J. Kenji López-Alt's Pizza Topping Mantra For A Flavorful Pie

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Few foods boast the passionate, enduring fanbase of pizza. According to Grubhub, pizza was among the top five foods ordered from the platform in 2022. And then there are the untold numbers of people who sing the praises of homemade pizza. That's where J. Kenji López-Alt comes in. The chef is a columnist for The New York Times and the author of "The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science," which received a James Beard Award. His YouTube channel has amassed an impressive 1.33 million subscribers and features instructional cooking videos. Whether you're curious about plant-based eating or trying to achieve the perfect crisp when making General Tso's chicken, J. Kenji López-Alt knows how to get the job done.

López-Alt also wrote a children's book called "Every Night is Pizza Night," via Serious Eats, for which López-Alt is the lead culinary director. Like his protagonist Pipo (and her cleverly-named dog Muttzarella), the chef shares a love for pizza and has a few ideas of his own about what constitutes a perfect pie. In fact, the logical López-Alt has a pizza topping mantra for it.

Less can be more, says López-Alt

True pizza fans know that even a bad pie is still alright. But, of course, a good pie is even better, and according to López-Alt, good pizza is all about exclusivity. Per Serious Eats, the chef's pizza topping mantra for a flavorful pie is: "Whatever is added to my pizza must be more flavorful than the last thing I put on it, and no single topping shall be so strongly flavored that it masks the flavor of those that come before it." It reads like a bible verse, and it's arguably serious in its own right.

Using already-savory cheese and tomato sauce limits you to high-flavor toppings like sausage or pickled peppers. If you want the flavor of your toppings to shine, says the chef, don't be afraid to limit cheese and sauce or forego them altogether. Sounds like sacrilege? Some diehard pizza heads might think so. But, fellow pizza enthusiast López-Alt says a sauceless, cheeseless pie loaded with zucchini, summer squash, red onion, and pistachios belongs in the top echelon of flavor-packed 'za. According to a New York Times article, López-Alt also recommends tossing his homemade pizza on the grill to emulate the high heat of restaurant pizza ovens. These sorts of reimaginations are in keeping López-Alt's experimental approach to cooking. "Often you find that traditional techniques work really well," he says via Grub Street, "but it's nice when you find that they don't."