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Tony Gemignani Makes His Championship Pizza

Written By Peter Reinhart
Thursday, 08 September 2011 Webisodes

In this webisode, Tony teaches me (and you) how he makes the Margherita pizza that won him the world championship. You’ll notice a few great tips, things that aren’t commonly known even by professional pizza makers, such as: the traditional Napoletana way to load the pizza onto the peel; shaping the dough on the marble slab as opposed to lifting or spinning it; when to put the basil on; and the importance of bringing the dough to room temperature before putting it into the oven to prevent burning the underside.

Catch the quote on the back of Tony’s tee-shirt, “Respect the craftsman.”  That’s become his mantra as he’s transitioned from being an American pizza whizz-kid, winning innumerable competitions for his acrobatic prowess to, now, mastering and teaching the time-honored, traditional methodology that he learned from his own master teachers when he studied with them in Naples and the surrounding area.

You’ll also briefly see Tony’s own apprentice, Audrey Pagnotta Sherman, working in the background. We’ll visit more with her in a subsequent webisode; she was recently seen in New York City at 900 Degrees, but I have just been informed by Tony that he and his team, including Audrey, have parted ways with that restaurant and will be focusing on a new place in Brooklyn. If anyone has more details than that, especially about how 900 Degrees is doing without Tony and team, please let us know.

As many of you already know, one of the major themes of Pizza Quest is the celebration of artisans and artisanship (or, as Tony says on his shirt, “Respect the craftsman”). I derive particular joy whenever I see a next generation apprentice, such as Audrey, immersed in his or her training. It gives me hope that the ongoing transmission of knowledge is still alive and well, and that future generations, today’s kids and their own kids, will be able to continue enjoying the gifts created by these dedicated artisans. You’ll see this message coming through and reiterated by Tony throughout this segment and in the ones to come. Enjoy!

 

Comments

Mikael Kjellstrom

I really enjoyed this webisode. Great for inspiration of how to make the perfect pizza.

Jamie Thackaberry

Great webisode… I have been guilty of the cold dough in the oven – duh… Thanks for the tip on “Doming” the pizza.

John vitale dmd

Peter, i have been to your restaurant in N.C and the pizza is also excellent. I love your stove! I had a wood burning stove built at my house about 3years ago and the pizzas coming out of that oven are among the best i have ever tasted. My wife and i make our own sauce ! We bottle about 100 units a year and enjoy the pizza regularly.. The video above was great

Big fan
John vitale dmd

TJ

John,

I recently built a wood fired oven and would agree the pizzas that can be made at home rival any other. Two quick questions at what temperature are you running your oven and what is the hydration rate of your dough.

Thanks TJ

Joe A

Peter:

What Flour was used to make that pie?? There is no way your run of the mill Tipo 00 flour can make a pie that can be slid off the bench onto a peel like that. All of the brands I tried including Caputo make a dough that is so slack that it needs to be dressed on the peel and delivered to the oven…with a tendency to stick if you take too long.

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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
The Bread Bakers Apprentice
Brother Junipers Bread Book
Crust and Crumb
Whole Grain Breads

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