Everyone loves a great story. If the story is about pizza you got my attention. Here is a wonderful story about a once a week pizza maker who became a champion!
Norma Knepp is a pizza champion. She is a self-taught pizza maker. She was able to research how to make pizza by looking on-line, making relationships with other pizza makers and asking lots of questions. She outlined her entire story in an interview with Peter Reinhart’s Pizza Quest.
Her pizza story really starts not with pizza but with pop corn. She and her husband took over a stand started by his parents in 1928. The busines expanded a bit with multiple operations. After becoming fairly successful with the business, her husband became ill and she had to close the stands.
She then purchased a funnel cake stand and sold other different types of food including Mexican Food. One of the businesses at the Farmer’s Market was the start of a pizza operation that never got fully finished. She approached the owner of the market about making pizza in the spot and soon she was in business.
It’s one thing to run a business, quite another to run a business making great pizza. At first Norma struggled. Her pizza was not coming out quite right. She was using measurement for her pizza ingredients, instead of weight. As any professional chef or pizza maker will tell you, this is a sure sign of disaster!
Norma was not one to give up so easily. She struggled and tried. She experimented and learned. She changed her pizza recipe many times. She was able to get her recipe down and her pizza came out great.
She had heard about the “Caputo Cup” competition but never really thought about competing. That is until she met Tony Gemignani, and had him sign a copy of his book. The Pizza Bible. She also met John Arena and Scott Wiener. Tony spoke to her about competing and so she decided she would go for it!
She decided to give it a try. She took a train for New York with all of her pizza supplies.
She was nervous and apprehensive but she gave it her best shot. She was competing with the Best Pizza Makers in the entire country with her New York Style pizza. Some of the pizza makers have decades of experience behind them. Norma came in first place. She won the Caputo Cup for the Best New York Style Pizza!
You can check out Norma at Norma’s pizza, but she is only open on Tuesday’s.
The following is an interview I did with her at Pizza Expo.
Norma’s Pizza at Root’s Country Market and Auction,
Contact Norma here:
Open: Tuesday’s 9:00AM to 8:00 PM
Get a copy of Tony’s book, here:
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