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NEW YORK (Reuters) - From deep dish to thin crust, from Margherita to Sicilian, restaurateur and chef Tony Gemignani approaches his pie making with the creed tattooed on his hands: Respect the Craft.
The more than 100 recipes in “The Pizza Bible,” serve as a primer for the home cook while celebrating all styles of pie.
“When it comes to pizza you just can’t say New York beats Chicago,” said Gemignani, who owns seven pizzerias, urging connoisseurs to focus on the quality of individual pies rather than geography.
He was also the first American and non-Neapolitan to win the 2007 World Champion Pizza Maker at the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy.
The San Francisco-based 41-year old spoke to Reuters about what makes a good pie and learning the trade.
Q: What is a pizzaiolo?
A: A pizzaiolo is a trade: a man or woman (pizzaiola) that makes pizzas.
Q: Did you always want to be one?
A: I always loved to watch my mom cook but I didn’t know what I wanted to be. When I was 18 and I made my first pizza, for real, I guess you’d say, that was actually sold, I fell in love with it and it became my career.
Q: Where did you learn the trade?
A: In my brother’s pizzeria, in Castro Valley, California. I just learned from working.
Q: What is the secret of a really good pie?
A: It’s always about balance. It’s not the ingredients, not the dough, it’s all of them. It’s about a dough that has some complexity to it that marries with the ingredients and a great sauce.
Q: You won some pizza acrobatics contests in Italy. Is there any advantage to tossing and throwing the pizza dough?
A: Back in the 90's I won a bunch of acrobatic titles. It’s not 100 percent necessary but when you open your hands and work the dough with your hands it does change the structure of the pizza.
Q: Do you think the culinary world gives pizza short shrift?
A: I think it did in the 80’s and 90’s but now with chefs entering the industry and white table cloths turning to serving pizza, I think it can be on every menu.
Q: Can you pile on too many toppings?
A: You can. Typically the rule of thumb is five or less, but it is what it is. Whatever you want.
Editing by Patricia Reaney and Christian Plumb