Goodfella’s of Staten Island has launched a brick oven pizza school.
The school will teach everything from the basics (how to make dough) to more advanced details such as how to manage inventory.
The pizzeria is getting a lot of calls, according to Scot Cosentino, founder of the school, from as far afield as Argentina.
“The majority is people who want to break into the business and don’t know who to turn to. But we’re also getting calls from operators who already make pizza and want to make gourmet pizza,” he explains.
The school runs classes every week, with up to two people per class. Training takes place at the restaurant, a 20-year location that’s become known for its gourmet pizzas such as its vodka pie.
The basic, 50-hour course takes place in one week and teaches the fundamentals, explains Cosentino. It looks at the basics of pizza ingredients (which cheeses to use and how to pair them; different types of olive oil); kitchen tools; and how to use a brick oven pizza.
The 100-hour Master Operations class incorporates the basic class then goes onto advanced information. It looks at food costs, portion control, waste prevention, inventory, specialty pizzas, opening and closing procedures, restaurant design, how to buy an oven; and cleaning procedures, among other things.
There’s a need for a school like this, Cosentino adds, because people make too many mistakes with pizza.
“People don’t understand how to pick ingredients and often don’t even understand dough—which flour or flours to use; or even how to use a brick oven pizza. It’s all about ingredients and techniques. People often try to make a gourmet pizza with low cost ingredients, or they have too many ingredients.”
Students will use Goodfella’s office for theory work but will spend much of their class time with a trainer in the restaurant itself, making pizzas to be served to real patrons.
“It’s all about the hands-on experience,” Cosentino points out. “It’s one thing to give someone a recipe but a student needs a lot of experience to build his confidence. You need to make hundreds of pizzas. To become a professional it’s a matter of practicing. In 50 hours, though, you’ll understand all the basics.”
Coming soon, Goodfella’s will offer classes in other Italian dishes such as pasta, and will start offering training manuals for various areas of restaurant operations. The restaurant already has a consulting business, too, advising on everything from menu design to restaurant layout.
“We can basically teach everything,” says Cosentino. “It will be done in different packages depending on how much people need. You can’t really skimp on training. It’s so important to do it right from the start because the investment into a new restaurant is tremendous. You can blow your whole investment at one shot.”