Pizza and beer are my two biggest yeast affections and there's no better way to scratch that itch than at next week's Good Beer at BAM tasting to benefit Just Food and Added Value. Among the dozen breweries and restaurants represented are Gramercy Tavern, Porchetta, Sullivan Street Bakery and Company where I recently infiltrated the kitchen of master baker Jim Lahey, (shown left, pushing me out of his kitchen shortly afterward.) Later he agreed to talk to me about his needless bread, David Chang's slice joint, Satan's influence, Frank Bruni's foresight and his affinity for Family Guy.
Ko has long been an impossible reservation, now you're packing it up in a truck and bringing it to Brooklyn. Do you think going on the road will make pairing beer with pizza a trend?
I don’t want this to be confused with David Chang’s pizza joint, I’ve heard it’s fantastic. Yes, beer and pizza will become a popular trend – I cant wait to see what happens after the Good Beer at BAM event.
If it does, Co. will be "hopping" like your last spot, Sullivan Street Bakery. It left its namesake street for a move to Hell's Kitchen and things couldn't be better. What role do you think the Devil played in that?
I can assure you the Devil had nothing to do with my bread baking abilities. I am not the James Brown of bread.
I didn't even know James Brown baked! So you didn't feel betrayed when the Devil couldn't procure Company a better review from the Times?
I don’t feel betrayed in any way, shape or form by the laudatory review written by Bruni – I feel like it was ground breaking [sick] in that it was the first time in the history of the New York Times, or at least for as long as I can remember, that a pizza joint ever got reviewed as a restaurant.
Perhaps great pizza can be a gateway food for a higher standard of bread. Being that at the end of the day it’s just flatbread.
You're too humble. Do you ever think you're too good at what you do?
No, I don’t feel that I am that good at all.
Me neither! I recently read one critic advocating making their own pizzas at home because "waiting on line for the latest cult favorite pie" can be too intimidating. Is that what led you to open your own pizzeria?
Nobody is afraid of pizza and besides - I was always pie-curious. When we opened Co. we didn’t know, we didn’t prepare and we didn’t expect the overwhelming and supportive response.
Me too, once, in college. Meanwhile you're intimidating in your own right, a lot of people call you a breadmaking Monk. Where do you think those comparisons to Tony Shalhoub started?
Um, I like Family Guy, I feel more like Brian.
Well you may not be a detective but you made me feel like one, thanks so much for "cluing" me in!
Good Beer at BAM is next Wednesday, July 29th. Sullivan St. Bakery is located at 533 West 47th Street, Company at 230 9th Avenue. The final season of Monk premieres August 7th on USA.
My Q&A with the Taste of Tribeca's Jimmy Carbone. (o5/06/09)
My Q&A with Lucid Absinthe's Ted Breaux. (06/16/09)