Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ed LaDou, Legend of Pizza

I went to lunch with some friends the other day. We ended up at California Pizza Kitchen. Certainly not my first choice, but I was out voted. Not that I have anything against CPK, the pizza there is OK. It's just that when I see the sign, I think it should be called "Ed LaDou's California Pizza Kitchen".

Let me explain. Ed LaDou is one of the true unsung heroes of pizza. When CPK was slated to open, the chef quit at the 11th hour. That left a brand new restaurant, without a menu. In a panic, the owner's contacted Ed to put a menu together. He was able to create an extraordinary menu of pizza, pasta and salads. Ed LaDou created the whole CPK concept. He also is credited with creating Wolfgang Puck's pizza menu.

Nobody really talks about the fact that Ed is a pizza genius. You can read the whole story by Joan Nathan, right here. It is a fasciating tale of pizza wonderment and adventure. You can see Ed in Pizza, The Movie. This movie is a must see for any pizza fan.

I was lucky enough to speak with Ed LaDou for my Legend's of Pizza Project. He was humble and unassuming. He was intelligent and forthcoming. He held nothing back.

Here is an excerpt of the interview:

Albert: What do you think is more important, Ed, the dough or the toppings?

Ed: "I don’t think either one is more important. That is kind of one of those divisive questions that west coast versus east coast.

Pizza is a whole. It’s kind of like you can’t take one from the other and you can’t isolate one and elevate it because then what you end up having is you end up having an unbalanced product. You want to have dough that compliments the toppings. You don’t want to have really strong flavored dough necessarily unless that’s an intentional part of your design.

You want to have everything kind of blend and balance so that nothing is kind of overwhelming. You know, a lot of people complain about Chicago pizza because it’s all too much bread. Chicago people don’t complain about it because they enjoy that.

The whole pizza experience is entirely subjective. It’s just based on whether or not you happen to strike the resonant cord for the clientele that you cultivated. The craft of pizza like anything you can do it without practice. The more practice you have, the better you get.

When you stop looking at how to improve and how to make it better and what it is that you’re doing and I’m seeing that a little bit more these days, people are trying to instead of bringing pizza forward they are trying to replicate this idea of authenticity based upon a real primitive pizza style. To the extent that it works, God bless them."

You can capture the entire interview on the CD Legends of Pizza, Volume 2.
The interview is also available on MP3, here.

The conversations with Ed along with five other master pizzaiolo is also available in e-book form. You can discover it on The Legends of Pizza Volume 1 and 2 e-book.

Thank you Ed, I am honored that you would take time to discuss pizza with me.

Pizza on Earth, Good will to All!

Albert Grande

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