- Nitin Joshi and the Pizza Hut team made as many as 600 pizzas before settling on the right recipe for the chain’s new Detroit-style pizza.
- Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, Joshi worked on much of the project from his home last year.
When Pizza Hut needed help developing its new Detroit-style pizza, it turned to a Dairy Management, Inc. scientist who goes by the nickname, “Dr. Cheese.”
According to Dairy Foods, Dr. Nitin Joshi, the vice president of product development for Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), and other DMI leaders met with Pizza Hut team members last year for a brainstorming session about the hottest food trends. From that meeting, the idea for Pizza Hut’s limited-time Detroit-style pizza emerged, as the group recognized the growing consumer interest in the Motor City style.
Joshi and the Pizza Hut reps made as many as 600 pizzas before finally settling on the right recipe. “There were a lot of challenges along with the way with ingredients to [ensure] that proper baking and quality could be accomplished in Pizza Hut restaurants across the country,” Joshi said. “We worked through those challenges, and I’m really proud and happy with the final result. I think the dairy community will really love this pizza and … seeing more cheese as a key ingredient.”
With COVID-19 requiring work-from-home measures at many companies, Joshi spent a lot of time on the project at his own house. “Working through this in a lockdown environment shows Nitin’s commitment to seeing this project through,” said Bernardo Callejas, senior vice president of global innovation partnerships for DMI. “There is nothing like a dairy champion embedded in our partnership to make sure what we’re developing and working on brings the highest return on investment for our farmer and importer checkoff funders.”
“This was Nitin’s baby for the last year,” Callejas added. “He lived and breathed Detroit-style pizza every single day.”
Joshi also worked on an earlier project to increase the amount of cheese on Pizza Hut’s pan pizzas by 25 percent, as Dairy Foods reported in 2018. The move benefited the dairy industry as Pizza Hut needed an additional 150 million pounds of milk annually to make the change. That project started in 2016 and ran all the way through 2017.
“Nitin’s drive, passion and vision for Detroit-style pizza showed every day” during the more recent project, said Penny Shaheen, Pizza Hut’s senior director of food innovation. “We’re thrilled to add another innovative and flavorful offering to our menu that responds to the trends we see that meet our consumers’ needs.”
Prior to his position at DMI, Joshi worked at the Campbell Soup Company, where he was involved with products like V8, Goldfish and Prego pasta sauces.
Pizza Hut hailed the new Detroit-style pizza as its “biggest launch for 2021” when it debuted last year. The pie comes in four varieties: the Double Pepperoni, the Double Cheesy, the Meaty Deluxe and the Supremo. Unlike traditional Detroit-style pies, Pizza Hut’s version does not use Wisconsin brick cheese and offers a combination of regular pepperoni slices and cup-and-char pepperoni.