My day as an American pizza chef

I go over to Toytown Germany from time to time to check out what’s happening with English-speaking expats living in Germany. I click on View latest posts about a week or so ago and right near the top I see one from a TV producer down in Munich looking for someone to go on her show to bake a deep-dish / American-style pizza. I would be a contest: a three-way bake-off pitting Italian, German and American pizza against each other, with a group of German high school kids doing the judging.

I’m thinking: Tough crowd – but what the hell.

The post is only minutes old. I shoot an email back at her telling her that I’ve been making American-style pizza for my family for ages, that they love it, that the dough is made from scratch using a recipe from my sister-in-law, ditto the sauce, that I don’t go overboard with the toppings, and that I’m reasonably well house-trained.

I also mention I’m comfortable under the lights, having been a TV producer, reporter and anchor for a news station in Hong Kong in the mid-nineties.

“Oh, and I’m Canadian,” I add. “I hope that doesn’t ruin my chances.”

She writes back after a bit to say no problem, they’d love to work with me, but that I’d have to leave my Vancouver Canucks sweater at home, tone down the Maple Syrup and Hockey Stick routine, and that as the designated baker of American-style pizza, I would have to represent the USA.

“You’d have to hold up the American flag for the judging,” she says. “The German will hold up the German flag, the Italian his flag – you can do that, can’t you?”

I thought about this. I thought: sure I can do it, the recipe’s drilled into my head, but …but…. I’m a Canuck! Besides, do people immediately drop everything, phone around to get colleagues to fill in for you and change other plans, just for the chance to be whisked off in a taxi to the airport right after work, flown across the country, put up in a hotel, do a day-long shoot, all expenses paid and a few bucks spending money, then fly home?

Fuckin’ rights they do. Sounds like fun. I tell her: Oh, all right. … I guess so. But can I wear a little Canadian flag on my lapel?


First in a series. The last installment will have a video of the show, which airs on March 13. That is, if I ever figure out how to convert the digital file so I can upload it to YouRube. Sometime over the next few days: the pizza prep, the shoot, the judging, the finale. Maybe even the recipe…

Β© 2008 lettershometoyou

PS: The show will air March 13 at 1910 on a show called Galileo.

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29 Responses to “My day as an American pizza chef”

  1. March 5, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    It sounds like loads of fun. I just did something similar for Test the Nation in January…But…Holding up an American flag? Pawning yourself off as an American…I would have had a hard time with that, maple leaf on lapel or not…

  2. 2 Jul
    March 5, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    That sounds like so much fun! I’ll have to remember to watch Galileo that day.

  3. 3 cartooncat
    March 5, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Wow! That sounds absolutely brilliant! What fun!

    What toppings are you planning?

  4. March 5, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Can’t wait to see that footage. Sounds like a hoot.

    I came over from Canada to work in Germany because of an ingrained prejudice against any cultural, political, environmental influences from the States. What a culture shock to be told I speak American, and constantly mistaken for being an American… and so I just got over it and started eating peanut butter for the first time in my life. I then met and befriended an American woman whose husband was an officer at the nearby US Army base. So, having come all the way over to Europe to avoid the US, I became an American sympathizer, and have never looked back since. I’d wave the flag, if need be. I don’t care any more what anyone thinks “I am”. When tourists ask me for directions in English and I answer politely back, they often compliment me on my good English; I humbly thank them for the compliment and leave them with the illusion that all Germans speak so well.

  5. March 5, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    cartooncat – all will be revealed in posts to come!πŸ™‚

    W. Coyote: the idea took a little bit getting used to, I have to admit…

    lilalia – I’m looking forward to see how they’ve put it all together as well. They were a great team to work with during the shoot, so I bet the result will be good.

    Jul – they said that it was 95% certain that March 13, Pro7 at 1910 would be the broadcast time, but that *sometimes* they push it back a day or so.

  6. March 5, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    ian, what’s the name of the programme?

    You do realise that I’m going to use this as my claim to fame when Moobs (don’t know the link but he’s on my side bar) does his tenuous connections competition next year.

  7. March 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Hi heidi – forgot to mention that! just added it in an edit on the bottom of the post:
    Galileo, Pro7, March 13 at 1910.

    Thanks for the tip about Moobs: http://moobz.com/

  8. March 5, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I’ll look forward to the video. You DID mean to say YouRube? Hahaha

  9. March 5, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    So I gather back bacon was out of the question?

  10. March 5, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Nope, no back bacon.

    and muse – yes, I meant that…

  11. 11 bylandl
    March 6, 2008 at 1:02 am

    There’s a German style of pizza? Shows how much I know. Comments about my being a culturally ignorant American can go here, I guess. I need to get out (of the country) more.

    Best of luck!

  12. 12 thebeadden
    March 6, 2008 at 2:40 am

    That’s great! I can’t wait to see it. Way to go.

  13. March 6, 2008 at 7:35 am

    sounds like a lot of fun Ian!

  14. March 6, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Only here will I read about a Canuck impersonating an American pizza chef. I love it.
    Hopefully it wasn’t all that bad.

  15. March 6, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Well, I don’t see why a Canadian pizza chef can’t be recognised as making ‘American Style Pizza’. Does holding up the American flag for judging have to say you are American or just that the pizza is?

    I wouldn’t go public pretending to be American (USian) myself, just because I’m not. Not because I’m anti-USian, heck some of my best friends are Merkins … πŸ˜‰

    So, what toppings did you use? Enquiring minds need to know!

  16. March 6, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Being the observant type I recognize that shirt!

    This is going to be good. We watch Galileo every night after dinner anyway so we’ll be tuned in for sure. You’ll probably be swamped with offers after this and be forced to start your own cooking show.πŸ™‚

  17. March 6, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Ian Dude,
    Stuff a Canadian flag down your trousers and at the operative moment, standing under the US flag, bear it, the flag that is. Don’t let us down pal!

  18. March 6, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Beav, bud: it’s did and done – every last piece down the throats of ravenous 17-year-olds. All that remains is for the producers to cut it all down into a 15-minute segment. I have yet to write about the day itself, though that’s coming up. Air time is this coming Thursday.

    Christina – I think it will be a pretty good promo for the German guy, who is a pro, as was the Italian. Me? I’m sticking to my day job unless Jamie Oliver is looking for a replacement.

    Oh and yeah – that’s my favourite shirt.πŸ™‚

    Az: toppings and other revelations coming up…

  19. 19 alwaysthatgirl
    March 7, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Ian! There IS a pizza series! I’m so excited. I’m not sure I would have taken the gig having to leave your Canucks Jersey and Hockey Stick at home.πŸ™‚ I loved Beavers idea, that would have brought a whole new meaning to the comment you left on my site. Haha.

  20. 20 Rita
    March 7, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    What! You’ll be holding up and American flag. Shame, shame!
    Can’t it be American in the sense of North American.

  21. March 7, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Ach, Rita – it was all in good fun.πŸ™‚
    Though I did have to wave the flag a couple of times, I didn’t have to do much else besides make sure the pizza came out OK. That kept me busy enough.

  22. March 8, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    whee! i’ll be watching galileo that day!

  23. March 9, 2008 at 7:56 am

    You and me, and a few others – they told me the ratings always shoot up when there’s something about food on…

  24. March 31, 2008 at 2:43 am

    OMG, I missed all this while I was on vacation…TRAITOR!

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