Kiosk in the Kitchen, in Pursuit of Perfect Pizza


The best ingredients, combined creatively with a sense of tasteful restraint. It’s an approach that works well, whether you’re building a better website, or handmaking pizza, as we discovered at Kitchen on Fire, a cooking school in Berkeley’s famed “gourmet ghetto”.

For our latest quarterly staff social we became students of Kitchen on Fire’s outspoken and energetic Chef Olive. He had plenty to say about the importance of picking the very best ingredients, from high-quality flour to in-season tomatoes and carefully selected toppings. We were also instructed to get the most out of them by giving them room to shine when cooked at high temperatures. If you can’t see your dough through your thin layer of sauce, it probably isn’t thin enough. Too many toppings piled on top increases the chance of steam, which is the enemy of good pizza.


Armed with these and other pizza-baker best practices, we split into teams and set out to create pizza with everything from wafer thin potato slices to Niman Ranch bacon, market-fresh cherry tomatoes and more. We even enjoyed dessert pizza packed with peaches, strawberries and herbs.

With a few pointers from Chef Olive (a light drizzle of beet-salad vinaigrette adds an acidic counter note to a generous garnish of fresh arugula), we put our best-dressed plates forward for inspection. The winner came via our EVP Mark Nelson, who presented a plate with a designer’s eye for white space. Beyond presentation, we were assured that with the right ingredients in the right proportions, everything was going to taste good. Having consumed plenty of pizza, we can confirm that that was indeed the case.