Webisodes
More About Coffee and Obsession at Basta
Peter Reinhart

In this, the second in our newest webisode series, we continue our conversation with Kelly Whitaker, chef/partner at Basta in Boulder, CO.  You'll notice a few breakaway shots to some of his menu items, such as a sous vide short rib dish that is phenomenal, cooked under pressure at a precise temperature for 48 to 72 hours, and then fire-charred just before serving. We will have a whole episode on this dish in the future, but I mention it because, as you can see here, beginning with our initial discussion on coffee and then beyond, what we are exploring with Kelly is his whole food sensibility, his ethic and culinary worldview, and how his attention to detail carries over into all aspects of the Basta experience.

We're all seeing the appearance of more and more culinary artists, like Kelly, around the country (and world), and when you peel back the curtain, it becomes obvious that a lot more than cooking is taking place in their world. Years of training, mentoring and being mentored, paying ones dues, finding ingredients produced by kindred spirits -- the soul of a chef is a complex thing that we, as customers, usually only get to experience in the form of its final manifestation, the food. So, over the next few months, little by little, we will, in fact, be peeling back the curtain and take you inside the process, deeper into our shared quest to scratch the itch beneath the itch that burns within us all.

 

 
Basta -- A Beginning
Peter Reinhart

We are beginning with this posting of a new webisode story arc featuring our friends at Basta, the wonderful wood-fired restaurant in Boulder that we've featured here in the past. This short opening segment re-introduces you to Kelly Whitaker, the visionary chef/owner of Basta and, in later segments we'll meet other members of his team and then, over time, we'll follow his trail all the way to Southern California and back again to Denver at the Great American Beer Festival where Kelly and I teamed up to make an original, unique pizza, matched in kind by Patrick Rue and his Bruery team making a one of kind beer brewed to pair with our pizza.

It all begins with a cup of espresso, as Kelly starts each day with his morning ritual and, as you will see over the next number of months, leads us into all sorts of wonderful culinary adventures. Basta (and, in later segments, the Bruery) are featured here not because they are the only great restaurants and breweries doing amazing things but because they both represent and are signifiers of a growing movement of artisans who are pushing the envelope in search of great flavors.  I often refer to pizza as "the perfect flavor delivery system" but beer makers, cheese makers, bakers and chefs working in every medium feel that way about their own products. It's always about delivering flavor and, with that flavor, comes something else, an opening up of our minds, hearts, and souls into a larger, greater world of possibility. Pizza Quest is, as we say at the top of the page, "a journey of self-discovery through pizza" and we don't take that promise lightly. Our video webisodes set out to explore that journey, often starting with pizza, because it is such a perfect flavor delivery system as well as the perfect metaphor, and then we follow it, like breadcrumbs (yet another metaphor -- forgive me!!) wherever it leads. That's how we end up meeting so many visionaries, people like Kelly, who many of you already know from earlier webisodes we've posted. But you will now get to know him in a new and deeper way as we explore, with him and his colleagues, the fire that burns in their bellies, the compelling vision that drives them to do extraordinary things.  In so doing, we hope to inspire all of our viewers to tap into their own vision, or at least to vicariously share our vision as it leads to and connects with your own. For Kelly (as for so many of us), it begins with his morning Joe-spresso -- but the fun really starts when we follow the bread crumb trail from the coffee, through the pizza and beer, and then into the deeper vision that drives it all.

 

 
Margherita Pizza with Mozzarella di Bufala
Peter Reinhart

 

We've been wanting to share this webisode with you for quite a while, so here it is. Last year, when we were at the Fire Within Oven Owners Conference, we taped a number of demo's in the beautiful mobile ovens built by Joseph Pergolizzi and his team of masons and metal craftsmen. Among those in attendance was Andres Salazar, who was just on the verge of releasing his first batch of Buffalo Mozzarella in the USA. As you will learn, his herd of grass fed water buffalo live in Columbia, South America, and the Salazar family has perfected the art of making gorgeous, creamy cheese from the milk. I'll let Andreas do his own talking but I have to say, this was amazing cheese -- so sweet and velvety that, after the tape stopped rolling, I couldn't stop eating the cheese. It maybe hard to find, but it will be found under the label of Annabella Cheese and at www.annabellacheese.com/

You'll notice that after Joseph's Margherita pizza came out of the oven we garnished it with threads of fresh basil that have been sliced chiffonade-style. This is different than we saw Tony Gemignani and our other featured pizzaiolos do it, but I like this method for when you're having pizza parties and have to cut the pizzas into slices for everyone (as opposed to the more traditional method of one pie per person, folded and eaten). Consider it yet another option to add to your repertoire.

We love discovering artisans doing extraordinary work, and what a treat it was to meet Andreas and hear about the commitment he and his family have made to go "all in" with their water buffalo farm and cheese business. Enjoy it now, even if vicariously on the screen, as we make a pizza with this extraordinary cheese and let us know if you've been able to find it anywhere and, if you have, what you think.

 

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Vision Statement

Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

Peter's Books

American Pie Artisan Breads Every Day Bread Baker's Apprentice Brother Juniper's Bread Book Crust and Crumb Whole Grain Breads

… and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com

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