By Ethan Corbin
Ever wonder what it is like to make pizzas at Casa’s? Probably not, but I am going to tell you about it anyway. I have been working at the Casa Grille location on Stellhorn for eleven months. I started as a dishwasher, and four months ago, I made my way up to making and baking pizzas.
It was a difficult process at first to learn what goes on a pizza, what technique and order to put the toppings on, and of course the most dreadful step of all…stretching the dough.
After an order comes through on the printer through the computer system that the servers use to enter customers’ orders, the very first step is to stretch the dough (there are two other options that don’t require stretching dough—the cauliflower crust and gluten free crust). The dough varies, depending on who had made the actual dough itself, as one prepper may put in too much of one ingredient or not enough of another, which creates a myriad of dough textures and strength which all plays into how a pizza cook is going to stretch the dough.
My preferred method for when I get an ideal batch of dough is to slowly pull the dough out as I move the dough like a jump rope up and down. Then I rotate the dough and repeat the process until I have determined the dough is the right size to start adding sauce and toppings. At Casa’s there are 10 unique pizzas and a calzone and sausage roll that we bake in our large wood-fired oven/furnace.
- Amante (meat lover’s pizza)
- Veggie (broccoli, tomato, onions, mushrooms, and eggplants, yes, it is very disgusting, please do not order it).
- BBQ Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken
- Chicago Style (large sausage patty, mozzarella cheese)
- Calzone (ricotta cheese, sauce, pepperoni, sausage, and cheese)
- Sausage Roll
- Tutti (sausage, pepperoni, cheese, and mushroom)
- Napoli (cheese pizza)
- Margherita (tomatoes, cheese, and basil)
- Cauliflower (cauliflower crust, light garlic mayo sauce, chicken, mushroom, onions, bacon, cheese, and spinach).
All pizza options can sub in gluten free crust, or cauliflower crust. However, choosing cauliflower crust makes my life a lot easier, because I do not have to stretch out the dough.
Once a pizza is prepared it is put into the wood-fired oven/furnace to bake, which we must always keep an eye on and add logs to make sure the fire does not burn out or get too hot as to burn the pizzas. Sometimes the wood that is set to the side in the oven catch aflame on accident and the whole oven gets to be bursting with flames and smoke, (don’t worry though, the smoke does not go out of the oven into the dining room).
The oven could easily hold twenty pizzas inside, however this is not at all ideal and has little to no capability of making good pizzas. Instead, we typically will have no more than seven pizzas in the furnace, but we do prefer to make it no more than five pizzas to give as much breathing room as possible and cook a significant number of pizzas, especially when the grill cook, who grills the about every chicken that is produced in the restaurant as well as a plethora of other menu items, must start putting their items into the pizza oven.
After all the talking about the oven and its open flame, some may be wondering how likely it is to burn myself, and the answer is very likely. Though, it is not with the fire that I burn myself it is with the pizza’s that I burn myself, especially with the Chicago and Amante pizzas that have to be pre-baked (simply tossing the dough into the oven before adding toppings) and then formed to make a sort of deep-dish pizza. When forming the deep dish my fingertips feel like they are being stung and pulled off my finger. And it is very often that I burn my hand when checking the crust to see if it is being cooked decent when I touch the scorching sauce of almost all pizzas or the molten barbecue sauce of the aptly named BBQ Pizza.
Now if you recall I mentioned that I did the dishes at Casa’s when I am not working a pizza shift. As a pizza cook, I don’t generate too many dishes (not necessarily plates but rather plastic tubs, containers, and things such as pizza cutters) that need washing but the ones I do create I take back to the dishwashers and when I say that I felt the biggest smirk form across my face when I delivered my first dishes to the guys on my first pizza shift. It felt good to not have to get my hands dirty washing something that I had to make dirty. And the biggest pro of all is not having to get my hands get soaking wet after hours of dishes, most dishwashing shifts my hands turn into raisins at the end.
All in all, working pizzas at Casa’s is a fun experience especially when paired with good co-workers. My favorite two co-workers are brothers, one of which is a busboy, and the other is a grill cook, and it is even nicer when they both start to do some pizzas when I am trying to close my station. In the end working pizzas is a very positive job to work, and I would recommend it to anyone who would want to cook pizzas part time and burn yourself.