In this episode Cuyler teaches us how to make the perfect pizza.
Right episode 49 We’re back and we’re back with Mr. C instead of Rob filling in for Robbie. Mr. C is back. Cuyler is sitting in the copilot seat. How’s it going, Cuyler?
It’s going well. It’s Friday, beautiful weather.
Don Mock 0:32
It’s Friday when we’re recording this. God knows when this is actually going to drop.
That’s true, that’s true.
Don Mock 0:37
We try not to date these things, but…
Don Mock 0:38
It looks like we’re outing ourselves now.
It is a Friday, though.
Don Mock 0:41
It is a Friday and it’s beautiful. It’s sunny and springtime outside.
It got hot again.
Don Mock 0:46
We had that cold spell and it got hot. I think we’re supposed to get rain tonight.
Don Mock 0:50
Well, here in Atlanta, we have like eight seasons right. So we’ve already been through fall/spring. We had that warmth where all the daffodils come out. Then it chilled out again, freezes. Now we’re very close to the pollening. Right. Yeah, like I mean, the yellow was out in full effect. ButI still think we’ve got more to come.
Yeah, we haven’t gotten to peak pollen yet.
Don Mock 1:11
Now I read something that pollen is now lasting for more days during the pollen season.
Don Mock 1:19
Okay, there’s more of it and more days. Great. That’s awesome.
It’s something like you know, why why your allergies are so bad.
Don Mock 1:25
Yeah, well, God, they’re getting worse and worse every year. I don’t know, the world’s a crazy place. The weather’s a crazy place.
Don Mock 1:33
Alright, well, normally we talk about advertising and design. And I thought it could be fun since you’re sitting here to shift gears a little bit. And talk about something that we all know and love.
We do all loveit.
Don Mock 1:47
Which actually has a tie in to you and your employment and how you ended up here, which is actually pretty fun. So if you don’t mind, I guess tell the lovely listeners, kind of what you did before you decided to shift gears and go into graphic design.
I worked at a pizza place for…
Don Mock 2:08
You can name drop it.
Okay. It was a Mellow Mushroom. Yeah. That was one of the older locations and I worked there when I was a teenager in high school, and then-
Don Mock 2:18
I didn’t know it went back that far.
Yeah, well, it was my first job.
Don Mock 2:22
Okay. My first job was in food, too, as a teenager.
Was it the sub shop?
Don Mock 2:27
Yeah, I worked at a work that a Togo’s before it was a franchise thing. And then I worked at an Italian deli, slicing the meats and you know, “I’m need a pound of capicola”
Did you ever cut yourself doing that?
Don Mock 2:38
I never cut myself with the with the mechanical slicer, with that thing that you slide back and forth. But when making sandwiches and stuff, you have the big serrated knife. Absolutely I cut myself on that with a bread knife. Yeah, yeah. Never badly, though. Never like, “oh my god, like we got a bleeder.”
You heard bad stories about the meat slicer.
Don Mock 2:57
No, that thing scared the hell out of me. There were these big slabs of meat and you would throw it down. Then you had this metal guard that like clumped down.
I used to use one at Mellow.
Don Mock 3:07
I think where people get in danger is not the top. It’s the bottom, where you’re slicing it.
And your hand is right there, right?
Don Mock 3:13
The hand is underneath catching the slices.
Don Mock 3:17
You might go upwards into the blade.
I’ve only ever used this a prep, you know, green peppers or something.
Don Mock 3:22
All the pizza toppings. But I would just one hand that.
Don Mock 3:22
Yeah me too. I was never putting my hand in that thing. I also worked at a print shop. That’s what got me into this crazy business in the first place. After I left the magical world of food service, and we’ll get back to you in a second here. I worked at a print shop and we had those ginormous industrial cutter. The cutter, Cuyler, was as large as our conference table.
Don Mock 3:46
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s like, Oh, you’d print 10,000 brochures and you stack them into stacks, like maybe two feet high. And it was this humongous blade that would go “Whutcha!” like that. Nobody can see me, obviously, because it’s radio but they would come down at an angle. That thing scared the hell out of me.
We had one at UGA. We had regular paper cutters, but I remember I was doing some kind of thing where I printed several books.
