Yes, I've been a delinquent and will probably be so again. I tried to log in from Australia but couldn't seem to make it work. My home computer's been down but now it's up again and, so, here's a quick update--thanks for your patience.
Okay, the Pizza Quest website problem--our web partner had to pull out of the project for personal reasons so we're regrouping on that one. We are putting that piece together again as I write but no launch date to report--again! But it will happen, for sure, sometime in the near future because Pizza Quest is still moving forward. We've been talking with some potential sponsors and our sponsorship presentation kit is ready, so we start the hunt for underwriters in earnest in a few days. We're actually feeling pretty good about it all and, as soon as I have something solid to share, I'll do it right here. We (my fellow producers and partners in this project) really want you to see the webisodes we've made--they're quite good actually and will make you hungry for great pizza--so as soon as we get the new site up and running we'll start posting the webisodes, about one per week.
Many of you have asked about recipe testing and the good news is that I may have a new book in the works and will need a few testers in a couple of months. The days of 500 testers is over,though--I just don't have enough hours to process that much feedback, glorious as it was on the last book. I will probably limit it to 50. Now don't start writing to get on the list--you will have to wait till I complete the contract and have everything in place, and then I will announce it here. If you write in now I will have to ignore it and you will still have to write in later -- at a new e-address that I haven't set up yet-- to become a tester. I'm just saying it now to give you a heads up. Probably won't open the list till October or maybe even November. And this one will be very specialized, as you will see. Stay tuned....
Australia was fantastic! I was a presenter at the Brisbane Hilton Wine and Food Weekend along with Chef Michael Caines, a 2-star Michelin chef from the UK (Gidleigh Park is flagship restaurant, though he owns 7 others), as well as Chef Susur Lee, who many of you know from Top Chef Masters, where he came in second to Marcus Samuelsson in a very tight and exciting finale. It was an honor to be on the same stage with them, as well as many local Australian chefs and wine makers, and the Brisbane Hilton rolled out the red carpet for us and took great care of us for the five days we were there. Singapore Airlines, who flew us out and was a major sponsor of the event, was an amazing experience in its own right. The flight from Newark to Singapore alone was 18 hours (I was told it's the longest continuous flight time in the commercial airline schedule), and then we had another 7 hours to Brisbane. They keep two complete flight crews and attendant teams on these flights because they're so long. And the food is by far the best airline food ever--I hesitate to call it airline food because it's better than most restaurants. With layovers, plus my initial flight from Charlotte to Newark, it took 36 hours of travel time each way. You can imagine, I watched about 10 films and caught up on all my New Yorker magazines (which normally is a hopeless backlog), and my body had no idea whether it was night or day as we crossed the International Dateline both coming and going. The Aussies are amazing international travelors but I don't know how they do it so well and so often. Regardless, it was a once in a lifetime experience and I'm so glad I went. And I had the chance to demonstrate three breads during my demos (I did the demo twice): chocolate babka, spent grain bread, and French Country Miche. Michael Caines put on a seven course tasting menu at the end of the event for about 100 local chefs and private guests that rivaled the best meals I've ever eaten. And he does it all with just one arm, having lost his right arm at the age of 25 in an automobile accident. Quite inspirational.
School at Johnson & Wales begins again in three weeks, so we're gearing up for that, and we just hosted the Coupe du Monde du Boulangerie Team USA at our campus for one of their final practice runs before the regional championship in Las Vegas in September. The winner of that competition qualifies for the finals in Paris in 2012. My colleague, Chef Harry Peemoeller, is on the team as the representative in the Decorative Bread category. He is working out like an Olympic athlete, designing and redesigning his showpiece over and over as he prepares. This is serious stuff, as you bread-heads know, but Craig Ponsford, the team's manager and head coach told me he was really impressed with all three members of the team and has high hopes, so keep an eye out for the results at the end of September. Harry's showpiece is fabulous--I can't say too much about the design and concept until after the competition but, when you see it (as I'm sure there will be photos once the competition is over), you'll be impressed.
In other words, there's never a dull moment around here, which is one of the reasons I'm so far behind on this blog. I'll be teaching at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill on September 18th (not sure if there are any seats left--you'll have to contact them), and then on Oct. 1 and 2 at King Arthur in Norwich, VT. Also, I'll be leading a pizza workshop at Johnson & Wales in Charlotte on October 9th, and on Artison Breads Everyday on November 6th--check out the JWU website for registration details: www.jwu.edu/charlotte and then navigate to Adult Education/Chefs Choice. I think the fall schedule should be posted in a few days.
I'll try to post again soon, especially as we get more news about Pizza Quest. Till then,
May Your Bread Always Rise!