Posts Tagged ‘slice of new york’

Pizza Paul Nyland; Best in the Business

pizza paul and meii

There I stood in white-hot Ohio sun in my parking lot shaking hands with guy I didn’t even know. It was 2003 and I had been in the pizza business for three years and I really didn’t have time for this. Gordon Food Service had told me they were gonna send a consultant this day but I told them I didn’t need anyone telling me how to run my business. I had forgotten the date and they evidently sent him anyway.

“So Johnny, my name is Paul and pizza is my business, that’s why they call me Pizza Paul.” he said happily as he handed me his Gordon Food Service card that indeed said, ‘Pizza Paul Nyland’ written in large letters on it. “I’m just doing the rounds and would like to show you how to boost the revenue in this fine place.”

“I’m really not inter…” I said abruptly looking away.

“Okay John, let me ask you one thing and I’ll leave.” Paul said holding his palms up in surrender.

“Okay, shoot.”

“Have you ever tried calzones? They are a great revenue generator because they are so good. I can show you how to…”

“Sorry Paul, I’ve been in the restaurant busin…”

“Lemme ask you another thing, Paul said as he reached in his car and pulled a case of cheese off the seat. “How many other pizza places have calzones around here?” He shoved the case in my chest and walked to the front door of my pizzeria.

“Well, I don’t think any…”

“See, you’ll be the first to make calzones if you just let me show you…” he said opening the door and entering. I stood and rolled my eyes in frustration, this guy was not taking the hint to hit the road and he was literally busting into my store. When I stepped into my lobby Paul stepped uncomfortably close and whispered. “Johnny, tell me, who was the first President?”

“George Washington.”

“HA! See everybody knows that! Now, who was the second?” Paul said smiling like he just stole a million dollars.

“John Adams.” Paul’s smile melted in disappointment and he fidgeted.

“Okay John, then who was the third?”

“Thomas Jefferson.” Paul swung around and said, “Nice place you got here, okay who was the fifth President of these United States?”

“Uh, I can’t recall right now.” I said honestly.

“BINGO,” Paul screamed. ” You see Johnny!” Everyone remembers the first person to do something but never the second. THATS WHY YOU NEED TO DO CALZONES!” he pointed to the sky like a preacher which made me smile.

“But…” Paul didn’t give me time to finish.

“This case of cheese if for you my man!” Paul pointed to it. “It’s a new blend from your friends at Gordon Food Service! Now lets make calzones!” he said like a  General as he walked into my kitchen and instantly introduced himself to my young staff!

That day, Pizza Paul Nyland not only changed my menu, he changed the way I looked at Pizza and I made a friend for life! I’ll never forget that first calzone he made a blend of mozzarella and provolone, canned mushrooms and pepperoni. The combination of his enthusiasm and the luscious, fatty and messy way the calzones tasted was irresistible. Paul stuck his mug into each of our faces saying, “Best thing you ever had, huh? huh? huh? as the crisp dough slathered with garlic butter and copious amounts of Parmesan cheese disappeared. As my staff wiped the grease from their chins and slapped Paul on the back, I knew I was hooked on calzones.

Now, over eleven years later, every one of the 81 pizzas I have on my menu can be made into calzones and every year  I saw Pizza Paul at the pizza conventions I would fill him in on my new calzone variants like stuffed ciabatta and stuffed fougasse. I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile on his face and he was never condescending or judgmental, always looking at the bright things in life!

brynne and pizza paul

In 2004, my Manager, Brynne Humpreys accepted the award for Best Gourmet Pizza from Pizza Paul at the NAPICS show in Columbus. (With Big Dave Ostrander, on the left.)

Paul and guys like him are a huge reason why I just love the business of pizza so much. It’s such a small fraternity of dedicated and fanatical obsessives with only one thing in mind- the craftsmanship and love of pizza!

pizza paul and pat miller

Pizza Paul was a tough judge a World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo hosted by Pizza Today Magazine last year. Talented Pat Miller of Slice of New York is on right.

With Pauls’ passing, I figure we all try to surround ourselves with people we love and understand. But there are others on the periphery of our lives who’s orbits and interests intersect with ours only once or twice a year creating a bond of commonality that only strengthens with each meeting. As the years zing by, we all get older, smarter and more reflective about our relationships and we start to look forward to seeing those people who have influenced our lives and made us smile so much. After all, it’s not the amount of time that makes a friendship, it’s the intensity, honesty and happiness a real friend brings.

Thank you Pizza Paul Nyland! You were one-of-a-kind.        (Oh, by the way, the fifth President was James Monroe!)

