New York’s epic traffic lets up just enough to make such fantastic jaunts possible. Labor Day weekend is one of those magical times in which this city empties and Big Yellow School Buses are free to cruise as they wish. We use this opportunity to venture to the often forgotten borough of Staten Island, a borough that I strongly feel has some of the best pizzeria in all of NYC.
Here we have Bus Driver Patrick showing that he’s not at all worried about our first dramatic encounter: an accident on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. No problem, we made our way as planned and hit Staten Island Stop #1 - Joe and Pat’s Pizzeria. This place opened in 1960 and their pizza is iconic. It’s the perfect slice. Thin and crispy with the perfect cheese-to-sauce ratio (CSR).
Joe and Pat’s is such a great spot, Staten Island pizza obsessive Mikey Rodriguez decided to meet us there just before heading to his shift making pizza at Two Boots on Avenue A. Mikey’s sporting his Slice Out Hunger shirt, representing our annual $1 slice fundraiser for New Yorkers who have trouble affording food.
Next up was Nunzio’s on Hylan Blvd. This place originally opened in 1942, when it was located in South Beach. It was relocated in 1960 and enjoyed its new digs until Hurricane Sandy came in and destroyed most of the dining room and pizzeria equipment. Even without a dime from Uncle Sam, Nunzio’s managed to open just over a month after the storm.
A victorious spirit envelops the tour crew as the first beautiful pizza arrives. Another pie that isn’t smattered with cheese! Just enough to make its presence known, but not enough to obscure the deliciously herbaceous sauce.
Goodfella’s has the unique distinction of being the pizzeria that hosted the controversial “Forkgate" incident. Mayor Bill Deblasio. Just to refresh your memory, newly minted NYC mayor Bill Deblasio used a fork to eat a slice of pizza and everybody freaked out. Who cares? Bored journalists care. I guess there’s just not that much to cover these days, right??? Anyway, they auctioned off the fork for charity but the winner gave it right back. The good folks at Goodfella’s framed it, police evidence bag and all!
Here’s pizza tour guest / pizza tour guide Cedric Sparkman posing with the infamous fork. What an end to an amazing pizza journey! We had so much fun, we decided to take a ridiculous selfie with the help of my new Selfie On A Stick!
Our Sunday bus tours begin and end in Soho with four pizzeria stops in Manhattan and at least one outer borough. Stops and boroughs change weekly, so get on the mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on where we’re heading next. You can find tickets and info at www.ScottsPizzaTours.com.
Your Pizza Calendar, Starting With National Cheese Pizza Day
This image is from the greatest pizza website ever, Slice!
That’s right. Today is National Cheese Pizza Day. Its origins are unclear, but its meaning certainly is. I know what you’re thinking: “How did National Cheese Pizza Day sneak up on me so fast this year?” Well, we have busy lives and sometimes these things just pop up. You’re probably also wondering what other pizza celebration days you’re missing from you calendar. Well here you go:
September 5 is National Cheese Pizza Day
October is National Pizza Month
October 11 is National Sausage Pizza Day
November 12 is National Pizza with Everything But Anchovies Day
February 9 is National Pizza Day
June 11 is the anniversary of the naming of the Pizza Margherita
I’m sure you’ll find a way to celebrate pizza the other eight months of the year. ENJOY!
Tomato season is short. In California’s Central Valley, canners have about seventy days to harvest and pack the entire season’s crop. Most people don’t realize that pizzerias all over the planet use canned tomatoes rather than fresh. Think about it; tomato season is short, so the “fresh” tomatoes you buy in March are far from what you’ll get coming off the vine in August. What’s wrong with off-season tomatoes? First of all, flavor is never the concern when breeding tomatoes. They’re grown to be tough enough to handle the rigors of the road. Secondly, they’re often grown in water (Canada) or in sand (Florida), so vital nutrients have to be added artificially. The industrial practices in the fresh tomato industry are also pretty bad, but you’ll have to read a book like Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland for the full scoop on that.
