The renowned restaurant chain Pizza Express offered us an insight into their doughy world with a new Pizza Making Workshop.
The experience was a mixture of team effort, and single minded determination to get the ‘best tosser’ award (daringly throwing dough around to stretch it into a circle.)
As we filtered though into the workshop we saw tables laid with some rustic looking ingredients, a dramatic splash of flour, a single ball of dough, tomato sauce, sausage, herbs and cheese. In fact, this is all you need to make a tasty, spicy calzone…
A demo from the head chef at the South King Street restaurant showed us how to create a perfect circular pizza base. While maintaining eye contact with the audience he tossed the dough, then deftly added the ingredients and folded to form a nice half moon. The Pizza Express calzone should always sport a neat twist around the edge, just so you know.
Above: Everybody (trying to) do the twist!
Usually the kitchen would expect a calzone in 1 and a half minutes, we got a generous 4 and a half on the clock. Cue flour everywhere and frantic patting down in the final seconds. The resulting calzones were all pretty unique in shape, but once baked they all smelled beautiful- even the rectangular one.
Above: The best and worst calzones are announced
Next up was our opportunity to bake a personal perfect pizza, which was going to be our evening meal in the more relaxed restaurant setting. Our order number was written on our special Pizza Express Chef hats for the purpose of labelling the pizzas, and looking the part when baking.
The chefs make it look easy, but this is definitely not the case- I left with a new appreciation for the art of pizza making, the stretchy dough is hard to work with, keeps shrinking back against your will, breaks just when it is nearing the right size, and generally avoids becoming that classic, circular crispy base. Luckily, most of the chefs had been pizza making for years, the head chef at the King St restaurant has been pizza making since he was 11.
Things got easier once it came to toppings, creating nice displays of reds, greens, and dotted with black olives, which were twice as appealing once baked. Many of the final results are now on instagram!
As an evening out the Pizza Making Workshop is ideal for those who pride themselves on culinary skill, but everyone comes away with a sense of achievement. Although none of the pizza varieties created that night will be appearing on the Pizza Express menu soon, no-one sent their own pizza back, and chatting to guests later, some had definitely caught the pizza making bug.
These packages are available across all 465 UK restaurants.