11 years ago

We have a group of chefs whose responsibility is to create new, innovative and delicious prepared foods for our customers to enjoy. The most recent project that I had the pleasure of working on was our new Take & Bake Pizzas that are now available in our delis. I had a great time creating these pizzas and I had a great resource pool to pull from. I want to take a quick second and thank all of you that provided me feedback, ideas and mouths to taste all the delightful flavor combinations. 

If you have not, they can be found in the Deli Great Food Fast case along with all of the other great “Ready to Bake” items. We have created over a dozen new styles or combinations along with several tried and true classics.

When developing these pizzas, there were a few core values that I wanted to stick to. One is that I wanted to make sure that we were exclusively using cheese made by our neighbor to the East. All Pizzas are topped with Wisconsin made cheeses such as Mozzarella, Blue Cheese, Smoked Gouda & Provolone, Asiago, Romano and of course, Parmesan.

Another core value was to keep it simple and taste great. A key to keeping it simple and tasting great is to use high quality, fresh and flavor filled ingredients. This may sound easy but it isn’t as simple as knowing what ingredient you want use and using it. We have to make sure that it is the right product so we go through many tests and trials. An example would be the pepperoni we use. We tasted and tested over ten different brands, types and sizes before we landed on the “the one for us.”

When you think about what goes on a pizza, you say “how hard can it be?” Well I admit my thoughts were originally the same, but I once I started researching all the attributes or things that were required for “Grab & Go” pizza I changed my thoughts. I was asked to create a pizza that would be even better than those fresh “Take & Bake” stores, which meant I needed a fresh dough crust. Beating the count I mentioned on the pepperoni, we tested and tasted over two dozen crusts before we found the one that had the “right stuff”. Through responses on Facebook when we asked for ideas, we knew our customers were looking for both a thin style and flavorful crust. After many “carb crash” afternoons we found it and I think you may agree.

However, the key to this great crust is actually the tray that we use. One of key initiatives we have as a company is to use as many environmentally friendly ingredients and packaging as we can. The tray we are using is actually made from Bamboo pulp and is fully compostable. I have to tell you, I was a bit skeptical because it looked like it would burn when baked. When I was test baking the pizza (once again I tested several different trays, even the one all those “Take & Bake” stores use) I found that this was the perfect marriage for this crust. It bakes off to a light and fluffy, but also crisp thin style crust.

I could go on and on about developing new items, so maybe I will write about that some more for the next installment. Here are a few pizzas that I am pretty excited for you to taste and enjoy:

Smoked Tomato & Pepperoni: 
We pushed the envelope a little bit on this one. The sauce used on this pizza is made using a pesto made with arugula, pistachios and sundried tomatoes. Then it is topped with mozzarella cheese, sliced pepperoni, smoked Roma tomatoes and finished with shredded parmesan. I knew this pizza would be great when the idea presented itself, but I could not find smoked tomatoes anywhere. So, we built our own cold smoker and smoke them fresh to order! 

Buffalo Chicken: 
This is one of my personal favorites. This pizza is loaded with the original style buffalo wing sauce. This sauce in incorporated into not only the creamy buffalo sauce on the pizza but the chicken is also tossed in the sauce just before it is put on the pizza. And, of course, we finish the pizza with crumbled blue cheese. Only thing missing is the celery. Sorry, it just didn’t make the cut. 

Quattro Formaggi: 
My kids love this one! We start with our fresh made alfredo style sauce made with loads of cream, parmesan and Romano cheese. Then, we top it off with loads of mozzarella cheese, cheddar and asiago cheese. I guess that actually makes it five cheeses, oops! 

And just so you know, we are not finished with the eight styles we launched in July. Over the next six months we are planning on another eight pizzas. Just to whet your whistle…here are a few that I am working on:

  • Philly Cheese Steak
  • Capicolla Ham & Pepperoni
  • Sliced Meatball
  • Twin Cities BBQ Chicken
  • Supremo
  • Ranchero

Please enjoy! We would love to hear your feedback along with what other pizza varieties you would like to see us create for your dining pleasure. Let me know what you think!

Tim Tesch, chef