It all started as a sort of pre–Serious Eats Day get-together for people in the Syracuse-Albany-Adirondacks regions of New York state. Dhorst came up with the idea, saying we should all meet up at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.
My wife (aka "Girl Slice") and I were in. We booked tickets and accommodations in the Lake Placid area, and I suggested to the group that we all meet up at a regional pizzeria on one of the nights. We would all collaborate on a Slice review.
But then Tupper Cooks! came up with a brilliant plan. Remember Kate Martin's indoor pizza oven? She's a friend of Tupper's. He must have bent her arm, because next thing you know, he's organized a pizza party there. Peep the slideshow above for some party snaps »
What Are They Like?
That's what you're all probably wondering, right? Would you believe me if I told you they're all remarkably sane? I know, right? How could this group of pizza nerds be anything less than crazy? Well, they weren't.
Dmcavanagh (a certified Pizza Obsessive), who is very talkative in the comments here, is a bit more subdued in person—not necessarily quiet but just calmly intent on banging out pizzas while dispensing wisdom as he works.
And dhorst! I've read her mention her dog Miss Ellie's proclivity for "pizza bones" in the comments, but to actually hear, in person, "We left Miss Ellie at home, so no pizza bones for her"? That was a trip. Dhorst (also a certified Pizza Obsessive) used to work in a pizzeria making pies, and it showed.
Tupper Cooks! (yes, another Obsessive) is pretty true to his on-screen persona. The word "jovial" was made for him. He didn't really stretch any pies but handled the peel and cooked a number of pies that dmcavanagh and dhorst built. Between peel duties, he sort of played co-host of the party, since he straddled both the Slice world and Kate's world of friends and coworkers. He's quick with a joke, quick to beer you, and good at making sure everyone's having a good time.
Aya is good with topping combos and kind of a smart-ass (in a good way). She's not shy about jumping in, grabbing a pan, and cooking up some toppings for a pie. This all should come as no surprise if you know her little brother, Kenji. ;)
How It Went
The party started at 4pm, apparently. Girl Slice and I were late in getting there, since our flight into the area was delayed. Tupper says they had a bear of a time getting the oven started since it was so cold outside and there was a heavy downdraft down the oven's flue.
But the fire was blazing about a half hour after the wife and I arrived. The oven can handle about one pie at a time. I believe it might be more of a bread oven than a pizza oven, but it gets the job done. The fire was probably a bit too hot at the beginning of the evening, and we were all burning pies at first. It didn't take long to figure out we needed to turn them quite often to avoid this.
I've only played around with a WFO a couple of times, and that was only after an experienced oven-tender had gotten it to temperature and told me where to place the pies. It's another thing entirely to work with an unknown set of factors, and you really get a newfound appreciation for the skill that goes into making a perfectly cooked WFO pizza.
Anyway, like I said, check out the slideshow above for photos of the evening.