The owner, Frederico Santos (who goes by Fred), enthusiastically welcomed the eight-person class with an inspirational message that let us know we would be doing everything ourselves. No handholding here; Fred was throwing us straight into the flour.
“It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to get frustrated at times. But by the end of it, you’re going to look at and be proud because it’s yours.”
Armed with a hefty dose of motivation, Fred gave us an overview of the ingredients we’d be working with. Normally, this would be the part where I would lose interest, but he was so pizza-passionate that I could listen to him talk for hours about why he loved a particular brand of canned tomatoes. My English teachers just didn't share that same level of enthusiasm for comma splices.
After our lesson, we set out to make the dough for our two pizzas: classic cheese, and margarita.
I quickly learned that this kind of "chefery" (I know it’s not a word, but it should be) is not for the faint of heart. My biceps reached their point of exhaustion within five minutes of mixing the batter, and more of it ended up on my hands then in my bowl. But with a little time and a lot of Fred’s patience, the batter turned into something that started to look usable.
While we let the dough "breathe," we learned how to make the sauce. It was simple and only required a few ingredients. According to Fred, it's all about quality over quantity when it comes to pizza.
"We're not magicians," he said whilst in the middle of stirring. "We can't make something crappy be good."
And since quality dough needs to sit for a long time, Fred had some ready for us so we could finish up our pizzas. After a quick demonstration – one that did not include any dough tossing – he set up an assembly line of dough, sauce, and toppings and told us to get cracking.
While kneading out the dough into just the right pizza size was a little tough, the rest of the process went rather smoothly. Despite my previous beliefs, you don't need to drown the dough in sauce and cheese to make it good. A little really goes a long way.
One by one we put our pizzas in the oven and watched them cook. Fred inspected each one and gave the best compliment a pizza maker could give: "I'd serve it."
With a full belly and two pizzas in hand, I went home with a new understanding of Fred's work. Like most things in life, pizza doesn't have to look perfect to be good.
NEXT PIZZA CLASS
When: May 14, 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Where: Square Pizza Co., 4508 Cass St, Ste C.
Cost: $80 per person.
Dress code: Wear something comfortable, a short sleeved T-shirt will work well then be prepared to have fun and get messy. Closed-toe shoes are required.
For more information about Square Pizza's classes, visit squarepizzaco.com.