Chef’s Corner: Will Grant, Award Wining Vegetarian Gorgonzola Pizza
The winner of the 2017 Caputo Cup shares his championship recipe and the story of his family’s historic sourdough starter.
Seattle is best known for its rainy days, the Space Needle, and being the birthplace of grunge music and Starbucks. But it also has some great pizza, thanks to pizzeria operators like Will Grant of That’s A Some Pizza (pronounced as you’d expect, with a little Italian flair) on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Grant, winner of the 2017 Caputo Cup in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and his family have been working in the pizza and restaurant business ever since he was a self-described wild child in the 1980s. But they’ve put their own historic twist on their recipes, acting as caretakers for one of the world’s oldest sourdough starters.
When the Klondike in northwestern Canada became a gold rush area in the 1890s, the rule for speculators was that they needed to have enough food for a year due to the harsh conditions. Because the Yukon territory is too cold to grow food, you basically had to pack in all your provisions. The best solution was a starter, so you would always be able to make bread. Miners would actually sleep with their starters to keep it warm, alive and active.
With its own 120-year old sourdough starter from the Klondike gold rush era, That’s A Some Pizza has been creating sourdough pizzas since 1984. Grant was kind enough to share the recipe for his Caputo Cup-winning pie with us, so let’s dive right in before it gets cold. (You like that? An Alaska joke.)
But first, a few words of wisdom from our featured pizzaiolo:
“You have to always be hiring. You can’t not be hiring. You can’t not be training. You have always got to be working with and on someone. You have to inspire them. A lot of people in the industry started in a pizzeria or something similar, and they don’t always take it too seriously. To them, it’s a side job. But I am trying to make a bunch of copies of me to run these stores, so I have to push them, give them direction and goals to keep them focused. As I said, no one will care as much as you do about your shop. Make them care.” —Will Grant
Caputo Cup-Winning Recipe: The Gorgonzola Vegetarian
80 oz. high-gluten flour
48 oz. cold water
32 oz. sourdough starter
2.4 oz. honey
2 oz. salt
1.6 oz. canola oil
.56 qt. (18.12 fl. oz.) buttermilk
8 oz. sour cream
3 c. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. minced garlic (not granulated)
1 tsp. black pepper
.6 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 lb. Gorgonzola cheese (use blue cheese if Gorgonzola isn’t available)
Add all ingredients except for Gorgonzola. Mix until completely blended. Add the Gorgonzola and mix at a very low speed. Leave some of the Gorgonzola in larger chunks to create texture. Do not completely imulsify.
25-oz. sourdough dough ball (for a 16” pizza)
4 oz. Gorgonzola sauce (see recipe above)
7 oz. mozzarella-provolone blend (80-20 ratio)
1 c. button mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
²/³ c. red onions, sliced in semicircles
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1 tbsp. minced garlic
²/³ c. feta cheese, finely crumbled
Creating a Sourdough Starter
Combine ¾ c. flour and ½ c. warm water in a glass or plastic container. Make sure the container can hold about 2 quarts to avoid overflow. Stir vigorously to incorporate air; cover with a breathable lid.
Leave in a warm place at 70-85°F for 12 to 24 hours. Feeding every 12 hours will increase the rate at which your sourdough starter’s organisms multiply; feeding every 24 hours will take a bit longer, but it may be more sustainable, depending on your time commitment.
At the 12- or 24-hour mark, you may begin to see some bubbles, indicating that organisms are present. Repeat the feeding with ½ c. warm water and ¾ c. flour. Stir vigorously, cover, and wait another 12 to 24 hours. Repeat feedings every 12 to 24 hours by removing half of the starter before every feeding and discarding it. Feed with ½ c. warm water and ¾ c. flour.
After about 5 to 7 days, the sourdough starter should have enough yeasts and bacteria to be used for baking.
Mix all ingredients and allow to cold ferment for 72 hours. After fermenting, roll out onto a 16” pizza screen and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Add Gorgonzola sauce and the mozzarella-provolone blend. Spread the mushrooms evenly on the pie and top with red onion slices. Evenly sprinkle pie with the pine nuts and minced garlic. Bake the pie for 7 minutes at 530° (in a deck oven) until crust is golden-brown.
After the bake, cut the pie and add finely crumbled feta. Cover and let the feta melt into pie. Serve and enjoy!
That’s it, pizza people, the award-winning Gorgonzola Vegetarian pie from That’s A Some Pizza in Bainbridge Island, Washington! Please check out the online interview with owner and champion Will Grant for more information about That’s A Some Pizza, sourdough pies and Washington pizza in general at pmq.com/willtalks.