The mind of a chef differs from the mind of one who merely dines. A diner can appreciate good taste when they encounter it. So can a chef, but intriguing flavours also instigate the gears of a chef’s mind to begin whirring. They wonder: how can I replicate this delicious meal in the kitchen? My mother, who has been cooking for my family since I was a baby, is such a person. She has recently become interested in making her own bread, and even tried her hand at making pizzas. So when I received an invitation to join a pizza-making party to learn how to make pizza from the fine chefs at Jamie’s Italian, I knew who my plus one should be.
When we arrived, the bar at Jamie’s Italian presented each of us with a glass of chilled prosecco in our hands as a pre-party drink. A sparkling Italian white wine resembling champagne (which is from France), the prosecco was sweet and fizzy, and it lifted our spirits in preparation for the pizza-making session.
A wide array of pizza toppings: cheeses such as mozzarella and parmigiana reggiano, different cold cuts, herbs, mushrooms, chilies, anchovies, olives, minced meats, tomatoes…
Once everyone was present, we were led to the back of the restaurant where the party would begin. Our equipment and aprons were laid out neatly on a long metal table with a complimentary teal Jamie’s Italian baseball cap on top of each apron, waiting to be donned. At the far end of the table was a lavish selection of leafy vegetables, cheeses, and meats, our choice of toppings for the pizza we were about to make.
The instructor manipulates the pizza dough
The session began with our chef instructor showing us how to manipulate the pizza dough into the right shape. With some kneading and spinning, the sourdough was made round and flat before it was placed in a generously floured pan. The next step was to spread tomato puree evenly and thinly with a spoon, followed by placing our selected toppings in an orderly pattern on top of the dough.
All participants get to pick out their favourite toppings!
My mother spins the dough as the chef marvels at her skill
After the quick tutorial, we began cracking on our pizzas, scurrying to the toppings table to select our ingredients, then trying our best to emulate the chef’s pizza. My mother proved to be fastest at getting the dough to the right shape, impressing the chefs who were guiding us throughout the process.
Spreading the tomato puree across the dough
The party was boisterous, joyful, and gregarious; we compared everyone’s unique approach to their own pizzas and admired those which were made with beauty and grace. One of the other attendees had brought her little kid, who tried his own hand at making a pizza and endeared himself to the other attendees. The chefs and other staff continued to circle the table, helpfully offering advice and guidance.
Everyone is focused on preparing their pizzas
When a person completes the arrangement of toppings on their pizza, the staff would whisk the pizza to the oven in the kitchen. As we waited for our pizzas to bake, the chef showed us how he would plate the pizza. He first cut the pizza into 4 triangular pieces with a pizza slicer, then placed them in a neat row on a wooden serving board. Additional toppings such as parmesan cheese and salad leaves were laid on as garnishing.
Proud of her freshly baked creation.
Our pizzas emerged fresh out of the oven in ten to twenty minutes. If prepared correctly, the sourdough pizza would be crisp on the edges but soft on the inside, the crusts rising appreciably but the main base remaining thin as a biscuit.
We got to eat our own pizzas, of course, and they were as delicious as we imagined they would be, due to the expert guidance and the fresh ingredients provided by Jamie’s Italian. The chefs went around sampling the different pizzas , so that they could come to a verdict as to who had made the best pizza of all. I felt that my mother’s pizza deserved to win, but of course I’m biased, and the chefs thought differently. The prize – one of Jamie Oliver’s own cookbooks! – was awarded to another attendee, whose pizza did look quite marvellous as well.
My mother and I had some great mother-and-son bonding time!
Even though we didn’t win the cookbook, my mother and I gained something else invaluable that day – a new appreciation of how the best ingredients make the best pizzas, and also some mother-and-son bonding time. This pizza-making party was a really good opportunity for a fun social activity, and I could see it being used as a venue for a birthday party for kids or adults, a small company cohesion, or a bachelorette party. It’s not often that this writer gets to make the food he eats, and I have to say that it was really, really fun.
Thank you Jamie’s Italian for the invitation!
Pizza and Prosecco Parties are available on Monday to Thursday for group bookings from 6 to 20 people, at $48++ per person (comes with 2 glasses of prosecco) or $68++ per person (for free flow of prosecco).
Lunch and dinner menus and $10 standard drinks (housepour spirits, wines and prosecco) are available at an additional cost.
This invitation did not include a preview of the Kid’s Version of this party: in addition to designing their own pizzas, the children will also be taken on a restaurant herb garden tour and an introduction to pasta shapes. This session ends with a lunch of one kid’s meal from the kid’s ala carte menu and fruity water. These interactive sessions are available for bookings for a minimum of 8 kids and are priced at $45++ per child.
For bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org.