This is the next in our series of educators featured in our Bake Twentyfive issue. Each weekday, we will spotlight a new instructor or educator in the fields of baking, pastry, and chocolate.
Chef Leo Spizzirri, Maestro Instruttore, PFC, has always been known as a dough guy. He’s studied under the best and always strives to be the best. That’s why he’s so proud to play a key role in a new pizza/bakery education program in an innovative partnership with Lesaffre Yeast Corporation and Red Star Yeast.
The Lesaffre Pizza Innovation Center kitchen is part of the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy, which recently opened in May 2018 in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, Illinois. The academy features top-of-the-line equipment, including Forno Bravo pizza ovens, a commercial kitchen, Hobart mixers and more.
The Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli is the oldest and most prestigious pizza school located in Italy, and the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy is the second official school in the United States. Spizzirri earned his master certification at Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli in all five styles of Italian pizza.
“My training started in 2007 as a pizza maker from a baker’s perspective,” he said. “I look at doughs and dough development on a lot more granular level. I’m known as a dough guy.”
The North American Pizza and Culinary Academy is led by Spizzirri, master Instructor and member of the World Pizza Team. Currently there are only 20 schools worldwide. The scuola certifies pizza chefs from across the globe, with about 100 masters in the world.
“I’ve gone back to Italy every year for 10 years,” Spizzirri said. “In November 2017, I became the second master instructor in the United States. I’ve always envisioned opening a school, and when we decided to do it, we wanted to open a legitimate certified pizza school using the same curriculum as in Italy.”
At the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy, the goal is to get everyone as excited about pizza. Cooking is a life skill that gives back in the most rewarding ways, Spizzirri says. From novice to full-fledged fellow foodies, classes are designed for people of all ages and skill sets.
The academy’s state-of-the-art cooking school specializes in interactive education. The hands-on and demonstrative classes are led by dynamic professional chefs versed in all cuisines, and pizza classes are led by a master Instructor. The school also hosts hands-on demonstration classes.