The canned tomato doesn’t get its due, so I decided to take a quick trip out to Modesto, Ca for a first-hand look at how some of our favorite pizza tomatoes are grown, harvested and canned. I visited farms and facilities used by Stanislaus Food Products, one of the country’s leading tomato companies and certainly the most popular in the New York area. I personally love their products, which often take top honors at our annual tomato tastings (see here, here and here).
First we headed out to a farm that was in the midst of being harvested. Farmers in Modesto use amazing machines that harvest an entire vine in one shot. Check out this video for a better look at the machine. It has three sets of “eyes” that discard tomatoes that aren’t the correct color. The machines look for a bright red - you know TOMATO COLOR!
A brand new art space is opening in Manchester next week and it’s going to be amazing! Why? Because when you’re exhausted from looking at amazing art, you can relax by the Stefano Ferrara oven and order yourself a pizza.
Following Neapolitan tradition, the pizzas at PLY will bake in about 90 seconds! To celebrate their opening, PLY asked a bunch of people to submit 90 second films, each of which will play on loop at a pre-opening exhibition. I was honored to receive the invitation, so if you’re in Manchester and want some pizza with your art I strongly you suggest the masterpiece I shot in my living room in about 15 minutes. It’s a classic.It may or may not feature pizza boxes.
I recently spent a whopping 40 hours in São Paulo, Brazil and my brain almost exploded from excitement. São Paulo has had pizza for over 100 years and there are so many pizzerias in town that nobody really knows the exact count (it’s in the thousands). I ate some pizza, but my biggest takeaway had to do with the pizza boxes. They are insane.
You can see in the photo above that Brazilian pizza boxes don’t look like normal pizza boxes. First of all, they’re not square. I get the question all the time “Why does a round pizza go into a square box?” Squares are easier to deal with in manufacturing and assembly. It takes much less time to assemble a standard American pizza box, but what’s the fun in a boring square box when you can get octagons like they have in Brazil!?!?
Once you recover from the shock of octagonal pizza boxes, take a closer look at the artwork. All three boxes in the above photo contain funny die-cut shapes on their lids. The one all the way to the left becomes a soccer field, complete with goal posts that pop into place and a two-piece soccer ball that snaps together for gameplay. But the other two boxes get even crazier.
Here’s what the box all the way to the right looks like when you snap out and assemble all the pieces:
Today is the 125th Anniversary of the Pizza Margherita Myth
Today marks the 125th anniversary of the Pizza Margherita! It’s a big day for pizza lovers everywhere in which we avoid sausage, peppers, onions, anchovies, pepperoni and the like in favor of a simple combination of crushed tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil.
As the story goes, Queen Margherita joined her husband King Umberto I on a trip to Naples in 1889. As a sign of goodwill, she sampled a local food, popular only with the peasants, called pizza. The pizzaiolo she hired, Raffaele Esposito, crafted three different pizzas for her: one with only oil, one with fish (whitenbait) and one with mozzarella and crushed tomato. As the final pizza was about to leave the kitchen, Esposito’s wife Maria Giovanna Brandi tossed a handful of basil on top so that it will match the colors of the Italian flag in a display of patriotism. The queen loves the pizza and Esposito dubs it Pizza Margherita in her honor.
It’s a fantastic story, but one with many holes. I’m as guilty as anyone for perpetuating the legend, but the time has come to take a closer look at the facts behind one of pizza’s great creation myths.
In 1889, the pizzaiolo Rarraele Esposito owned a pizzeria called Pietro e basta cosi (Pietro and that’s enough). That pizzeria still exists under the name Pizzeria Brandi. It’s one of the most famous in Naples but the main attraction isn’t edible. Brandi has a framed copy of the famous thank you note sent by Queen Margherita to Raffaele Esposito.
As the only historical document tied to the events surrounding this story, this is an extremely important letter. First of all, it gives us a date. The top of the letter clearly states “11 June (Giugno) 1889,” which is why pizza enthusiasts celebrate today. But that’s about the only concrete piece of information we can get. Check out the translation:
Household of Her Majesty Capodimonte 11 June 1889
Moth Office Inspectorate
Most Esteemed Raffaele Esposito. I confirm to you that the three kinds of Pizza you prepared for Her Majesty were found to be delicious. Your most devoted servant
Galli Camillo Head of Table Services to the Royal Household
No mention of mozzarella, tomato or basil. No mention of the Italian flag. That doesn’t mean the queen didn’t eat the famous pizza, it only means we don’t have clear evidence of it happening in the only document tied to the events.