Don Mock 4:14
I remember my professor was like, Well, we do have the-
Don Mock 4:17
the bindery cutter. So paper’s heavy, and they come off the presses. And they’re large sheets, right? So it had almost like an air hockey kind of table. Right? It had like these little pellet things in it, which would shoot air up, so you could slide around these humongous 50 pounds of paper or whatever. You would you would push them all together and you’d stack it all together and get it all lined up. Then you had a foot guard. It took one foot and two hands.
And it would clamp it?
Don Mock 4:48
Yeah, the foot would bring the clamp down. That would crush your finger in an instant, right? So that was super freaky. You have to clamp it down with your foot and then you had to use both thumbs. You couldn’t just push a button to have it cut. You had to push both two buttons at the same time on opposite sides of the printer, to ensure that you didn’t cut your own hand off.
Don Mock 5:10
Yeah, this thing was insane, it was like a hydraulic… Yeah, the thing was insane.
The one at UGA was not like that. Yeah, it was bigger than a regular cutter.
Don Mock 5:19
Yeah, yeah. This thing was insane. Alright, enough about my food service. So you worked in pizza, is what is what we’re talking about.
So I had gone to college initially for graphic design, left school, and then ended up working a couple different jobs. But I wound backup at the same Mellow Mushroom.
Don Mock 5:38
And worked there for about 12 years.
Don Mock 5:42
It took us a lot of pizzas.
Don Mock 5:44
That’s a long run, dude.
Yeah. This was the kind of place where we had a lot of employees that stayed around for a long time.
Don Mock 5:52
And yeah, so I made pizzas for-
Don Mock 5:56
Well, it’s kind of like you come for the job. And you stay for the people.
Yeah. Yeah, it’s kind of a family kind of thing.
Don Mock 6:02
I was very close with the owner and the GM there and everything. I was also lucky that when I really needed a job, they were like, “okay, you can always come back here,” and that kind of thing.
Don Mock 6:15
There are only so many Friday night rushes that you can take in life. And so as I got older, I was like, I gotta go back to school. I went back for graphic design.
Don Mock 6:28
Well, we are very happy that you made that choice.
You guys took a gamble and hired me for my first graphic design job.
Don Mock 6:35
I love that we did that.
Yeah, well I love that you did that.
Don Mock 6:38
(laughing) Good. I’m glad that you love that as well. It’s weird. I always remember what people wear at their first job interview here. I don’t know why I remember that. But I do remember that. I think that backstory is what led us to, let’s not talk about advertising design. Let’s talk about pizza, man.
Don Mock 6:55
And I would say that if there was anyone who’s a resident chef at mocktheagency, who’s talking about how to cook, and how to do this, and how to make that, and this-that-whatever. It’s definitely you, right?
I do a lot a lot of home cooking.
Don Mock 7:08
Yeah. So talk to us a little bit about what’s going on in the pizza front right now. What do you love about pizza right now? Like what’s happening in the pizza world?
My wife got me one of the Ooni at home pizza ovens. This one’s a gas powered one. You can get ones that are dual-powered where it uses wood chips as well.
Don Mock 7:25
Okay, so you hook it up to a propane tank?
Yeah. You hook it up to a propane tank. This one’s a 16 so it’s the bigger one.
Don Mock 7:33
Yeah. Is that cheating? Using the gas, not using the wood?
No, I mean, I know what you’re saying. But for years I was like I’m gonna build a pizza oven. I’m going to go find bricks, which are remarkably hard to find now, that aren’t that concrete stamped brick. So like old school clay bricks, which is really what you need for high heat, is hard to find and very expensive.
Don Mock 7:54
So you got the Ooni. I keep interrupting you, keep going.
So I got the Ooni, and then since Christmas, I’ve spent the last few months just trying to get the dough recipe down correctly.
Don Mock 8:06
If you don’t know, Mellow Mushroom imports their dough okay from from corporate.
Don Mock 8:12
Dude, you just outed them.
We didn’t make dough in Dallas. I did when I worked at Johnny’s pizza.
Don Mock 8:16
I thought that was their whole thing. I thought it was the spring flower dough or spring mountain dough or whatever.
I know what the secret is. I don’t want to-
Don Mock 8:23
Don’t get yourself in trouble. Mellow Mushroom makes a good pizza.
