Updated: May 22
Today we are in the company of Luigi, a young Pizza Chef who, from the tradition of Neapolitan Pizza, has plunged into the world of food business and above all the pizza of the future. We met Luigi to enjoy one of his renowned pizzas in the Haberfield district in Sydney, his simplicity and sympathy cheered us up greatly. The delicious dinner consisted of light and tasty pizzas, and we were so sad to hear know he will be leaving Sydney for an indeterminate period. Luigi plans to travel to Europe to broaden his vision of food and have new experiences to incorporate into the gears of his profession. At this point it seemed only right to satisfy our curiosity and get to know him better...
Hi Luigi, thank you for the amazing dinner you gave us tonight, do you mind if we ask you something about yourself to share your experience with our readers?
Do you mean an interview? Honestly, I'm more confident with the oven that always proves me right, but let's try (we told you he's a funny guy)
Full Name ?
Italian, even if I should say Napoletano (smiling)
How do you define yourself as a person?
I would define myself as a clear person, I tend to be as clear as possible with people to avoid any misunderstanding. I definitely have two personalities, I can be pretty silly in a group of people, I enjoy making jokes and I’m not shy of doing almost anything. On the other side of my personality I can also be very serious when I need to. some people would define me as a funny person, others would say I am very wise and I always have my feet on the ground.
How do you define yourself as a professional?
I definitely am a passionate pizza chef, to me pizza is a serious thing and especially when it comes to making the dough every step has to be made in a specific way depending on the result I’m searching for. I don’t muck around when I make the dough and I am very precise, I prefer not to do anything else in that moment to not rush myself and be sure I’m doing a great job. I absolutely enjoy working in a team, I am a good follower and also a great leader. I never abandon my coworkers at work and I enjoy being part of a team.
So... do you have a sense of humor?
Let me say that in my perspective, life would be boring without a sense of humor! So absolutely.
What is a chef for you?
A chef for me is someone who is trained to understand flavors, cooking techniques, create recipes from scratch with fresh ingredients, and have a high level of responsibility within a kitchen. A chef for me is also an individual capable of leading a team, with great communication skills and who understands the weaknesses and the strengths of his team. A chef is someone who can manage food costs, who can give a customer consistency and make sure every ingredient is always as fresh as possible!
Summarize your career in a few words
I started in my city, Napoli. I never actually worked as a pizza chef in my city because I never liked the way pizza chefs work there, at least the majority of time.
I volunteered to work casually in a few restaurants because I wanted to learn the job, but I was not doing much. In the meantime, I had spent all of my money on a training course. This allowed me to understand a lot more about the theoretical and practical part of the job.
Thanks to the course and volunteering in some restaurants I finally gained a bit of experience with stretching and cooking different type of pizzas. I also received an offer to work in a pizza section but again, I never wanted to work full time. Then I decided to work as a pizza chef only on the weekends as I had another job during the week. After a year or so I moved to Australia and finally started working full time as a pizza chef where I also found some places that let me express what I learnt back in Napoli.
From your answer I understand that you like to have time for yourself outside of work, but we know how life as a chef is about sacrificing your time. How do you reconcile private / family life with such a demanding job?
This is a curious question, I would say in some places it is more difficult than others to reconcile your private life with this job. Therefore depending on where you live and where you work you can manage your lifestyle. For example, in Napoli I only found places where it was impossible for me to reconcile my private life with the job, as a matter of fact I was willing to change job even though it was becoming my passion. From what I've experienced, the only way to manage it all is to be clear with your needs with the owner of the restaurant and work there only if they match with the needs of that restaurant.
What do you eat when you go out to dinner?
I define myself as a good eater, I like to explore and try different cuisines. Although I have to admit, I tend to have Italian food. When it comes to pizzas, it is pretty hard to please me since it is my job. Which means I see any flaw in the pizza even when I make it myself.
In general, I appreciate many cuisines.
What is the most exciting aspect of your job?
What I like the most is pleasing a customer, seeing a happy customer eating my pizza it is my satisfaction. It is my absolute pleasure making them come back for my pizza.
Tell us about one of your bizarre habits at work
I’m afraid I don’t have a particular bizarre habit at work. I’m generally serious when I do my job. What’s a bit bizarre, I would say that I go mad when I make a dough and someone who is not a pizzaiolo touches it only for the fun of it!
If a charming person of the opposite sex asks you to prepare something of your choice, how do you behave?
I behave the exact same way as if anyone else asks me to make something of my choice, I do it more carefully than usual, does it make me a sinner? (smiling mischievously )
Tell me about a difficult situation and how did you handle it?
Well… luckily I have always worked in pretty organised environment, but I can tell you about a very difficult situation where I couldn't do much to fix it.
