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aschbren

new job: pizza

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Next week I'm starting work in a new kitchen where they specialize in pizza.

Based on my experience working on a traditional line, I'm having trouble understanding how the pizza program fits into the rest of the line. Basically for anyone out there, what should I expect when I walk in the door? What's different in a fine-dining restaurant that serves pizza versus a similar one that doesn't?

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There's a wood fired oven. I'm pretty sure they make the crust using sourdough, and the toppings are all pretty standard european-style pizzas (see the Cheeseboard... the options are very similar).

I don't know that much about the restaurant yet, but I know the place has 30 seats in the dining room and 15 more at the bar. Pizza is served as the most popular main course there, as they also do the small plates thing more for apps.

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I'm sure they wouldn't mind if you asked to observe for an hour or two the day before (or sometime before) you start, as long as you stay out of the way...

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Short explanation: your station gets killed (killed!!!) during happy hour.

Long explanation: regular major projects in the form of making large quantities of dough, proofing them and punching them, balling them, cooking and reducing your sauces, and prepping all of your toppings.

And you'll be tending your oven regularly, keeping it stoked without generating so much top heat that you burn all your toppings, and you have to find lots of speed in rolling out the pizza crusts. Woodfired ovens cook very, very fast, and chances are, you'll burn lots of pizzas in the beginning because it seems like you only got them in an eyeblink ago, but no. Expect days where it literally feels like popping the pizzas into the oven, turning around, then looking back and "Goddamnit!"

Schlepping big bags of wood. Splinters. Ash and dust. Scooping out the oven. Wiping the insides. Routinely wiping down your entire station and all the walls, shelving, etc. because ash dust gets everywhere. Routinely knocking ash out of the flue so it doesn't fall into the food. Possibly cooking things in the oven overnight if your place does that.

It's fun too though. Very primal, and it's really cool to watch the food transform right in front of your eyes like that. I love woodfired ovens.

And they're great for family meal too.

Pat


"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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That's one of the reasons why I took the job. I need to start cooking outside of my comfort zone, which is the highly rational order of classical French sauces. It's also a good excuse for me to finally really understand the subtleties of dough.

We heated our home growing up with a wood furnace, and I always liked cooking hotdogs and making smores in it.

It's fun too though. Very primal, and it's really cool to watch the food transform right in front of your eyes like that.  I love woodfired ovens.

And they're great for family meal too.

Pat

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