Michael in front of his toaster oven as it reconstitutes treasures from his youth.
There’s something so special and untouchable about the pizza you grow up eating. Every Sunday night you’d gather with family at the same restaurant and order the same dishes and eat them the same way. You’ll eat better pasta, better chicken marsala and better pizza in your life but somehow it will never make you feel the same as those family get-togethers. Sunday nights were particularly special for my friend Michael Berman, who would spend them at a restaurant called Pines of Rome in Bethesda, Maryland. Michael is a fantastic photographer, recent author of a great book about things to do in NYC with kids, AND he runs an excellent blog called PizzaCentric. I was deeply honored when Michael invited me to his Brooklyn abode to share some of the pizza he carefully transported back from his favorite pizza restaurant in Bethesda after a Memorial Day weekend visit.
Actual conversation between two adult males about pizza transportation.
I tried to visit Pines of Rome on Michael’s recommendation when I was in Washington, D.C. a few months ago. I got there 30 minutes before closing time but the pizza guys had already gone home, leaving me with a consolation prize of eggplant parmigiana, which I ate on the bench out front. I knew in my heart that one day I would make good on my blood oath to Michael to eat his favorite hometown pizza.
Just some details about my latest bread-baking session last week…
Step 1: Making Dough
I began with a starter fed with rye flour and water. Once it doubled in volume, I whipped up a batch of dough with the following amounts:
387g total starter
306g Trader Joe’s white All Purpose flour
156 room temp tap water
I let the mixture sit 20 minutes before adding that salt, then I kneaded it all until I was convinced the salt was evenly distributed. It’s a wet mix, so kneading is done more by lifting and folding than by pushing.
I then put the dough into my mixing bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. That sat in the fridge overnight, actually about three days.
Step 2: Shaping and Proofing
The shaping process is hard to describe in text, but it basically involves folding the dough together and tightening its form so it will capture more gas during the proofing stage. I let the shaped dough sit in the base of my cloche (sprinkled with semolina to avoid sticking and give texture) until it reached room temperature and filled with some gas. On this particular day, I turned my oven on for a minute and then switched it off so the dough (in the cloche) could sit in the warmth for a bit to speed up the process.
Step 3: The Bake
Once the dough had rose sufficiently (ie I was running out of time) I sprinked some flour on it and scored a pattern so it would A) rise and open, and B) look cool. It worked! Bake temp was 450 F but I let the oven preheat for about 35 min at 550 F with a Baking Steel in there. Since I didn’t preheat my cloche, I figured I’d use the steel’s fast conduction to throw heat into the clay and give the dough some nice spring. The bread baked in the cloche for about 30-35 min before I removed the lid for the final 7-10 min. That last bit gets the top nice and golden brown!
Step 4: The Crumb Shot
You gotto wait at least 30 minutes (it’s fun to listen to the little crackling sounds) but then you get to cut in and find out whether or not you’ve made anything worth eating. Sometimes the outside looks great but the inside is dense and undercooked. This loaf came out awesome and the crumb is clear about that! Funky, uneven holes but dense enough to spread some butter or jam.
I love books about pizza almost as much as I love animals dressing in disguises just so they can eat pizza alongside humans without getting chased away with a broom. That’s why I absolutely adore Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri. It perfectly captures one raccoon’s pizza obsession and the lengths to which he will go just to savor a slice. Go buy it for everybody you know!
I was beyond honored to be invited to the 2nd Annual ConPizza conference in São Paulo, Brazil earlier this month. I had no idea Brazil was so into pizza but they’ve apparently had it for over a century and São Paulo has so many pizzerias nobody knows the real count! The event was sponsored by a pizzeria association, similar to the VPN in Italy (and the US), but they’re more of a union than a certification agency.
