The Pancake Epidemic got the pleasure of having Pitfire Pizza’s head chef, Andrew Lakin, over to prepare a breakfast that will not be forgotten. While juggling his busy schedule with managing the Pitfire commissary and traveling between all seven locations, we got a chance to chat to him about food, Pitfire Pizza, pancakes and upcoming projects…
Where did your love for cooking come from and what influenced you to make a career out of food?
My mother was a Francophile, she was fascinated with Julia Child. I learned a few things from her growing up and she was a big influence in the decision to pursue cooking as a career. My father suggested I work for Rich Melman for awhile and learn how to run profitable, quality kitchens.
How did you get involved with Pitfire Pizza and as head chef, how you ensure the quality of the food in all 7 locations are up to PF standards?
I was introduced to Paul by a mutual acquaintance and we hit it off. We’re both a bit consumed by dough and the fermentation process. It has proved to be a great fit. Food quality is a daily task. I am lucky enough to have some great kitchen managers who run the kitchens and hold the cooks to high standards. Our director of operations is very systems oriented and he helps to ensure everything is the same at all the stores. Paul has provided me with a great support system to help maintain the quality of the food.
We understand that just about everything that is served at Pitfire is made from scratch with quality ingredients. Please can you explain a little more about what goes on at the PF Commissary in Venice?
The craft of cooking is very important to us. The commissary makes quite a bit of the food we serve, this helps to maintain consistency. The focaccia, panini and pizza dough, all the sauces, meatballs,chicken stock, soups, braised pork, mustard, pickles, hot sauce, the list is long. The commissary is very high volume and we have a great crew.
What is your favorite item on the Pitfire menu?
The linguica pizza. Paul and I came up with it after tasting some amazing La Quercia nduja. It’s a bit different, but I love it. It’s only available for a few more weeks.
What was your inspiration behind the menu you put together for the TPE event?
I love a good breakfast sandwich. The baker I brought with me, Beau, has been a huge help with the R&D work on the focaccia we serve. We were talking about how it’s a quite versatile dough and we decided to make some English muffins with it. Who doesn’t love a good egg and bacon sandwich? I like to put greens on just about everything. I used to work for Michael Alternberg- who was kind enough to introduce me to a huge variety of braising greens.
In your opinion, what makes pancakes such an important element to breakfast?
Pancakes can be quite the blank canvas for breakfast cookery. They are very open to interpretation and can be made with so many different ingredients.
Any exciting projects coming up for you?
We’ve started working with a new flour company out of Northern California. Organic, whole grain. A completely new product. It’s amazing the flavor and feel of the product. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.
Take a look at what happens behind closed doors at the Pitfire Commissary: