At 12.30 on a Saturday we trickle into Salt Meats Cheese for a two-hour workshop on the art of pizza-making. There are two trainers, an Italian chap (whose name I can’t recall, soz) and a bubbly blonde (again soz, I’m terrible with names). The mics seemed a bit impersonal, although they were kind of necessary because there were so many of us spanning across these benches.
We start with hand-mixing the dough and shaping it into a ball, which is easy enough. The ball of dough is bagged, and this is the stuff we take home to cook at our own leisure. Pre-prepared balls of dough are handed around so we can practice the different shaping techniques.
We’re given a demo of four different methods of shaping the pizza dough. The easiest way is with a rolling pin of course; another technique is a circular shaping movement using two hands; a third is using the side of the table, and letting gravity form the pizza round, and the last is the most theatrical throwing them from one arm to the other.
My qualms with this class were mostly to do with the waiting time. Two people at a time are sent off to add their desired toppings, then the pizzas are chucked into the oven for a few minutes. But because there were over 20 people attending, this got pretty tedious.
But on the upside, the pizza is friggin delicious. My choice of toppings were mushrooms (which had been pre-cooked with garlic and herbs), mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and parmesan shavings on top. Eric went with a draping of prosciutto on top.
For $89 it’s decent value – you learn pizza techniques, you get to eat a pizza with a glass of wine for lunch (and if you don’t finish it, they’ve prepped pizza boxes), you take home a ball of pizza dough to create your own pizza masterpiece at home, and you get 10% off any purchases in-store.
Now when we make these pizzas at home, they’re ridiculously different from what we created in class. I’d most likely attribute this to the lack of a monster pizza oven in our apartment (damn it – why can’t we have nice things). The crust tastes different and the dark blistering is missing. It definitely tastes better than other homemade pizza attempts though – so at least there’s progress!
Disclaimer: I paid for our two spots in this masterclass, but I work in marketing for Brasserie Bread, who run 3-hour artisan baking classes. They’re much more personal and hands-on (with only a max of 10 students in each class), so I had some reservations about how Salt Meats Cheese have formatted their classes.