It’s not spring water. It’s sugar. It’s molasses.
Don Mock 8:31
In any case, I’ve worked on a couple different dough recipes, played around with a couple of different cans of tomatoes to use. Shout out to Bianco DiNapoli.
Don Mock 8:47
Yeah, their brand from Chris Bianco, who’s one of the famous pizza chefs here in America.
Don Mock 8:54
They grow tomatoes in California. There was this whole scandal a few years back about San Marzano tomatoes.
Don Mock 9:02
New York Times did a big article on it. And basically, the majority of tomatoes that you bought at the store that said San Marzano were not from San Marzano.
Don Mock 9:12
It makes sense. I mean, there’s no way this one little place in Italy is making-
Don Mock 9:17
- could supply the entire world with tomatoes. But but then did they switch the packaging to like “San Marzano style”?
Yes, that’s exactly what they had to do. So some of them like the you know, say DOP and that’s supposedly the real ones. But this guy, Chris Bianco, is growing tomatoes in California and they are fantastic. So I haven’t switched from that after. Really for a good pizza sauce, all you need is like a pinch of salt. And then I’ll kind of like brew some basil. Put it in the sauce.
Don Mock 9:48
Mmm, love me some basil.
Just put it in the fridge for a couple of days.
Don Mock 9:51
You got to let it sit for a couple days though?
It I think you were better like that. The basil kind of infuses into the sauce and then you add a little bit of olive oil, too. Okay, that’s about it.
Don Mock 10:04
Alright, so those are the tomatoes. What are we doing for the dough recipe that you’re making?
This is where it gets a little tricky. What I’m doing now is something called a pre-ferment, which is kind of like making sourdough starter.
Don Mock 10:15
But instead of using time to make the yeast, you just basically put in the instant yeast or the baker’s yeast.
Don Mock 10:25
With half and half, water and flour. Which is more like a pancake kind of consistency.
Don Mock 10:34
And then that will start to double in size, and then I’ll let that ferment in the fridge for a day.
Don Mock 10:42
Then I’ll take that goopy thing.
Don Mock 10:46
Yeah, what consistency is that? It’s solidified a little bit, right?
Yeah. It solidifies a little bit.
Don Mock 10:51
It not like pancake batter then. I mean, a day later, it’s kinda doughish, right?
Yeah, but it’s still quite liquidy because it’s only half and half, right? And then you add in the remaining flour and water.
Don Mock 11:03
What you want to do is kind of give it a good mix, until it’s at least kind of a loose consistency before adding salt.
Don Mock 11:11
Because salt and yeast are kind of enemies. The salt kind of deactivates the yeast.
Don Mock 11:16
So then I’ll kind of mix the dough together, knead it on the counter and that kind of thing. Then that’ll go in a bowl. Then that’ll go in the fridge for a day. Then I’ll the next day cut it and roll it.
Don Mock 11:31
Yeah, so we’ve got a three day thing here.
It’s a three day process.
Don Mock 11:33
I mean, we’ve got two days on our tomato infusion scenario. And then we’ve got a couple of days on the on the dough as well.
If I know people are coming over, I’ll make pizza, usually.
Don Mock 11:40
Okay, now I’m gonna say the third massive ingredient in any successful pizza is going to be cheese, so talk to me about cheese.
I’m not making any mozzarella.
Don Mock 11:51
I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that. What are we procuring for cheese for your preferred pizza? It’s at home.
Alright, so I will say with some of these pizza ovens, they get up to really high temps.The part skim, low moisture shredded mozzarella, or even if you shred a little block of mozzarella yourself. It tends to burn up pretty quick.
Don Mock 12:12
I was about to say, that’s gonna cook faster.
So for the high temp pizza ovens, you’re really supposed to go with more of a neapolitan style. So fresh mozzarella is going to work better. If you cook with fresh mozzarella in like a standard oven, you end up with a lot of water on the pizza.
Don Mock 12:32
But when it’s at high temp, that evaporates.
Don Mock 12:36
so almost a wet a wet cheeses preferred with the high temp pizza ovens. Interesting.
Because it won’t burn and by the time it starts to melt and get the little, you know, brown bubbles on it. Yeah, everything has-
Don Mock 12:47
Everything else has caught up to it. Okay, cool.
So you can use cow’s milk mozzarella, like a belgioioso makes it pretty good fresh mozz. And you can get that at Kroger. Okay, anywhere. But-
Don Mock 13:01
If you want to kick it up a notch, because I can see the gleam in your eye right now.
Yeah, you want a buffalo mozzarella?
Don Mock 13:07
Buffalo mozzarella? Yeah. Okay. ]
And that comes from like a water buffalo, kind of thing. Which is standard for a true Italian pizza.
Don Mock 13:16
I think antiguo around here, which is just around the corner, they use a buffalo mozzarella that they say they import from Italy. And then they also use something called scamorza cheese, which I’ve tried to get my hands on and cannot find.
Don Mock 13:30
Hard to find, huh?
Yeah, I don’t know.
Don Mock 13:32
Probably not a retail thing, you probably have to buy from a food distributor.
It’s very similar to mozzarella. Yeah, I think it’s maybe a tad smokier.
Don Mock 13:40
What do they do over there, they blend it or it’s a little bit of this?
They cut it up into kind of like chunks and the scamorza goes underneath. And then they kind of put the sauce on top of that. I think that that’s how that doesn’t burn as quickly. The fresh mops goes on top.
Don Mock 13:54
Goes on top. Okay. All right. So for those following at home, you got two days on your dough.
Don Mock 14:00
Three days on the dough. You got two days on the sauce. Okay, we Just talked about cheese. Allright How does it all come together? And what what do we do at your house?
Basically, if you’re making the dough from scratch, you’re gonna want to take the dough out about 30 minutes before use it.
Don Mock 14:16
And that’ll kind of loosen it up a little bit.
Don Mock 14:20
Then you shape it?
Yeah. Then I’m going to stretch it out. A lot of times the Neapolitan dough, the moisture level is so high that, there’s no spinning this dough. I used to throw the dough at Mellow. This is just, there’s no possible way to do that. It’s very delicate. And it puffs up really nicely. You’ll get like a big crumb inside the crust. So you’re gonna stretch the dough, and you’re gonna want to go with lighter amounts of ingredients. You don’t want to like overload your pizza.
Don Mock 14:52
Yeah, it’s not like it’s not like the shack pepperoni, Papa John’s, wall to wall sausage on this whole thing.
You do not want to do that. Just want to go light on all the ingredients. Lightly layer a sauce. I’ll sometimes put put like a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano on top of the sauce.
Don Mock 15:11
Then the fresh mozz. Sometimes I’ll throw basil on it before it goes into the oven, but only a little bit and then I’ll put more fresh on.
Don Mock 15:19
I think fresh at the end is the best because
It’s so going to work well with just the heat of the-
Don Mock 15:22
Well and you’ve got it infused in the sauce as well.
And then just a drizzle of olive oil. It goes in the oven.
Don Mock 15:24
What’s the oven temp? And how long is it in there for?
Usually the front of the oven. I have at about 750 back is closer to 900
Don Mock 15:39
I will turn the flame down a bit for those of you if you’re getting an Ooni, turn the turn the flame up all the way at the beginning about 30 minutes before you put the pizza in.
Don Mock 15:49
Get that baby rockin?
Yeah, get the whole thing, the stone really hot. And then before you put it in, turn the dial and back. You can always bring the flame back up, but oh god, man I’ve –
Don Mock 15:58
I’ve scorched a few. Yeah, it took some trial and error.
Don Mock 16:02
Yeah. All right. So we throw the pizza in there after we dialed back, how long?
About two minutes.
Don Mock 16:05
Two minutes. That’s it?
Yeah, you can lower the flame a bit more and go to like two or three minutes, but it depends on how crispy.
Don Mock 16:13
So it’s like a three and a half day experience, for two minutes a joy.
For two minutes of making the pizza. Yeah. And then recently, I tried to copy one of our favorites, the San Genarro at Antico.
Don Mock 16:16
It’s got the roasted red peppers on there. It’s got, is that a sausage sausage?
Yeah, they say that it’s a Chicago Italian sausage. So what I did, is I just copied a Chicago Italian sausage recipe and actually made enough where I prepped it, where it’s like I’ve got a month’s worth of sausage in my freezer.
