The 2nd California USA Pizza Training Seminar

If you skip The 2nd California USA Pizza Cheese Training Seminar by California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), you are losing some of the most important information about cheese and pizza industry, especially when you are planning to open your own pizza shop (pizzeria). However, there’s no need to worry as BAKERY MAGAZINE is there to tell you a little bit of what was going on in Baking and Chef Center (BCC) on April 2nd 2011.

The speaker of the seminar, Chef Mark Todd, is terrific! Mark spoke loudly with a healthy dose of jokes. He also explains the detail of the cheese and pizza industry in a very detailed way, thanks to his in-depth research especially for Asian pizza market.

The Cheese Dude has worked in wine and cheese for over fifteen years, it proves that he didn’t earn his nickname “The Cheese Dude” for nothing. Mark is having a job that would make anyone on earth jealous. His job as culinary consultant, wine and cheese taster is a job that most of us can only dream of. It seems like he is very serious about enjoying life. “I love to do it because I like to help people enjoy their lives more. Some people take it so seriously, life isn’t serious. If you’re not enjoying it (life), you’re doing something wrong”, said Chef Mark.

Analysis on Asian Pizza Market
Chef Mark has prepared some serious research on Asian pizza market, as he knows when Pizza Hut, Papa Ron’s, and Domino entered Indonesia. Speaking of Domino, Mark has story about the company’s mistake in 1995 when they first came to China and it is already in some stories of business failures. Domino went in with the intention of taking over the pizza delivery market in China. Unfortunately, the pizza thing is new to most Chinese, they don’t want their pizza delivered, instead they want to go to the pizzeria and watch how the pizza is made. “Domino went out of business in 2 years. It took them 10 years to get back into that market. Now the Chinese people are getting so lazy that they even want their McDonald delivered, not just pizza”, said Mark.

Chef Mark also told the audience about an extremely successful Thailand Pizzeria with over 76% marketshare. Even though they are charging 100% more for their pizza, the place is always full from the minute they open until they close at the end of the night. “That should tell you something about the willingness of a certain percentage of your population to pay a lot more for a really high quality product”, said Mark who has enjoyed this pizza, and according to him, it tasted great. Now, pizzerias from Asia are opening pizza places in America. “Isn’t that backwards? We (American) come over here and open pizzeria, you guys don’t go there (America) and open pizzerias! But you know what? You are now”, said Mark.

Asia Cheese Story
Historically speaking, most Asians are not accustomed to eating cheese. Therefore, there are not too many popular cheeses in Asia, some of the most popular variants are cheddar and mozzarella. Mark suggested some milder taste cheese for Asian market such as smoked mozzarella, provolone, and cream cheese, but not blue cheese as it is is the cheese that most people in Asia will tell you that they don’t like it. “In Malaysia I served 12 cheese on the plate, the last one was blue cheese. A woman tasted it and swore that I was trying to poison her,” said Mark. It is no wonder that names like Brie, San Joaquin Gold, Monterey Jack, and Provolone, the cheese that Mark and CMAB brought to BCC, is not familiar to most of the audience.

The Changing Business Environment
In America, there are two separate segments of the pizza industry. The first one is the top end, the gourmet pizza, while on the other hand, they got pizza that everybody can afford and there’s market for every one of those. The middle segment is actually really having trouble, it is not gourmet enough to attract the gourmet customers and it’s not cheap enough to attract the college students. Therefore, if you want to open a pizzeria, choose your target market carefully and focus on it.

Mark continued the seminar with the pizza making demo in BCC second floor. If you already have the pizza bread, making the topping is actually very simple and fast. Mark is making some of the pizza that he made the day before on Hyatt plus some of the spontaneous ideas. He asked the audience what they want for the sauce, topping, and the cheese variants. “The great thing about pizza, the possibility is absolutely limitless, it’s all up to your imagination,” said Mark.

Even though most of the audience doesn’t speak English, they understand what Mark meant. “Mark is very good, even though my English is not really good, I don’t feel bored at all,” said Ira, a bakery owner and also a visitor. Ira has come to CMAB’s seminar for the third time but, unfortunately, due to some reasons, the cheese is not available yet in Indonesia. Ira plans to use smoked mozzarella, cheddar and provolone to her future pizza products.

To sum it up, Mark has brought some of the most valuable information on cheese and pizza, he also set a very high standard of enjoyable presentation. Hopefully one day, it is Indonesian that comes to America and make the seminar about Indonesian food. For the time being, let’s just cross our fingers. (Edwin)