Automating the Art of the Perfect Pizza
Art is supposedly ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration and the art of making the perfect pizza is pretty much the same - especially when you factor in the heat of the average pizza kitchen. And artisan kitchens are like artists’ studios where innovation and progress are often viewed with extremely stubborn suspicion. Pizza-making is a passionate art so convincing chefs that they can reduce the time and effort required to produce the perfect pizza is a tricky task at the very least.
It is said - by whom no-one seems to know but it is said with authority - that the difference between good pizza and great pizza is all in the kneading of the dough. Years of experience are needed to knead dough properly and the daily process, once fully learned, takes an inordinate amount of time and effort. Inordinate because the result, when all is said and done, is simply a pizza and pizza stands on the cusp of both fast food and craft food.
We have all seen the acrobatic antics of those pizza chefs who spin and flip their neatly kneaded bases to the delight of their customers and the world at large but for every twist and twirl there is the bone-breaking effort of kneading and forming that takes its daily toll on the fingers and wrists of the less celebrated brothers and sisters of the pizza chef community. Previous incarnations of automated pizza formers, whilst much quicker, have generally delivered bases of a much lesser quality than the manually prepared version; edible they may be but art they ain’t and most pizza chefs are artists at heart.
The trick, it seems, is not to automate the entire process but to dramatically reduce the manual exertion required while maintaining the authority and artistry of the chef and a semi-automatic pizza former takes away the hard work, whilst delivering a much speedier outcome. Best of all it remains wholly in the domain of the chef who is the ‘semi’ part of the now substantially speedier process. (and who retains the ability - time and tide permitting - to entertain with an occasional entirely manual display)
We spoke with Giovanni D’Andrea, CEO of BiancoGroupUK, about the semi-automatic pizza formers that are starting to bridge the gap between passion and progress in pizza kitchens in the UK.
“It’s a tricky market because the best pizzas are the result of hard work and hard earned knowledge. Chefs who have invested a lot of time and passion in developing their methodology do not always want to be told that there is a better way, especially when that way is machines doing what they believe people do best. However these machines, these pizza dough stretchers, (marketed as Pizzarella) simply reduce the time and effort the chef needs to make the perfect pizza base. They are designed to reproduce an expert pizzaiolo's handiwork and because the dough is worked at room temperature - so to avoid crushing, stressing or heating it too much - they preserve its physical and organoleptic properties. For the pizza chef it’s business as usual, just a little less effort and a little faster.
Once they realise that, the chefs are sold and then so are these machines. They are just one of the many ways in which we are trying to maintain the art of pizza-making while making the process easier. If the chef is an artist then his kitchen is a studio and his equipment should reflect and complement that.”
It probably helps when chefs discover that the Pizzarella is made by the same company whose rotary pizza ovens won the HOST Milan award for best Pizza Equipment Innovation.
The company holds a significant number of patents in the field of pizza making and has a reputation for delivering equipment that enhances and complements the skills of even the most accomplished artisans.
In Pizzarella, the revolution (pun intended) that the rotary ovens began, continues. The ovens are not only innovative in their operation but their decorative designs deliver an artistic aesthetic that combines functionality with artistry and relaxes the antiseptic appearance of the kitchen workspace.
BiancoGroupUK is the sole UK agent for Morello Forni.
Pizzarella is the trade name for Morello Forni semi-automatic pizza stretcher.