Respect the Craft
“Craft is the difference between good and great. It takes a few extra steps, the right equipment, a little more time, and a fair amount of practice. But if you’re up for it, the payoff is golden.”
If anyone ever wanted to master the art or ‘craft’ of making a quality pizza pie at home, “The Pizza Bible” by Tony Gemignani is the book for you. If you have ever been to ‘Tony’s Pizza Napoletana’ or ‘Capo’s’ in San Francisco, then you have sampled his credentials. In The Pizza Bible, Tony shows us how to make the same outstanding pizza he is famous for at home. The aptly named ‘Pizza Bible’ is the ultimate guide to the craft of making pizza.
Tony Gemignani is a San Francisco Bay area native who started out making pizza in his brother’s restaurant in Castro Valley, California. It wasn’t long before he was wowing the patrons with his amazing ‘throwing’ skills. Tony’s talent for throwing pizza lead him to the Las Vegas pizza throwing championships where he became the top pizza thrower in the world. He went on from there to win numerous other accolades such as the Triple Crown for baking at the International Pizza Championships in Lecce, Italy. Perhaps his greatest honor is winning the 2007 World Champion Pizza Maker at the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy, the first American and non-Neapolitan to win this honor. His master credentials from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli more than qualify him to run The International School of Pizza where he certifies chefs from all over the world. Who better to write the holy grail of pizza cookbooks than Tony?
Tony’s motto is “respect the craft” but it might have been “go big or go home”. In that spirit, this book is for the serious pizza devotee. It may be named the Pizza Bible, but it is more like a textbook. The book begins with a section called The Master Class. Readers are urged to read all the way through these 19 pages before even attempting any recipes. In this section, the reader will learn about many topics such as theory, baking percentages and equipment as well as a primer on ingredients. After that section there is a three-day practice course in making pizza and mastering two kinds of dough. You might want to think of this section as ‘homework’, but in the end (as Tony points out in the book) “you get to eat the final exam.” The Master Class section is crammed with information and tips and ends with “The Theory of Pizza Relativity”. Here the reader is encouraged go with the visual cues instead of relying on recipes alone. As with any baking, there are so many factors from the weather to the age of the flour that affect the end product. If making great pizza were easy, everyone would be making it. There is a reason people are lined up to get a table a Tony’s ‘Napoletana’!
After you have completed The Master Class, you are ready to move on to the mouthwatering recipes. The chapters that follow are broken down into regional styles. Regional American pizza is well represented from California to New York, with stops in between in Detroit and Chicago. From there he has an entire chapter devoted to Napoletana and another on other regions of Italy. In a chapter on globally themed pizzas such as the ‘Barcelona’ and ‘München’, Tony treats us to some recipes inspired from his travels across Europe. One of my personal favorites, Calzone, is included in a chapter entitled ’Wrapped and Rolled’. A chapter on Focaccia and bread (in this case, Ciabatta) rounds things out. The pictures look so great you will want to get started right away…just don’t forget to do your homework first.
This book is the most definitive resource on pizza I have ever seen and a must-have for anyone aspiring to make world-class pizza at home. The information, pictures, and tips are precise, to the point and easy to follow. As long as you are not expecting instant results I think you will love this book. After having completed the Master Class myself I am ready to get started. The first effort for me will be “a cross between Chicago deep-dish and a Sicilian with a touch of Detroit”. It sounds like an old flame of mine, but in reality it is a deep-dish style pizza cooked in a cast iron skillet with a crispy white cheddar crust. It features provolone, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses in addition to ‘Sweet Fennel Sausage’ and roasted red peppers. If you think that sounds good just have a look at page 95. School is out; I’m going in!
“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”