Canadian Pizza Magazine

Cultural Infusion

By Timothy Twydell   

Features In the Kitchen Ingredients

Pizzaiolo brings ethnically inspired heat on his pizzas.

One of the challenges facing pizza restaurant operators is how to establish a truly unique product.

One of the challenges facing pizza restaurant operators is how to establish a truly unique product.
Pizzas are being introduced with thin crust, cheese in the crust, whole wheat, square, no cheese, extra cheese – the possibilities are virtually endless. So how does an operator create a product different from those other products being offered by the competition?

Syed Ahmed is the owner and operator of Double Double Pizza and Wings in Scarborough, Ont. Ahmed hopes to shake up the pizza landscape with an ethnically inspired pizza he calls “Desi Pizza,” targeted at his Pakistani clients, a Punjabi pizza for his Indian clientele and hot and spicy pizza for his store’s strong Jamaican/West Indian customer base.

Of Pakistani origin, Ahmed worked in a packaging plant for 28 years before being – as he puts it – “repackaged.” Armed with a bachelor of commerce degree, Ahmed bought a struggling Double Double franchise three years ago. Double Double Pizza and Wings is a chain of 70 stores, located in mostly urban centres throughout Ontario. The chain offers two-for-one pizza deals, fried chicken wings, potato wedges and salads.


The Hot ’N Spicy Pizza is a bold mélange of different ethnic ingredients inspired by Ahmed’s cultural background.

A versatile product, the pizza can be served on a variety of crusts – whole wheat, thin or regular – with up to eight different toppings.

The closely guarded secret (“I’ll never tell,” says Ahmed), is an infused sauce made up of green chili, garlic and coriander. Although it is truly a customer friendly product – there are wide choices of meat toppings available, including Halal meat choices for Muslim customers – it is not for the faint of heart. Before the pizza is slid into the oven it receives a healthy kick of dried garlic, salt dried chili peppers.  

 Syed and Izzat Ahmed at their
Scarborough Double Double pizzeria.

The process of creating a new pizza is fairly complicated. Ahmed explains: “It takes quite a few weeks with a lot of trial and error to get the best taste and aroma and right amount of ingredients to bake at right temperature. The process takes several weeks with many pizzas, shall we say, in the garbage before it reaches the customer.”

Once he was satisfied with his new product, Ahmed approached the head office of Double Double in hopes of securing approval for a tempting new dish.

“I got very positive responses, I served Mr. Jalili, the Founder of Double Double, and the rest of his staff the new pizza. I was excited and relieved to obtain his approval with their full endorsement and support.”

The Hot ’N Spicy Pizza has taken Ahmed’s Double Double franchise by storm. Not only is the pizza a big hit with his walk-in customers, but the catering base – including Canadian Clothing in Scarborough, which has over 150 employees of largely South Asian descent – are now devoted Hot ’N Spicy lovers.

For Ahmed, it’s business as usual. He is back in his living laboratory creating new and exciting recipes and ways to create pizza. He shares that the next stop might be a pizza pie with two crispy crusts and the ingredients sandwiched in the middle.

As he concludes, the Hot ’N Spicy Pizza is the perfect example of taking a western food, using ingredients and flavours from the Middle East and Southeast Asia to create a new and delicious fusion everyone can enjoy. •

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