Crust Pizza Masterclass

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a pizza making master class on behalf of the lovely Ms Darlinghurst. As a newbie in Australia and its food, I was keen to get involved with every experience… there was only one issue that I foresaw – I don’t eat cheese. Nevertheless I have a great appreciation for the joy that it brings to many and with experience within the Italian food industry I was eager to learn more.

The Master class took me to Surry Hills, Sydney. I have learned that this is quite a fashionable area with what appeared to have a great range of restaurants and bars. I arrived early so decided to try one of the bars out. The bar I found sparked memories for me as it mirrored a few characteristics that you may find as you wander through Brighton’s lanes or make your way through a trendy part of East London. As I sat, anticipating the class to come I enjoyed listening to The Smiths and sipping my citrusy prosecco. The bar was called Pocket and as it hid within the Surry Hills walls it made a perfect place for lovers to meet and for friends to share secrets – I hope I return with more time to spend there.

When I arrive at the lesson I am handed a glass of wine… I am liking this evening so far. We are promptly shown to our work benches and meet the mastermind behind Crust – Chef Peter Augoustis. If, like me, you are new to Crust you may appreciate some background; Crust Gourmet Pizza bars launched in 2001 in Sydney and has grown successfully since to an impressive 120 stores across Australia. In addition to this, Crust became an international company in 2010 when they opened their first store in Singapore, New Zealand and the USA. It was safe to presume after learning this that I was in the presence of Pizza making geniuses’.

This evening we were going to be using influence from the Margerita. Originally created in Naples in 1889 for Queen Margherita of Italy, Crust is now giving this classic the respect it deserves with their new seasonal menu, featuring the Heirloom Tomato Upper Crust pizza, launching in October. Chef Augoustis proceeds to demonstrate what we are about to create… of course making it look super easy.

Our cooking stations proudly display the few mouth-watering ingredients that are brought together to create this new dish.

Tomato base: using only a pinch of herbs and spices to retain the rich tomato flavour, Crust’s tomato sauce is exclusively produced for Crust once a year in Italy. Crust chooses to import their sauce as the authentic taste of the tomato in this base is the only one that meets their strict taste criteria.

Tomato medley: a vibrant mix of green, black, red and orange Heirloom tomatoes, these beautiful tomatoes are hydroponically grown in Victoria ensuring they are packed full of flavour. This is the key to a great margherita pizza as it ensures the diner experiences every possible flavour on the tomato spectrum; from bitter to sweet and soft to hard.

Three cheeses: a carefully crafted combination of smoked mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella and stretched, cured mozzarella. All cheeses are locally sourced with the smoked mozzarella coming from Paesanella in Marrickville, an Australian family-run company that has been making the freshest cheeses since 1959.

Topped: with oregano verde (an oregano-based salsa verde), plus fresh and dried oregano. This balanced blend draws all of the components together to perfectly finish the pizza.

(CAPTION FOR PICTURE -Yes this did happen! Perhaps it was the wine or prosecco but I was genuinely unsure on how to use this perfect pizza slicer… all credit lost out the window at this point.)

Our finished Heirloom Pizza:

Crust made it clear they are sensitive to their customer’s needs and not being able to eat cheese tested this theory. I was spoiled by a non-cheese pizza cooked for my tastebuds only – with no cheese this pizza’s moisture was found in freshly picked figs sliced opened and decorated across the hot crispy pizza base. Ashamedly I am unsure what dressing I carefully drizzled across the top but it added colour and flavour a plenty finishing the meal off superbly.