 

 

The Pizza Olympics in Italy, 2011

                         

My “Schiacciata alla Lombardo,” highlighting the cheeses and food of the Lombary region placed 4th in the U.S.A. I slathered wonderful Bellweather Farms Crescenza on the whole thing, then topped in thirds (1) Gorgonzola Dolce, Gorgonzola Piccante, sliced pear, Bresaola (air dried beef) and arugula. (2) Teleggio, wild mushrooms and truffle oil. (3) Vallentina Casera cheese with pancetta fresca (fresh pork side, marinated with salt, herbs and balsamic) and braised raddichio. My dough consisted of a wild yeast 24 hour levain with 50 percent local spelt flour and a 16 hour cold-retarded biga, then mixed with a 50/50 mix of 14 percent protein flour and caputo tipo “00″ flour to a 70 percent hydration.

World Pizza Champions

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to the pizza olympics, held in Salsomaggiore Italy. My team, The World Pizza Champions ruled the day with fantastic culinary scores as well as the silver and bronze medals in pizza acrobatics.

                            

This fabulous pizza made by Tony Gemignani won “Best Pizza in the U.S.A.”  The”cornicione” (Korn-e-Chon-A) or end crust has a terrific open crumb and airy cells obtained by pre-ferments, the perfect amount of hydration, patience and a little pizza love. Tony named this “Pizza Fortura.”  It consisted of  100% organic 12-grain  flour from Central Milling with a 93 percent hydration, Anchor Steam starter, triple malted, La Quercia prosciutto, blackberry honey, Sierra Nevada mozzarella and white cheddar with arugula. 

The fabulous Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Napolitana, Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House, Pizza Rock in Sacramento and Pysano’s Pizza in Castro Valley  won “Best Pizza in the U.S.A.” for his score in the Pizza Classico category (damn- I came in second.) Tony also rocked the “Pizza Teglia” category, coming in 4th in the World followed by Bruno di Fabio who finished 8th in the World. Bruno has just opened “Re Napoli” to rave reviews in Greenwich CT.  and is opening a spectacular pizzeria called “900″ in the East Village, Manhattan. (These guys are on FIRE!)

Here are the sights of the competition.

                       

Eric Corbin, Pat Miller and Jay Shuurman exploded with great tricks in the Freestyle Acrobatics and Largest Dough Stretch.

                         

    Some great pizzas were made in the Teglia, or pan pizza category where alot of Italians let them rest for over 10 minutes. 

                          

Tony and Bruno saying, “If we gave you 1000 Euro, would you make sure the judges give that goon from Ohio a lower score?”

                         

                     Lotsa French Chefs showed up this year. Here a chef creates a red Mullet pizza with spring vegetables.

                    

Pat Miller, Owner of A Slice of New York in Columbus Ohio was spectacular in all events but really shined in largest dough stretch.

                          

Contestants from all over the world competed in “The Fastest,” or pulling 5 small doughs out onto 12 inch screens in record time.

                           

                               The Japanese team scored third place in the team acrobatics. Here they are with Miss Italy.

                             

Three pizza legends; Tony Gemignani, Antonio Manzi (He won first place, freestyle acrobatics) and Bruno di Fabio.

                         

                                                                               Did I mention the French were there?

                                     

                                                                                  Eric Corbin helping a nice old geezer cross the street.

                        

                                                                                          Presentation to the judges is everything.

                                

                                            The non-gluten category was held in a seperate area and featured some great pizzas also.

                         

                                                                                                     The World Pizza Champions.

                           

              Nancy Puglisi, (center) herself a master at the pizza business, acted as our interpreter, coach and friend.

                                            

This pizza place forth in the world in “Pizza in Teglia” or pan pizza and was made by (who else) Tony Gemignani. It is called the “Pancetta Porcini” using a 72 hour maturation with a poolish, porcini marsala cream sauce, wild mushrooms, smoked pancetta, smoked scarmoza, truffle oil, sea salt, roasted red peppers, fresh thyme, and mache.

 

                              

Jay Shuurman, Eric Corbin and Alberto Pavolo shared the stage in victory for thier freestyle actobatic dough tossing.

                          

                                                                 Here is Tony Gemignani picking up his trophy for Best Pizza in the U.S.A.     

                           

This was an exciting and exhausting trip, these guys are some of the best and most dedicated pizza people on the planet and it was an honor to accompany them. Next year, even though they are my friends, I will crush them with a stellar pizza and win Best Pizza in the World because, like Bruno says “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometime.”

Semper Pie!

the goon

( I’ve had some problems attaching videos to posts but hope that soon I can show them to you.)