This week we sat down with Brion at Fiamma; this guy knows his way around pizza. Fiamma has amazing lunch and dinner as well a great patio to enjoy this weather. Make sure to stop by and check them out, or find their offers on The House app.
Q. How did you get started cooking?
Brion- That’s a great question; just at my house really. It started with breakfast, I was big on breakfast and then became more interested in other stuff. When I graduated, I hopped on at Five guys while I figured out what I wanted to do for a little under a year. Then we (Brion & his wife) moved to Atlanta which has this incredible food scene we were exposed to, but I was actually not involved; I was working in a climbing gym. I spent the next year traveling all the time. We went to France, Italy, England, Spain and stateside we explored California, Colorado, Texas and more.
Over that period I was exposed to such different cuisine, but it was really in France that I got hooked. In total I have spent about 3 months their (France) over 3-4 different trips. We had some great meals but honestly we had some horrible food as well, one place had this pumpkin mousse that was so awful, I’ll never forget it.
Q. What made you choose pizza?
Brion- I saw the opportunity for something like Fiamma in Chatt after seeing it in so many other places. We started really focusing on visiting every pizza place that we could, this is like 3-4 years before we even opened our doors we were doing all this research. I moved back to Chatt from Atlanta and got started on Fiamma. I thought it would be few months but it was like 2 years.
Q.Tell me about learning how to make great pizza- you had a cool experience, right?
Brion- I knew I wanted to learn how to do pizza right and authentic. I found a course that focused on Neapolitan pizza crafting but I couldn’t get into any school in Italy because you had to speak fluent Italian. Then we found the APN(Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani) which was based in New York. The course was an intensive course that was 1 on 1 with someone who truly knew how to make every aspect of the pizza right. For 4 hours every morning I made crust, that’s it, just over and over again until I had it perfect. Stretching dough well is hard, getting every bubble to the edge, making it perfectly even and the right thickness. One of the guys there had been training to make great crust for 9 months and he said he just had gotten it to where everyone was “perfect.” After the first week I had only made a couple that they thought were “perfect,” but by the end I had it down. I don’t regret the attention to detail or high standards of my teachers at all because you have to be nit picky about every component to make great pizza.
Q. Favorite pizza on the menu?
Brion- The Margarita with Buffalo Mozzarella, when you eat as much pizza as I do you just want to taste those simple flavors without a ton of toppings. Honestly with good authentic pizza, simpler is better. The more stuff you add the less you can taste the flavor of great crust, sauce and cheese.
Q. So there are 3 main components of pizza (Crust, Sauce & Cheese) put them in order of importance?
Brion- Dough/crust is by far number #1. Crust will make or break your pizza. Not only does it have to have good flavor but the right texture and strength to hold the toppings without being too thick. Sauce (great San Marzano Tomatoes and salt and boom it’s perfect) and third is cheese. All three have to be great every time though, you can’t cut corners with your ingredients. We use the best cheese and tomatoes we can get our hands on, and I talked earlier about how much time goes into my dough. I guess you could say the closer to the top of the pizza, the less important.
Q. Let talk about the wood burning oven, how crucial is that?
Brion- The wood that you use gives another layer of flavor to your crust. Gas oven cooked pizzas just don’t have anywhere close to as much flavor. We try to stay at 750 to 800 degrees, with Neapolitan pizza the heat of the oven is actually what gives it’s texture. Take 500 degrees vs 800 degrees, lower temperatures give you crunchy and hard crust, where with high temp your going to get this soft, airy crust that has such an incredible texture, in addition to the nice charred bubbles that every one loves.
Q. You’re going to a deserted island, what three foods are you bringing?
Brion- 1. Pizza, I eat it everyday and I’m not tired of it. 2. Popsicles because it’s hot on the island. 3. Unlimited supply of good bone in ribeye that I can cook on an open fire on the beach.
Q.Favorite place in town besides Fiamma?
Brion- Sweet Basil Thai, I love Asian Food and their’s is the best. (I have to agree with him here).