Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pizza al Taglio Class at Vetri

Chef Spence Serves up Pizza #1
Last Tuesday we SEPTA'd into town to attend a class on Pizza al Taglio presented by Amis chef Brad Spence. Chef Spence had returned from Rome and a week working Gabriele Bonci the previous Thursday so this was probably a non-professional's best chance to get some insight into the Bonci magic.

The Vetri demonstration kitchen occupies a former apartment directly above the restaurant with very tight seating for 10 lucky guests. The kitchen is toward the rear of the building and a large "all purpose" space overlooks Spruce St. There are evidently plans to use this space for private events, intimate concerts in conjunction with the Curtis Institute, and so forth.

The class began with frequently refilled glasses of Prosecco while Chef Spence talked about the differences between Roman pizza al taglio dough and other types of pizza. The recipe is pretty simple:

Flour: 1000 grams
Water: 800 grams
Salt: 30 grams
Olive Oil: 40 grams
Yeast: 50 grams fresh, 15 grams dry (use less if you have more time)

Weigh Everything
Chef Spence strongly suggested using a combination of flours. In class we used a dough made from 900 grams of regular '00' flour and 100 grams of spelt flour.

Mix - Don't Knead
After weighing the ingredients into a large bowl they were mixed until a rough dough formed and all the ingredients were well combined.

About 45 minutes after the previous picture
The dough is then allowed to rise for an hour, folding it over on itself every 15 minutes. After the initial rise it goes into the refrigerator for 24 hours.

With the dough explained it was time to try some pizza - that's the one Chef Spence is cutting up in the picture up top. It's just tomato sauce topped with a bunch of prosciutto, arugula, and a drizzle of olive oil.

At this point we shifted from Prosecco to a red wine and began to make our own pizzas. The ten of us divided into 5 teams to build personalized pizzas.

Some old guy came in to try some of Chef Spence's original pie while we worked.

As the pizza baked we drank more wine and chatted about Rome, pizza making, pizza eating...

After about 20 minutes at 500° F the pizzas started coming out. And you know what?

Every darn one was delicious.

Then someone mentioned Nutella.

Oh yeah.

Chef Spence grabbed a left over dough ball, stretched it onto a tray and popped it in the oven while someone went in search of a jar of Nutella.

All of it?
Yep... all of it
Spank It!
As the evening wrapped up Chef Spence and the staff packed to-go boxes with the left over pizza and most of us stepped out into the upstairs dining room for conversation, coffee, mignardises, and grappa. Fortunately, I wouldn't have to start my car for another 90 minutes... (thank you SEPTA).

A fantastic class, with wonderful people, a beautiful space, and a dynamic chef with a contagious love for his craft. Watch the Vetri website and grab the first class that grabs you - you won't regret it.

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