Pizza blogger can’t be topped!
(A slice of the action: Felicia Braude Steffen and chef Eddie Soriano (Photograph by Akil Simmons))
Felicia Braude Steffen was in between jobs when she called her father to chat.
His thought: she talked about pizza so much, she might as well write about it.
Her blog, Pizza Lover Chicago, is now six years old.
“Everywhere I went, I would just write about the restaurant and say, it’s great to go if you’ve had a lot to drink or you want a date night — something like that. I’m not really a food critic, I’m just a food appreciator,” Mrs Steffen said.
“I always order a plain, classic pie and then we’ll order one fun pie.
“The basics of a pizza is the crust, the sauce and the cheese, so if you have it at its most minimal make-up, then you can really say, ‘Oh, I love the sauce, you can really taste it or the cheese — it looks like they’ve got a mix of provolone and mozzarella in it.’”
She has written about more than 300 pizza experiences — 17 of those in Bermuda.
The 28-year-old moved to the island last year to be with her fiancé, Jon Steffen, after landing a job at PwC Bermuda.
When they got married in September, they had a welcoming dinner for 60 at La Trattoria. They considered it a “logical” choice.
“I talk abut pizza all the time to my friends and family, so it was great to have everybody there.
“They have phenomenal service. Even on a busy night, the staff are great and I really like their pizzas,” she said
Pizza New Delhi with chicken tikka, cilantro and yoghurt is one of her favourites.
Both she and her husband hail from Chicago — home of the deep dish.
“But, there’s more to life than the deep dish,” she said. “I really like thin crust. I could go for a tavern-style pizza crust, like a pub pizza where it’s nice and crispy. But I also really appreciate the Neapolitan where it’s very fou fou and a nice airy crust with a little bit of char.”
Every March she visits an international pizza expo in Las Vegas, an industry-only event. Mr Steffen joined her two years ago and proposed to her there.
“They have seminars, competitions and demonstrations. I go there to meet everybody and talk to them about what their pain points are — what the difficulties are in starting a new business or maintaining a business or increasing sales or cutting costs. It’s always a great experience.”
When she started blogging, her family warned that she might gain weight with all her taste tests. A personal trainer helps her maintain her figure.
The Steffens regularly host pizza parties and have near-perfected their method.
“We make the dough two days in advance. We make the sauce out of crushed tomatoes and we just have a bash. We don’t have a big kitchen, but we can still make good pizza. Anybody can do it.”
Her “regular old oven” goes up to 550 degrees; when making pizza – it’s essential that it get “as hot as possible”.
“I have a pizza stone that I got at the Chef Shop and then I brought in a piece of baking steel, so I put the pizza on the stone and then I move it down to the steel to brown the edges.”
She fell in love with pizza as a child.
“There was a pizzeria that we always got delivery from — Il Forno. I remember it vividly. That was our delivery pizza and then for many, many family birthdays we would go to this place called Barnaby’s, a total family place,” she recalled.
“You place your order at the counter and they call your number out when the pizza’s ready and you go to a separate place to get your drinks. That was very much formative for my love of pizza.”
Today, she eats pizza two to three times a week on average. She has found it to be a great ice breaker.
“If I’m not eating it, I’m probably talking about the next time that I’m gonna eat it,” she said. “Everybody loves pizza and it’s a great conversation topic. That’s the whole reason I do it. Everyone’s got a story about pizza, even the ones who hate pizza.”
So far, she’s come across three people who fall into that category.
“Some people are picky,” she laughed.
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