The goal of ConPizza is to get a bunch of pizzeria owners and pizza business folks into a room together to share information that could be mutually beneficial. They had a bunch of speakers from big companies talking about marketing and franchising but it was all in Portuguese so I had almost no idea what was going on. Attendees got cool headsets so they could hear an interpreter’s version of my talk about pizza diversity in NYC and pizza box design around the world (I always manage to squeeze that in).
I only had two days to experience the wonders of São Paulo’s pizza scene but here are some highlights of the trip.
Let’s get pizza boxes out of the way first. From what I can tell, 99% of the pizza boxes in Brazil are octagonal! Most pizzerias deliver by scooter, so the unconventional box shape might be a way to keep the pizza from bumping around too much. They come in two pieces (a lid and a base) which seems crazy to me because it takes so much more time and material, but they seem to love it over there. The artwork is also insane. The boxes int he photo above are all interactive. One becomes a soccer field with upright coal posts and even a two-piece cardboard “ball.” The other two have pieces that pop out to form either a toy airplane or a model dinosaur. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!
The gentlemen from the association even took me to their headquarters, where they store a box from every pizzeria they work with. It was incredible. There are boxes in that pile are beyond belief and I’m just glad I had the opportunity to see them in person! New York City truly is living in the pizza box dark ages.
Now for some pizza. We spent night #1 at Quintal do Brãz, an absolutely beautiful restaurant with an incredible yard. I noticed a couple amazing things here. First of all, they offer pizzas divided into three sections. I’m used to seeing a half-and-half pizza, but this is seriously divided into thirds! It seems so much harder to cut and top, but they did it and I applaud them for it. The pizza above has one section with soppressata; one is a Calabrese salad with fresh tomato and mozzarella; the final section has a “requeijão,” or creamy cheese, made by a local company called Catupiry. From what I can tell, Catupiry is to creamy cheeses what Kleenex is to tissues. It’s a little strange for my palate but the people here seem to love it.
At Quintal, I noticed that the staff serves your slices and leaves the remainder on a table to the side of the dining area. It gets covered with a vented lid and marked with your table number. The pizza isn’t sitting on your table while you eat, so the server has total control when it comes to who gets the final slice!
Quintal do Brãz is one of several locations, but the word “quintal” separates this one from the others because it means this place has a serious “backyard.” Here’s a photo of the most beautiful path to a restroom I’ve ever seen.
We spent the second night at 1900, a pizzeria that has been family owned since it opened in 1983. We tried a ton of different pizza from the restaurant’s 30 year history before I had to zip to the airport.
Erik is the owner of 1900 and he’s extremely proud of his family’s restaurant. He told me how his father used to stop service for an hour every Monday night so the restaurant could become a concert hall for local musicians. This wasn’t meant to attract business, they wouldn’t sell food during the performance. That’s pretty damn cool.
His pizza was really interesting. The crust is a dense, yet soft, surface (probably because of the extremely short fermentation time) and topped with more interesting ingredient combinations. These were served as whole pizzas instead of three sections like Quintal do Braz. Both places baked in a wood-burning brick oven. Most Neapolitan ovens I’ve seen have an arched doorway but the wood-fired ovens in Brazil all had square openings. Bake times were in the 2-3 minute range and most of these places are burning composite wood logs rather than straight chopped wood. They claim it’s cleaner and easier to manage.
In Brazil, pizza is treated like a proper restaurant food. People sit down and use a fork and knife to eat it. They apparently don’t eat it for lunch, only dinner. And most of the pizzerias in São Paulo are delivery/takeout only. I’m so used to seeing wood fired ovens as showpieces inside restaurants but in a delivery business the customer will never see them. I completely forgot that these ovens are tools for food, not just for marketing.
Here you have it, every single pizza I judged at the 2014 International Pizza Expo. The International Pizza Chanllenge has several categories: Traditional, Non-Traditional, American Pan, Gluten Free and Blind Box. This year I judged Non-Traditional, American Pan and Blind Box (an Iron Chef-type challenge where pizzaioli compete using their own dough and surprise ingredients).
