The most profound moment during a long Sunday of pizza making at Mozza's Chi Spacca in Los Angeles occurred when Franco Pepe, the quiet, nearly mystical pizzaiola from Italy, started talking about his beloved flour, a special blend he developed.
"The flour is the most important thing," said Pepe, whose pizzeria, Pepe in Grani, located in the ancient hilltop town of Caiazzo in Campagna, is widely considered to be the finest in all of Italy and is officially rated the second best pizzeria in the known world after Nancy Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza. "The flour is more important than me. If I were here without the flour, it would not be a special meal. If the flour was here without me, this meal would still be special."
How respectful. How refreshing. Here was a chef, a breed that traditionally needs their ego feed more than my dog Zeke at a burger bash, relegating himself secondary to his ingredient. But, it makes sense. Senna without wheels, Brando without a script, Sinatra without a sheet, Michelangelo low on marble.
Franco Pepe without flour? It'd just be a bunch of toppings. We're all pro-toppings, but, in the end, they're just toppings.
Before Sunday's feast began, Nancy brought Franco and his crew a few pastries and a couple chocolate chip cookies from our coffee spot, Go Get Em Tiger. As the event came to an end nearly 14 hours later, Franco raved of those cookies.
This morning I picked up five more cookies and took them to Franco at the house he was staying at on Beachwood north of Franklin. He appreciated no little.
"I'll come back for these cookies," he said through Luciano Furia, a photographer and his translator. "And for Nancy."
This is the story that helped establish a friendship between Nancy and Franco. http://www.krikorianwrites.com/blog/2013/9/2/the-worlds-second-best-pizza
Last year there was drama as the flour went missing. http://www.krikorianwrites.com/blog/2015/11/19/la-magnifica-saga-di-farina-di-franco-pepe