The Pizza Chef: Grilling Up Great Tastes

Grilling Up Great Tastes
Diana Coutu
May 31, 2007
By Diana Coutu
After the long, arduous freezing months of a Winnipeg winter, there’s nothing like sitting outdoors with little else on than a T-shirt and shorts while sipping a tall glass of something cold. One of the first real signs of summer is the smell of outdoor grills filling the neighbourhoods with the enticing aromas of food cooked over an open flame. It’s often the man’s domain – the grill that is. It seems that there’s nothing like cooking with fire to rouse up the caveman instincts of almost all men.

Husbands who rarely, if at all, used their ovens all winter are now anxious pacing about, wanting to cook every meal on the grill.

How to grill a pizza 
 1. Preheat your barbecue to 400 F.
2. Slap or roll out your small dough patty (8 oz) to between 1/8” and 1/4” thick.
3.  Poke with a fork several times.
4. Gently lay crust onto grill, close lid and grill for 2 minutes.
5. Flip crust, close lid and grill for 2 minutes.
6. Remove crust from grill.
7.  Lightly top crust with cheese, grilled vegetables and meats.
8. Lay pizza on grill, close lid and grill for 2 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted.
9.  Remove pizza from grill, slice and serve.
That first whiff of smoking barbecue also brings out the competitive spirit among them. Often this involves a purchase of a larger, more impressive grill. It’s also important to note the bonding that this creates.  Ordinary men previously only interacting with each other with one-syllable words now become extraordinary conversationalists with prolific explanations and epic stories of their grill.

It was once suggested to me that perhaps the element of danger was a large part of the attraction. 
Whatever the reasons, women everywhere love the results. 

It’s equally valuable to notice what’s important to your customers. Different seasons bring different priorities, and the more you understand your clientele, the more you can cater to their desires.

Typically the summer season is slower for pizzerias, or at least it is for us. We rarely build sales in the summer, but we do maintain them. Many of our clientele head out to their cottages every weekend, and several take off on a much-anticipated two-week holiday following the end of the school year.  

However, what they all have in common is the grill. Everyone loves to grill in the summer months.  And typically all households will host the traditional backyard party. Whether it’s just family or friends and neighbours, just about everyone I know will host at least one backyard barbecue party this summer.

Burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak, fish, vegetables – it’s all there.

Pizza is rarely found on the grilled menu. Well, how about suggesting an easy to make appetizer – a pizza.
  Grilled pizzas are very tasty, when done well. Most pizzerias aren’t set up with the right equipment to grill them in-house, but some newer concepts have integrated grilled pizzas with exceptional results. In fact, they are considered one of the up and coming trends in the industry.

There are two ways to offer grilled pizzas on your menu. The first is with a grilled pizza shell, then sauced, topped and baked in a deck oven.

The other way is to grill the pizza a second time until the cheese melts (see sidebar How To Grill Pizza).
Typically, grilled pizzas are appetizer-style pizzas, very lightly topped and served up for snacking.  I think they make a great addition to any backyard barbecue, not to mention are customizable to your guests’ appetites. They can put whatever is already on the grill, on the pizzas.

You might even suggest that they grill slices of pineapple, for a twist on a favourite. Add to it some barbecue chicken and onions. There’s an endless list of tastes to create. 

Keep your pizzeria top of mind this summer; offer your customers a barbecue pizza kit, with a dough ball, some cheese, sauce and some vegetables to grill along with the instructions. Show the “Kings of the Grill” how to create new items that will make their parties the talk of the town. Imagine the grilled pizza stories that will circulate their way around office coolers and other backyard barbecue parties this summer.

You can already hear the follow up question “where did you learn to grill pizza?”•

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