Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stella Barra's Jeff Mahin on your right to pizza party

Posted By on 03.25.14 at 10:45 AM

Jeff Mahin

If you want to rile up the natives of Foodlandia, there's no better way than starting the deep-dish pizza argument (Is it a pizza? A casserole? An abomination unto the Lord?) yet again. Eater yesterday did that by getting Graham Elliot and David Posey of Blackbird, as well as Andrew Zimmern and New York's Mathieu Palombino, to cast the usual aspersions; as Chicagoist noted, this comes, ironically, just as New Yorkers are flocking to a hot new deep-dish pizza place in their city, Emmett's, which surely means that soon we'll have Manhattan transplants to Chicago whining on social media that there's nowhere to get a good New York-style deep dish in this backwater burg.

Coincidentally, I just happened to be planning to post a clip from the upcoming Key Ingredient shoot on the very subject of pizza orthodoxy. In this case, though, it's coming from the other, thinnest end of the pizza spectrum. I was a bit surprised to learn during the shoot that Jeff Mahin of Stella Barra Pizzeria runs his pizza ovens at a temperature in the 500-degree range. That's a home-oven temperature, and it's been the rule for a few years now that trendy new pizza places want to follow the model of Neapolitan pizzerias in running upward of 700 or 800 degrees, a temperature that activates 00 flour and cooks a thin pizza in two to three minutes. Making a powerful case for the laissez-faire philosophy expressed by Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers—"It's like pizza, baby, it's good no matter what"—Mahin explains how they arrived at their own style of pizza (thicker, takes ten to 12 minutes), and why that's just fine.

Watch him in the clip below the fold (which also offers a glimpse of him trying to teach me how to flip pizza in the air). The full episode will appear later in the week.

Jeff Mahin on Pizza from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

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