Pizza blogger can’t be topped!

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  • (A slice of the action: Felicia Braude Steffen and chef Eddie Soriano (Photograph by Akil Simmons))
  • Felicia Braude Steffen (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Felicia Braude Steffen (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • The big cheese: a chef stretches mozzarella with a wooden spoon at the Handmade Mozzarella Expo

    The big cheese: a chef stretches mozzarella with a wooden spoon at the Handmade Mozzarella Expo

  • Food lover: Jon Steffen on the Pizza Chi Tour

    Food lover: Jon Steffen on the Pizza Chi Tour

  • Tasty treat: a visit to Pizza Suprema in New York 2014

    Tasty treat: a visit to Pizza Suprema in New York 2014

  • Dinner party: at Dante’s during the Pizza Walk Chicago April 2015

    Dinner party: at Dante’s during the Pizza Walk Chicago April 2015

  • Doughing her work: at the Pizza Expo, Las Vegas

    Doughing her work: at the Pizza Expo, Las Vegas

  • Bread head: dough balls with 500g of bread flour

    Bread head: dough balls with 500g of bread flour

  • Top that: margarita pizza with fresh basil from Felicia Braude Steffen’s home oven

    Top that: margarita pizza with fresh basil from Felicia Braude Steffen’s home oven


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.

www.pizzaloverchicago.com

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Published Jan 6, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 6, 2017 at 12:53 am)

Pizza blogger can’t be topped!

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