Every compeditor has to bring their dough and toppings to the event, get them through airport security, keep them alive in the hotel room and prepare the pizza using an unfamiliar oven in a gigantic convention center. No easy task.
1. A company selling bags of coal! Pizza was introduced to the USA at coal-burning bakeries in the Northeast. After all, anthracite coal comes mostly from Northeastern Pennsylvania, so it only makes sense that cities like New York and New Haven still have a bunch in use (and even more laying dormant). But coal-fired pizza ovens died out as natural gas became the easier, less expensive alternative. Now companies like Grimaldi’s, Tommy’s Coal Fired, Anthony’s Coal Fired and a bunch more are bringing it back. Gotto get that rock!
2. Lots of dough acrobatics. Dough needeth not need be airborne to make a good pizza, but it really is hard to look away when someone’s doing crazy tricks with it. These guys do crazy choreographed routines with dough that contains extra salt so it won’t rip.
3. The World’s First Breathing Pizza Box! A packaging company from India may have solved the problem of crust soggification - you know, that tubby gummy crust you get from delivery pizza. The VENTiT box utilizes indirect venting to allow humid air to escape while containing valuable dry heat. They had all sorts of cool demonstrations and even a FOG MACHINE that pushed smoke through the logo on their booth. Pretty sweet.
4. Hardcore culinary competitions! I’ve been fortunate enough to judge culinary competitions at Pizza Expo since I started going in 2007. Here’s a shot of my fellow judges checking out one of the many many pizzas we had the honor of eating. That’s Jonathan Goldsmith (Spacca Napoli in Chicago), Tom “The Dough Doctor” Lehmann (American Institute of Baking), Domenico Crolla (Bella Napoli in Glasgow, Scotland) and Theo Kalogeracos (Little Caesars in Perth, Australia - NOT the American franchise). Some of these pizzas were excellent, some were vile.
5. Amazing pants! They must shop at the same place.
6. A live artist painting a classic pizza box scene! We’ve already covered my love of pizza box art, but I’ve never witness its creation in action! This artist was on-site at the RockTenn booth (they make 65% of all pizza boxes in the USA) all three days of the event painting a classic cafe scene. I patiently await the day I see this image on a pizza box.
7. Merchants of nightmares! Seriously frightening pizza costumes. There were several of these booths at the event and they were clearly separated to avoid turf wars. Have fun sleeping tonight!
8. Pizza Stadium! The final culinary showdown pits the winners of all four pizza competitions (Traditional, Non-Traditional, American Pan and Italian) for an epic battle. The secret ingredients are revealed and each pizzaiolo had 20 minutes to prove they’re the best. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty damn exciting.
9. Beautiful pizza boxes and they’re all free for the taking!!! OK, this one might only be fun for me but I had to include it. After all, I have written a book about pizza box art and currently hold the Guinness World Record for Largest Collection of Pizza Boxes. To keep a collection of top-notch specimens, you have to go to the source. These companies trash all their display boxes so all I have to do is wait until the show is over before I sack all the box companies on the floor. There’s a FedEd center in the convention center, so I just wrap them and ship them back to Brooklyn. I’ll just have to wait 7-10 business days before I get to examine the loot!
10. A dude spinning a baby pool!Justin Wadstein won this year’s dough acrobatic competition, thanks in no small part to his ability to spin just about anything.
I did an interview with a cool new site called Pizza Life, run by my friend Gianluca Rottura. He’s a serious pizza lover and wine aficionado. He has a killer wine store in NYC and a book about wine called Wine Made Easy. I’m super excited about this interview because it reveals some deep secrets, such as which concert I went to after eating a great slice of Sicilian pizza last summer. ENJOY!
Pizza Box Gallery Show Hits Brooklyn This THURSDAY
Steph Mantis built these rad custom frames to house beautiful pizza boxes!
The art world will never be the same after this epic gallery show of amazing pizza boxes hits the scene this Thursday at the Melville House Gallery in DUMBO. About a dozen boxes will be on display all month long, most of which are featured in Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box, the acclaimed new book about the history, art and science of pizza boxes.