Don Mock 16:45
Well, hey, man, bring some in.
Yeah, it’s good. It tastes really good.
Don Mock 16:48
All right. So from the beginning of the year till now, how many pizzas have we made at the household?
Probably about 30.
Don Mock 16:55
30 pizzas okay, but some of them scorched as we’re trial and error.
Some of it’s, you know, you get a ball of mozzarella. You get a big cannon tomatoes. The dough, you may as well just make three or four dough balls, and then you’re not really wasting anything by just making more now. And you know, throw it in the fridge.
Don Mock 17:15
Plus you love it, man. It’s awesome. All right. That is phenomenal. Now now all the listeners know why we brought you on to chat about pizza, right? It’s fun. Everybody loves pizza. What’s your favorite pizza in Atlanta? In metro Atlanta?
It’s gotta be Antico.
Don Mock 17:32
Is it? Antico.
The San Gennaro at Antico.
Don Mock 17:35
Its the best pizza in Atlanta. Yeah, I agree.
The margarita is really strong as well. But the San Gennaro is I mean, it’s got everything you want. It’s got sweet, it’s got spicy.
Don Mock 17:49
Yeah, I know. Whenever we go there, and get something that’s not San Gennaro, I just wish that I got San Gennaro. So it’s kind of like I’m a one trick pony. I just only order San Gennaro all the time.
You can you can get Antico now at the Battery Atlanta. Yeah, up by Truist Park.
There’s one up north too, in Avalon. Isn’t there wasn’t an Avalon? I think there’s one and Avalon up 400.
Oh, I didn’t know that.
Don Mock 18:07
Yeah, I think so.
They just made a new one in Tucker. Okay. It’s like 10 minutes from me.
Don Mock 18:12
Yeah, but the original… it’s hard to knock the original. man. You sit back in the kitchen, it’s awesome.
The I will say the one in Tucker, they have a nice big oven, but it is gas. There is no wood burning in there. So there’s a slight difference there. But I will say, it’s Antico pizza.
Don Mock 18:28
I think when Mercedes Benz first opened, they had it down there in the club, but it didn’t last. I mean, it’s been replaced. The restaurants in that in that venue change so often.
I know it like at the battery one, they run out of dough, pretty quickly.
Don Mock 18:41
Do they really?
Yeah. Always says like “will sell until we run out of dough.” But I haven’t eaten at that one outside the stadium.
Don Mock 18:48
Yeah, we pretty much just stick to the OG.
The original location.
Don Mock 18:51
Yeah, it’s super good.
I will say it’s got to be the best pizza. It might be the best pizza in the southeast.
Don Mock 18:57
You’ve been to Italy?
Don Mock 19:01
I’ve been to Italy, and we’ve been in New York. I would say Antico holds up pretty close to some of the best pizzas I’ve had anywhere else.
Don Mock 19:11
I would second that thought. I would say that that definitely is in the top five pizzas that I’ve experienced. I would say Nick’s in Queens, many, many moons ago. I told you the story. It’s the only time I’ve ever been to a restaurant, where with with a big group of friends, we all we had a bunch of pizzas. It was delicious. And all of us were like, Man, that was good. I could do that all over again. And we just ordered it all up. Just ordered the exact same thing. We did. And we sat there and it basically had two meals in a row. It was totally ridiculous.
Nothing wrong with that. The Boroughs does tend to have some of the best pizza ever.
Don Mock 19:43
Agreed. Agreed. But I mean, even though I will you know, I’ve been to Italy. I didn’t go to Italy to eat pizza. So I mean, I don’t even really remember if I had any pizza or not. And it wasn’t like oh, I’m down in Naples. Check it out their version versus this version.
I was very young when I was to Italy. I mean, I was 18. I was working at Mellow, I was somewhat passionate about pizza at the time. But I hadn’t been to New York and I hadn’t even tried something like Antico’s at the time. I was just sort of measuring this against what I knew like Mellow Mushroom, Little Casesar’s…
Don Mock 20:18
Of course I thought it was the best pizza. I’d like to go back now and have a different experience.
Don Mock 20:24
Totally. You should. I don’t know that your boss is gonna let you have any time off for that.
I want to go. Angela’s never been to Italy.
