New York, Chicago, Vegas, New Haven... Lisle? Maybe not quite yet, but partners Leo Spizzirri and Anthony Iannone hope to make Lisle, IL, a national pizza and culinary destination very soon. Located about 30 miles from downtown Chicago, Leo and Anthony recently opened the North American Pizza & Culinary Academy (NAPCA) after several years of conceptualizing, planning, and recipe building.
Leo, a Chi-town native, has been baking bread and making pizza practically his whole life. He's collected a wealth of pizza knowledge from mom and pop pizzerias as well as the high speed, high volume major brands. In fact, there's a good chance you've had a Leo Spizzirri developed or inspired pizza at some point. He is also one of less than 100 people in the world carrying the title Master Istruttore which he earned from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, the oldest pizza school in Italy. That distinction makes NAPCA one of 20 Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli facilities worldwide and only the second in the U.S. The other is led by 11-time world pizza champion, Tony Gemignani, in San Francisco.
Anthony is an international chef from Queens who studied at Johnson and Wales before taking on head chef roles in practically every major U.S. city, Perth, and Mexico City. He is also largely responsible for the proliferation of Boar's Head Meats throughout Chicago. Anthony loves to cook and teach all cuisines, and doing it in a custom-made facility is the cherry on top of his already illustrious career.
The two buddies created an incredibly versatile venue where they offer Pizzaiolo certifications, private events, catering, and culinary classes and demo's led by Chef Anthony and Culinary Director, Renee Gabbett. The space, which is state-of-the-art in every way, is fully outfitted with...
An oven room with 8 different ovens covering woodfired (commercial and residential), gas, combo, rotating, brick, and electric
A temperature and humidity controlled dough room with 5 different mixers
A full industrial kitchen with tons of prep and storage space
An enormous demo kitchen with top of the line residential appliances
Hands-on kitchen seating with movable butcher-block tables
An intimately-sized classroom for dough theory and grain structure lessons
A boutique store with specialty ingredients and cooking utensils
Now get to the pizza. On any given day you might see Leo leading a course on Roman style, Chicago style, New York, classic Italian, Neapolitan, pan pizza, you name it. And at any given point, you're likely to see dough in several different stages - being mixed, proofing, ready to be topped, par-baked, fully-cooked, and eaten! There's pizza and pizza knowledge flying around all over the place! Whether you're an aspiring pizza-maker, a home pizza chef, or just someone who likes to learn, they definitely got a pizza course for you. Now check out some of the pizzas down below:
Now, if you made it this far, you might be thinking this place has a lot going on...maybe too much. But it's one of those things that, once you see it, you'll immediately say "aahhhhh, this all makes sense now". Everything fits together nicely and thoughtfully to provide a comprehensive educational and culinary experience. We're wishing these guys the best of luck and sending some major FORZA their way!
*Full disclosure - while this is definitely a blogworthy pizza topic in itself, Forza Pizza Media provides media services to the North American Pizza & Culinary Academy. Where do you think all these pictures came from? ;)