The executive chef of Seattle’s Tutta Bella’s has been approved as a registered pizza-maker by an Italian pizza authority.
Tutta Bella Executive Chef, Brian Gojdics, has just returned from an intensive two-week training program in Naples, conducted by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), a group dedicated to preserving the true form of Neapolitan pizza created in the region 250 years ago.
Gojdics tells KIRO Radio’s Let’s Eat that the pizza is so engrained in the culture, the society formed to protect it in its true form.
“With that are certain ingredients that you have to use: the San Marzano tomato, the Tipo “00” flour, fresh mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil,” says Gojdics. “There are ingredients to it, and then there are also techniques to it.”
There are strict rules that the dough must be formed by hand and not thrown. Not tossing dough is a big sticking point for Neapolitan pizza-makers.
“They’re pretty adamant about it. No throwing in the air. No acrobatics. What they do though with their hands is they do a slapping technique,” says Gojdics. “As they’re slapping, it’s turning, and they’re giving it a nice strong center and pushing all the air to the edges of the cornicione, so when it cooks you’ll have that nice, light, fluffy crust.”
Even though the dough only requires four ingredients: water, flour, salt and yeast, Gojdics says if you just throw all those together, you’ll get a mediocre product. He and those trained in the making of true Neapolitan pizzas work to find just the right mix, which can be sensitive even to the weather.
“That’s always a challenge because here in Seattle it will be sunny and rainy, and then rainy and then some sun, so the conditions are always changing, so the dough is always changing. Currently, we’re working on our dough recipe to change more so with the seasons.”
Baking the pizza is also an element of the strict traditions. Pizzas must be baked sans pan or container on the base surface of a wood-fired dome-shaped oven.
Sticking with these traditions is a big part of Tutta Bella’s business. The mission as stated on the website is “To be the most respected Neapolitan pizzeria in the world,” providing “authentic food and love.”
Gojdics says he hopes to improve on their already great dough, and keep bringing their technique closer and closer to the true Neapolitan style. “I’m trying to bring this as close to the true art as possible.”