Don Mock 20:30
Really? You guys definitely need to go.
That’s the food trip of food trip’s.
Don Mock 20:34
Oh, yeah. That should be fun. All right. So Rob, and I did a podcast a couple episodes ago talking about our least favorite mascots, and least favorite mascots. And it’s funny that both of us came up with the Noid from Domino’s as our least favorite mascot, right?
Don Mock 20:51
You remember the Noid?
Don Mock 20:53
Well, okay, well, we’re gonna skip, go back and listen to a couple of our podcasts. This was a long winded way of basically transitioning to, since we are advertising and design, and we’ve spent 20 minutes talking about how to make the perfect pizza home. Pizza branding, and pizza, whatever. What’s your thoughts? Anything related to any of the big sort of national chains? Do you have a love or a hate or anything?
As we talked about a little bit before during the podcast, Little Caesars definitely has the best branding.
Don Mock 21:23
Yeah, it’s been tweaked over the years.
Don Mock 21:26
So of all the big guys Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Mellow, Pizza Hut whatever. You think Little Caesars has the best branding?
Has the best branding. We’re not talking about pizza quality. I’m not talking about quality. Love their branding. I love that they have a mascot.
Don Mock 21:42
The little guy, the little Greek guy.
They have they have a slogan. You know, it’s better than Papa John’s.
Don Mock 21:50
Well, Papa John’s has been through some turmoil over the past several years.
Shout out to Shaq for saving the company.
Don Mock 21:55
Yeah, for sure. For sure. I do love the the recent rebrand of I mean, the evolution of what Little Caesars has done right? They’ve kept with the little mascot, but kind of re-illustrated and modernized him a little bit. They’ve got the Greek pattern on his little toga. But if you if you look closely, that Greek pattern actually is an LC for Little Caesars, which is cool. He still got the spear with the two pizzas on it, you know.
It got cleaned up very nicely.
Don Mock 22:22
Yes, yeah, they did a great job of sort of re-injecting some modern life into that brand.
And they kept the orange but they almost made the orange little bit more dominant in the color scheme of the brand.
Don Mock 22:33
I do think that’s cool.
It’s a bit more of a bold design now.
Don Mock 22:35
Yeah, yeah. No, I agree. I think I would second that. I think Little Caesars has the most fun, approachable brand for sort of mass pizza.
I would say, Mellow Mushroom has fun branding it from the standpoint that it’s kind of 60s and hip. They’ve stuck to their roots.
Don Mock 22:53
That said, their branding is less consistent than some of these other big brands.
Don Mock 22:58
Yeah. But I think that’s kind of part of the vibe.
It’s more eclectic.
Don Mock 23:01
Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of like Sweetwater Brewery for quite a long time. Now they’ve been bought and sold a bunch of times, but it was, the brand is kind of chaotic, sort of tie dye, whatever. It doesn’t have to be consistent across the board. The product so good. Who cares about, you know, keep an eye on brand standards?
A lot of the bottles looked very different.
Don Mock 23:22
They’ve always had like a very complex logo. They’re not a clean and simple type brand at all.
Don Mock 23:27
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I would say normally, I would say hey, what’s your favorite? What’s your least favorite? But I don’t think we should go into least favorite pizza in town. I don’t want to get in trouble. You know, or least favorites pizza branding and whatnot.
It’s all pizza. Yeah, I only had one bad pizza. Ironically, it was in New York.
Don Mock 23:43
Yeah. It was like 2am. Ang and I ordered some to-go pizza, and it was terrible.
Don Mock 23:50
I don’t I don’t remember what the place was called.
Don Mock 23:53
No, I’m a fan of hey, even the worst piece of pizza you’re eating. you’re still eating pizza and it’s still delicious.
Like Totino’s party pizza. Like 98 cents? Those were great in college.
Don Mock 24:03
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. All right. Well, any more to add related to “how to make your own pizza”?
There’s a lot to add, but that’s a good starting place.
Don Mock 24:12
Okay. Okay. We’ll save it for another podcast, right? Sort of the pizza episode, follow up number two or whatever. All right, everybody. Well, thanks for tuning in and listening. You can follow us follow us on line at mocktheagency.com and all the socials and we will chat with you next time. Thanks.