The Beijinger's 2015 Pizza Cup is upon us, and today we begin our series profiling some of the best pies in Beijing so that you, our faithful readers, can try as many as possible before we ask you to vote for the best. We start with Gung Ho! Gourmet Pizza Kitchen, the winner of our 2014 the Beijinger Pizza Cup and one of the shops that will be selling their wares at our two-day pizza festival Oct 17-18 at Galaxy Soho. John O'Loghlen, co-founder and F&B creative director, tells us about what makes Gung Ho special:
How long have you plied the trade?
I've been in the pizza business since 2006, although my godfather started Pizza Hut in New Zealand in 1978 and my uncle has had a pizza-based business in Australia since 1990.
What's your style/pizza philosophy?
Creating new gourmet pizzas with the freshest ingredients, often non-traditional pizza ingredients that come from our New Zealand roots and are either the freshest sustainably-caught seafood, the freshest farmed veggies, meats from the leanest and healthiest lamb and cattle, and fusion flavors that represent Down Under and the Pacific on Asia's doorstep.
As a company, the sustainability element of what we do is hugely important for our team internally, who realize some of the broader challenges facing the environment. This also resonates with many of our customers who want a pizza brand that represents such values.
In a city crowded with over 100 different pizza brands, what do you do to stand out?
On the food side, it's about being creative and "Daring to be Different" -- our mantra for the business. That includes being the first in Beijing to offer whole wheat crust; the first to source organic flours in China; one of the first to offer gluten-free crust; having a Beijing Duck Pizza, New Zealand Lamb Pizza, Greenlip Mussel Pizza, and so on. On the service side, we have always been extremely proud of our human capital and the efforts our team goes to wow our customers and give them a whole new level of service in Beijing.
What's your pizza style?
We are creating new and different gourmet combinations for pizza. We are not trying to compete with the traditional Italian styles, which we have vast respect for. While we trained in Italy and still send our team to certified Italian pizza school training, we are all about daring to do things with pizza that bring out the boldest flavors and provide a new experience to diners in Beijing -- blending the freshest and exciting ingredients on a great base with a homemade sauce and New Zealand mozzarella.
Thick vs Thin: What's your take?
We have both, because keeping our customers happy is our priority. If they want wholewheat, or gluten free, we have that also.
What's the secret to your sauce?
Made fresh every day, no preservatives, European tomatoes only, and a classic recipe.
What kind of cheese do you use and why?
We only use Anchor New Zealand pizza mozzarella because it is made from the best milk in the world, from the best pastures in the world and from New Zealand, where the brand finds its inspiration and provenance.
Tell us about your standard pizza.
Name: the Margherita
Thick or thin crust? Available in both
Type of sauce? Gung Ho! homemade pizza sauce
Type of cheese? Anchor Mozzarella
What makes it special? It remains one of our top selling pizzas, out of over 14 types available
How many sizes does it come in? Medium (28cm, RMB 64) and Large (35.5cm, RMB 86)
Tell us about your most unique pizza.
Name: New Zealand Lamb Pizza with Greek Mint Yoghurt Sauce
Thick or thin crust? However you want it!
Type of sauce? Homemade harissa sauce with mint tzatziki
Type of cheese? Anchor Mozzarella
What makes it special? It was designed by Rob Cunningham of East Hotel Beijing and FEAST. Also, it's topped with imported New Zealand lamb, a bit of a change from your local chuan'r protein!
How many sizes does it come in? Medium (28cm, RMB 86) and Large (35.5cm, RMB 110)
Photos courtesy of Gung Ho! Pizza
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