Long story short, it was a Friday night and we were roughly 30 minutes away from the opening time, before opening for the customers I always used to make a pizza for the chef, so that night as usual I took the dough out of the fridge and I made a pizza for him, what happened though, while I was stretching I could feel something was wrong with the pizza ball, indeed when I cooked it all of my doubts came true… the dough did not rise, the day before I had forgotten to put the yeast into the dough. The pizza was a disaster! It was unmanageable and we could not sell that. I told my boss I was going to make another dough using a quick method so I could get away with it for that day. Except we were going to be open in 30 minutes time and making such a quick dough was not going to be the same. Pizza, especially in terms of maturation of the dough, cannot be rushed, the boss and I knew that. He always wanted to be consistent of the product he was selling, which was completely fair, so that day, he decided to close the restaurant and I felt horrible, how did I handle it? As I previous mentioned I could not do much about it, I only gave my boss some money to sort of say sorry that he had to close the restaurant because of my mistake. I did not do much, but that was all I could do, besides, we’re all human and we should never be ashamed of our mistakes.
How do you decide which recipe to use?
This is very simple, I ask myself what product I want to make and I choose the right recipe for that product. Although I mainly like to work with medium/high hydration dough, so that’s what I mostly make.
Your roots and your homeland, how much do they influence your work?
I was born and raised in Napoli, my city is known the most for pizza. I have to admit that sometimes people think that only because I come from Napoli I am a good pizza chef, which to me does not work like that. I know people who come from other cities and know even more about pizzas than me. That’s because where you come from does not define who you are, it never did, what defines you is what you hear, what you study and what you do.
Which product do you like to cook the most?
Oh that’s a bit tricky, but I would say I like to cook pizza in the most traditional Neapolitan style, it cooks fast and it is fun to operate a high heat oven.
How do you select ingredients and equipment?
To me it all depends on what product you’re searching for and what system you want to have in the restaurant. For instance, do you want everything to be made in house? Do you want to be a traditional restaurant or you want to sell particular things? You may need certain equipment to make a certain product.
When it comes to ingredients I tend to buy seasonal product, I also like to use local ingredients because I know where they come from and they’re supposed to be fresher since they aren't far from where they are grown. This means that the food is processed as few times as possible. You also want to look at the food cost and what clients you want to attract, obviously the fresher the product the more expensive it will be.
Your advice for beginners
Trust your journey, don’t be afraid of doing wrong things, make plenty of mistakes and learn from them. put yourself in tough situation and keep trying. You cannot win if you don’t lose first.
How do you see the Australian market?
In general, pretty average. I’m afraid Australia does not have much of a culture when it comes to hospitality.
What do you think about social media like Youtube, Facebook etc. in regards to food?
It is a great tool to communicate to people and express yourself, you may learn few things from social media as well, however, be careful of what you learn there since it may be false. Not everyone is an expert on food, but everyone can make content on social media about it.
What is your secret dream?
Being able to help as many people as possible, work related and life in general.
Say something to our readers.
If you’ve read till here and my talking caught your attention I am super glad and I hope I positively impact you.
Luigi, Would you like to share your dough recipe with our readers? Maybe a pizza to make at home while we think of you and send you our thanks and best wishes
Do you have a pen?
Luigi Carole Recipe:
Ingredients (for 1kg)
1000g flour w280
650mL cold water
1.5g fresh yeast
40mL extra virgin olive oil
Mix all the flour and yeast in a bowl, start pouring the water slowly till you reached 550ml, at this point you should be able to start kneading on a bench, pour 50mL of water slowly, add the salt and finish it with the rest of the water slowly poured. Let it rest for 10 minutes and now pour the oil in. The dough should be pretty smooth now, cover and let it rest for 10 more minutes, give it some light folds on itself and now should be even smoother. Put the dough in a bowl with a bit of oil underneath and a very little of oil on the top of the dough as well, let it rest 1 hour at room temperature then leave it in the fridge for 16 to 20 hours. Take the dough out and make the balls at your desired weight, if you use a tray from a classic house oven you need 600 to 700 g of dough maximum. Give it the shape desired by slightly folding it again.
Put your dough on the tray with a thin layer of oil, cover it with the cling wrap and let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes, in the meantime prepare your oven at 250 degrees on the static mode. put your favourite toppings on the pizza and bake it for 10 to 15min maximum, enjoy your pizza!
Extra tips : put the tray on the middle of the oven, and check if the bottom of your pizza is cooking evenly with top, if the bottom of your pizza is not cooking as well as the top, put the tray at the very bottom and feel free to put another tray on the middle of the oven to protect a little the top of your pizza.
Put the cheese when your pizza is 5 minutes away from being ready to avoid burning it.