James Durawa grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but learned how to make artisan pizza while working at Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon. He and his wife moved back to Milwaukee several years ago and opened Wy’East Pizza on the west side of town, serving his guests a unique pizza (by local standards); a strong deviation from the ubiquitous tavern style pies all over town.
There may not be a straight line from the Italian deli and butcher business to pizza making, but Donny Mellozzi isn’t letting that stop him. His passion for pizza has been all-consuming the last several years, and its led to the creation of two types of pizza he’s making in a converted space above a paint shop in a Montreal suburb. Pizza Frankie’s is truly a labor of love and commitment.
During the two-day festival at the end of August, we always hold a series of educational and informational panel discussions. We have excerpts this week from “The Dough Whisperers” and the “3rd Wave Deep Dish/Pan” panels, held at The Salt Shed in Chicago.
When he got tired of his corporate job, Brian Tondryk decided to get into the pizza business, because his grandfather – Fred Bartoli – inspired him as a kid. Bartoli started Gino’s East in 1966 in Chicago. Tondryk had to talk to old timers, do his research and go back to his childhood to try to recreate the pies he remembered from the 1970s. He now has two Bartoli’s locations in Chicago serving both deep-dish and thin pizza.
Devin Bogdan has worked in restaurants around the U.S., some that have received Michelin stars or James Beard awards. For the last four years, he’s been in the kitchen at Smith & Lentz Brewery, an East Nashville bar and restaurant with an ambitious menu, drawing upon the seasons. The pizza he has developed is truly remarkable, using several flours, an all-natural starter and a particularly high hydration.
Tony Scardino is a child of the Chicago suburbs. His memories are of thin and crispy tavern style pies, but over the years, as he made his way around the kitchens of some of Chicago’s better restaurants, he got the pizza bug. The last few years have seen him and his Professor Pizza brand bouncing around Chicago, but always improving his craft. Today, his kitchen sits atop a building in the hot West Loop, where he makes three styles of pizza – and continues experimenting all of the time.
Luca Platania has had a tough road getting to where he is. A brain tumor scare followed his move from Italy to Finland (he followed his wife back home), where he had to learn the language. Now, he’s got several locations of Forza in Finland, and Steve met up with him at his year-old space in Helsinki, where Luca showed off his two styles of pizza.
When you start rolling and tossing dough at the age of five, you have some strong opinions and approaches to pizza making. Chadwick Corcoran sure does. In fact, he feels so strongly about both hand-stretched thins baked on the hearth, as well as pan-baked Sicilians, he decided to offer both at his suburban L.A. pizzeria, Two Doughs.
Rick Rosenfield started his career with the Justice Department, going on to become a trial lawyer and prosecutor. But he and his business partner realized early on they wanted out of law, and into the restaurant business. They decided to create a pizza brand based on the California way of living – fresh produce, seasonal ingredients and unique (often misunderstood) flavors for 1980s America. The result was California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) a brand that has more than 200 locations worldwide. We talked about his origin story and how the brand developed its signature style of pizza.
Our first panel discussion at Pizza City Fest L.A. this year was “The Dough Whisperers,” a panel including three of the leading dough experts in L.A. right now: Daniele Uditi (Pizzana), Andy Kadin (Bub & Grandma’s; dough supplier for Nancy Silverton/Mozza) and Evan Funke (Funke, Felix Trattoria, Mother Wolf). Moderated by our friend Noel Brohner, this slightly edited version includes a few of the audience questions as well. You can watch the entire discussion on our YouTube channel as well.