Compete to win QMP gift certificates at this upcoming U-Feast event – but save room for a full-on Italian spread
PIZZA LIBS PIZZA-MAKING COMPETITION at Queen Margherita Pizza (772 Dundas W) as part of U-Feast. November 9, 2016. Tickets: $45, available here.
Channel your inner pizzaiolo with Queen Margherita Pizza (QMP) when the Dundas West location plays host to the ultimate pizza party with U-Feast on November 9. Compete to create the tastiest slice by playing Pizza Libs: a delicious twist on Mad Libs, the beloved fill-in-the-blanks game.
Head chef David Jimenez-Sanchez will taste all creations, designed to pair perfectly with Creemore’s premium lager (and certified cicerrone Justin Lamontagne will be on hand for a guided beer tasting, too). The best ‘za’s creator will earn QMP gift certificates and best of all, loads of bragging rights!
The fun and feasting continues as participants indulge in Neapolitan favourites such as the classic Margherita (see above) that uses zippy sauce made from San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes, fresh Fior di Latte and torn basil, or dive into the Dominator, with homemade fennel sausage, fried rapini, smoked mozzarella and a drizzle of fried chili oil for those who love the heat.
Not only are there slices galore to gobble down, but you’ll get a tasting tour of Italian delights like calamari bathed in marinara sauce, finished with herbaceous gremolata. Appetizing arancini will undoubtedly offer umami heaven – the rice balls are stuffed with an ample amount of woodland mushrooms, parmigiano and caramelized onions.
In preparation for the event, I spoke with judge and Chef David about his passion for pizza, his humble roots, and his hidden talents as a soccer star.
Tell me about yourself and your culinary background.
I was 18 when I attended an International Culinary School in Mexico. In 2013, I moved to Canada to study English. Soon, I got a job with QMP and worked in the dish pit because my English wasn’t very strong. After two months, I made improvements and began working in the kitchen. Within the next month, I was promoted to pizza Head Chef.
Why do you love pizza – in particular, the Neapolitan style?
I feel that it’s a really technical and challenging pizza to make. You need to be mindful of ingredient ratios. It’s a precise, scratch-made process. Also, the wood burning oven that we use to cook all pizzas adds so much flavour. The oven is blazingly hot: 900F! The pizza is cooked in 90 seconds flat. And lastly, it is also much more fun to work with our oven (made in Naples) than regular gas ovens many other places use to cook pizza dough with.
How much did you know about Italian food and pizza making?
The basics and classics were taught to us in culinary school. But before QMP, I didn’t know how to make Neapolitan pizza… only the regular versions of pizza. The executive chef of all QMP locations, Chef Matt Rzeszutek, acted as my mentor and showed me the ropes of pizza-making and more about Italian food. From there, I practised on crafting menu items and improving my skill sets.
Part of the U-Feast event is hands-on: the event asks people to make their own pizza. What advice would you offer people who are novice cooks and pizza makers who may be nervous to participate?
Well, I will be there to guide all participants, but my advice is to not overthink anything. Just enjoy the process and have fun… then ready your appetite to enjoy Toronto’s best pizza!
Of all the U-Feast menu items, which one are you most excited for guests to try?
I’m excited for our guests to try our grilled kale salad. It’s healthy and has a lot of great flavours and textures going for it: the creamy whipped ricotta, fried chilis for kick, the toasted pine nuts, a showering of parmigiano… but most of all, it’s the grilling of the kale itself that adds depth of flavour and char – which I think makes it taste uniquely different.
Where are the ingredients sourced from?
Ingredients mostly come from Italy and Canada. For example, our Fior di Latte comes from a Canadian company called Dolce Lucano. Rita is another great company we source products from.
As for our suppliers from Italy, we use Alta Cappuccino for our San Marzano tomatoes, and Caputo Tipo 00 flour, which is essential for making our pizza crust have the perfect texture and taste.
The theme is Pizza Libs for this U-Feast event. If you were to fill in the Pizza Lib blanks, what would be your topping choices be?
It would definitely be a white pizza, with fruit olive oil, sopressata, green olives, red onions, asiago cheese and mozzarella.
Do you have any hidden talents to share?
I used to play soccer in Mexico pretty seriously for a few years. I was 3rd division in my hometown of Toluca.
Aside from your restaurant, what’s your favourite place to dine in Toronto? What dish would you order?
Yes, it would have to be Bar Isabel right now. I would order the grilled octopus. It has a fantastic meaty texture, charred edges.
What is your culinary dream destination and why?
Without a doubt, it would have to be Spain. I’ve actually travelled there before, when I was a culinary student I worked in a restaurant called Mandarena in the summer for about four months. My dream would be to return to Spain to open up my own restaurant there.
Don’t miss: Toronto’s best pizza.
email@example.com | @LeighTiffany