Mister Alex Moody told our photographer that he doesn't like being called "Chef", but instead sees himself as a "bomb pizza maker". As someone who worked his way up from dishwasher 10 years ago, I suppose he's earned it. Here's what this week's subject has to say about the art of pizza for Newport Coast's Settebello.
Most undervalued ingredient:
00 flour. Our flour is what makes our pizzas. Not the oven; not the pizza maker. The flour. We use two different protein strengths to give us the best fermentation that is possible to make sure the dough is absolutely perfect every single time.
What is your philosophy on pizza?
Pizza is like sex. When it's good, it's good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good. . . just kidding. Every pizzeria has its place. Ours is just a different level of pizza. When I'm training a new pizza maker, I tell them to treat the dough like they would treat their women. Treat them with respect. If you don't go out of your way to make sure the dough, ingredients, oven or anything else isn't perfect, then the pizza will do the same back to you.
Tell us about the concept and story behind Settebello.
The name Settebellow is Italian for seven beautiful. It comes from a card game called Scopa. The Settebello is the most valued card in the game. The concept is bomb pizza from Italy. Quick-fired pizza that cooks in under a minute has also been around for 200 years. New York or Chicago style can't even say that.
It's breakfast; what are you making?
Two eggs, tortillas, cottage cheese with black pepper and strawberries with Sriracha on top. French pressed coffee with Sugar in the Raw and almond milk, with Netflix playing X-Files.
One stereotype about your industry and whether it's true.
Kitchen life: At work at 9 a.m. and working till after closing time. Sometimes 15 hour days. Sleeping in your car so you don't have to drive to work so you an sleep an extra 30 minutes. Yes, it's true; we've all done it.
Tell me about the turning point in your career when you knew you wanted to be in the industry.
I never really thought about it. To be honest, it fell into my lap. It's amazing what happens when you show up for work, my dad always said to me.
What do you recommend for first-timers?
KISS - Keep it simple, stupid. This totally applys with our pizza. A Margherita pizza is going to be the changing point for everyone. It is literally food fit for a Queen. Hence where it gets its name.
Let's discuss being VPN Certified.
Vera Pizza Napoletana. VPN is the standard of pizza, not pies. It means we make it a certain way. No machines; all by hand. It's cooked at a certain temp, with certain technique; It has to be done in a certain timeframe. The dough has to cook a certain way. No exceptions. No pepperioni. No chicken bbq pizzas. Only the good stuff. Mortadella, prosciutto crudo, salame, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil. VPN demands the best pizza and skill. That's what we give. That is what it means to be VPN.
Where did you grow up, and where do you consider home?
I grew up across America. Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Florida, Ohio again, back to Utah and California. As far as home goes, it's where my family lives. Bountiful Utah, just north of where I started with this compnay, SLC.
Favorite childhood memory.
I grew up in South Dakota with my two older brothers Sean (now 32) and Tyson (now 31). I miss making snow caves off the extra snow we would shovel off the roof. Miss playing with our dad's tools when we knew we would get into trouble. Those days are behind us, and with them having kids, I'm just trying to play catch up now.
What is your guilty pleasure food?
Fried ice cream.
Tell me something most people don't know about you.
I've made numerous screen accurate Star Wars costumes from scratch.
Let's talk about the pizza oven and cooking times.
From start to finish, meaning from a dough ball to a plate, the fastest I've made a Margherita pizza is 1:16 (one minute and sixteen seconds). Pizzas usually cook in about 45-60 seconds, and we top each pizza in about 20 seconds. The oven is around 900 degrees.
What was the last thing you looked up online?
Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones!
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What happens on your day off?
First, I don't understand the question. Day off. That's a joke. I work every day. However, when I have free time, I enjoy longboarding at some of the local spots. Kick back a few brews with the boys and catch some waves with my girl. Sounds like heaven.
Hardest life lesson learned.
Hardest life lesson is never buy a new car. What a joke that is. If you can't buy it in cash, it's not worth owning, in my opinion.
What other professions would you like to explore?
I have a few things I'd like to check out before I check out. Nursing or being a diesel mechanic.