There’s something almost primal about pizza ads, and pictures of a fresh, nicely browned pie. That’s because there’s something very, very tasty about pizza. Bubbling cheese, deeply delicious dough, piquant spicy tomato sauce! The pizza maker throwing the dough in the air, or pounding on it in a flurry of flour and aromatic goodness.
If all of this makes you hunger for a big slice (or two), you’re not alone. Pizza is really larger-than-life in our culinary world – it’s gone beyond its past life as an alternative type of sandwich, to become something that we rank, rate and analyze thoroughly, and devour greedily.
If you know someone who loves making an elegant pizza for a crowd, or scarfing down their creations at home, here are some of the best gifts to help them build an essential toolkit for a pizza that’s always a “10.”
Pizza Peels, Stones and Trays
Some of the most sought-after pizza-making equipment involves having specialized surfaces to sit directly underneath that doughy disk as it slides into and out of the oven, as it cooks, and as it cools with diners anticipating quietly.
If you don’t know what a pizza peel is, it’s basically just a fancy word for the flat shovel that gets the pizza from one surface to another – from the countertop to the oven, and from the oven to the serving tray.
There are different options you can choose from in buying that perfect pizza peel – some prefer wood, and others prefer metal. Some chefs suggest that you should use wood for pizza input, that essential trip into the maw of the oven, and metal for eventual collection, partly because of the different temperatures involved.
Then you have pizza stones that can absorb some of the heat of the cooling pie as it lays there ready for eating, and add to your pizza presentation. These are great gifts, too.
Rollers and Dough Dockers
Yes, a lot of old-school chefs make the pizza with their hands – but a couple of hand tools wouldn’t hurt, either. Rollers get you that smooth circle of dough, and pizza dough dockers put holes in the dough, to help it to aerate and prevent excessive bubbling as it bakes.
Specialty Pizza Cutters for Every Occasion
Is one pizza cutter just like another? Not if you ask a real pizza pie aficionado!
They’ll point out that while most kitchens just have a simple small spinning-wheel cutter, choosy chefs tend to use specialized tools like a handheld cutter that can drive deeper down in the dough, to make sure you get a clean, smooth cut between slices. Then there’s the rotary cutter that acts uniquely to thoroughly sever every piece of dough specifically, as intended by the chef.
Don’t want stringy cheese and dough ends sticking together and making your slices all kinds of sloppy? These are great tools to have.
Pizza-Specific Cookers and Ovens
Most of us are familiar with the commercial – pizza oven or the wood-fired hearth that big restaurants use to turn out dozens and dozens of tasty pizza pies for a given table service.
For the home chef, things tend to look a little different. If your pizza maker doesn’t want to use his or her standard-issue oven, which is kind of understandable, pizza cookers and standalone oven models help limit your pizza baking footprint to the size of your pie, or just a bit more. Some of these are roll-ins, much like your standard toaster oven, and some are circular like a pizza, to make pizza making just a little bit more like panini making. Of course you don’t squash the top, you let those pizza toppings breathe!
Specialized Ingredient Kits
When you’re thinking about the best pizza gifts, gifts including new tastes and aromas are not to be missed.
Some people, and some vendors, call these “ pizza rescue kits,” but that implies that your original slice somehow lacked flavor or panache. We call them ingredient add-on kits because they allow your pizza chef to get more creative, and because, in our long tours in restaurant kitchens, this kind of tact leaves you less likely to get you tossed out!
Some of the simpler kits contain three ingredients – salt, peppercorns and oregano. You might have various kinds of fancy truffle salt or Himalayan salts, high-quality whole peppercorns, and various ‘herbes de Provence’ to complement your margarita pizza or specialty pie.
Vendors even sell hydroponic kits, so that you can make all of your herbs, and even your marinara tomatoes, in an indoor grow system without any soil at all.
Some of these modern systems are popular in urban gardening and pizza professions…
Pans and Dishes
Many of us remember the commercial pan pizza of the 1980s. Then, too, if you live in Chicago, you’ve never not been familiar with the deep dish pizza (if you’ll excuse the tortured double negative) – it’s a staple out there.
Either way, having a deep pizza pan or dish allows you to make this thicker pie with all of its hearty and delicious qualities.
That’s it – our survey of compelling gifts for the pizza-maker in your life. At Chefs’ Toys, we have seen the pizza-making process up close, from the wood-fired oven to big dough mixers and commercial conveyor ovens. We are “for chefs, by chefs,” and our people have real kitchen experience that informs our commitment to offering our customers the best tools of the trade. Let us help you to equip your kitchen for success.