A new state-of-the-art culinary facility, the North American Pizza & Culinary Academy (NAPCA), 1970 University Lane, Lisle, is now open and offering culinary classes to students of all skill levels, including a five-day pizza program that will allow students the opportunity to earn the designation of Certified Pizzaiolo. As part of Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, the oldest and most prestigious pizza school in the world, located in Venice, Italy, NAPCA is one of two certified schools in the United States to offer this accreditation. Although pizza is the primary focus of the school, a wide variety of other culinary classes are offered at the Academy as well, covering everything from basic knife skills to artisanal baking to specific culinary and cuisinespecific explorations. Pizza classes are led by a Master Instructor and culinary classes are led by a variety of dynamic professional chefs versed in all cuisines.
NAPCA is owned and operated by Founder/Master Istruttore Leo Spizzirri and Founder/Chef Instructor Anthony Iannone. Chicago native Spizzirri has spent his lifetime in pizza, supporting the commercial pizza and baking industries with his expertise in dough and high speed manufacturing. Working with major brands across the United States, this artisan pizza and bread maker was first certified as a pizzaiolo at the International School of Pizza in San Francisco, before completing his studies at Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, where he received his Master Istruttore Certification.
There are less than 100 people with Master certification in the world. Iannone grew up in his family’s restaurant in New York before graduating from Johnson and Wales. He went on to become head chef of Bice, working across the country, before moving to Perth, Australia and Mexico City, Mexico for high-profile restaurant projects.
Relocating to Chicago to open a Boar’s Head distribution hub, he also began teaching classes at Casey’s Butcher Shop in Naperville, Il and Famous Liquors in Lombard, Il. Iannone knows the restaurant industry inside and out and provides the expertise that operators everywhere will seek out in NAPCA’s classroom curriculum.
Rounding out the team is Chef Instructor Renee Gabbett, who grew up in her family’s Italian pizza pub in the western suburbs of Chicago before attending the culinary school at the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, and working as a private chef. She was also Sur La Table Naperville’s resident chef for six years while also teaching at Goose Island’s educational program, Flavour Cooking School in Forest Park, Il and Nourished Cooking School in Hinsdale, Il.
The NAPCA facility, designed by architect George Evangelopoulos of GEA Architects, Ltd., has several distinct areas including The Show Kitchen, a 50-seat theater-style demo kitchen designed by Taylor Rizzo of Taylor Helene Interiors, features state-of-the-art cooking equipment by BlueStar, a 75” video screen and full audio capabilities; The Dough Room, a temperature-controlled space with several industry-level mixers (including a refurbished 1960s Hobart) that can replicate pizza environments from all over the world; and The Oven Room, a one-of-a-kind showroom of the top pizza oven lines in the world including Marana and Forno
Bravo, allowing students to cook or test any style of pizza possible. A retail area is also on-site, where pizza and cooking-related specialty items from classes will ben available for purchase. The NAPCA facility is also available to host hands-on and demonstration classes for private events of all kinds, including corporate, team building and client appreciation parties.
NAPCA offers three different pizza classes, led by a Master Instructor:
- The One-Day Pizza Immersion Class ($750) is focused on a specific pizza style. Participants will gain a basic understanding of dough process, pizza creation and baking for that style of pizza using traditional equipment.
- The Three-Day Pizza Immersion Course ($2,250) provides an inside look at specific doughs. At the end of this course, participants will have a thorough knowledge of the dough process, pizza creation and baking using traditional equipment.
- The Five-Day Pizzaiolo Certification Course ($2,900) is taught to the guidelines and curriculum of the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli and offers students the opportunity to earn the designation of Certified Pizzaiolo. Receiving theory and practical hands-on learning using traditional equipment, all candidates for this professional course will be pre-interviewed by phone by NAPCA.
NAPCA’s cooking school specializes in interactive education with hands-on and demonstrative classes led by dynamic professional chefs versed in all cuisines.
Recipe materials are included, and students get to taste the finished product. Four different programs are offered as part of NAPCA’s curriculum:
- Demonstration Cooking Classes ($80-$120) cover a wide variety of skills, techniques and cuisine-specific programs. These 50-person seminars allow students to watch their class leader prepare three-courses highlighting the specified topic.
- Hands-on Cooking Classes ($69-$100) are for those who prefer to get more involved in the kitchen. These smaller eight-person classes allow students to work along with the instructor, cooking through three-courses highlighting the specified topic.
- Kids & Teens Cooking Classes (classes $50-$65, camps $125-$325) are geared toward kids from age eight to 12 and teens 13 to 17. These classes provide an intro to cooking skills and are a great culinary boot camp. A variety of topics will be covered.
- Special Chef Events ($90-$140): this specialty series invites high profile recognized chefs into the school to allow students to learn from the masters themselves, featuring exciting themed and multi-coursed menus.