Do you love making pizza? Are you passionate about 00 flour and fresh tomato sauce? Do you have strong opinions about pineapple on pizza and know the importance of buffalo mozzarella? Then you should consider taking a course and becoming a professional pizzaiolo.
Or maybe you are an amateur pizza maker that is fascinated by fermentation and the science of yeast. Or you are a home chef that knows the difference between biga and poolish.
Whether you are an aspiring professional pizzaiolo or simply an amateur pizza maker, perfecting your pizza by taking culinary courses can help you learn more about the art of making pizza and take your skillset to the next level.
What is a Pizzaiolo?
Pizzaiolo is an Italian term that means pizza chef. Traditionally it referred to a pizza chef trained in specifically in Neapolitan-style pizza. Neapolitan style pizza is pizza that is cooked on an extremely hot wood-fired oven in around 90 seconds. It is charred on the edges and wet, almost soupy in the middle. A Neapolitan pizza is served uncut and is the size of a frisbee. They are considered single serving pizzas and are not meant to be sliced or shared.
These days pizzaiolo is used for any trained and certified pizza chef in any pizza making style. A pizzaiolo is someone who dedicates themselves to learning the craft of pizza making. A true pizzaiolo understands the process of making dough. They know exactly the type of yeast to use to get the results they want. A true pizzaiolo is passionate about produce. They use the best tomatoes available and know which flavors complement others to bring out the best in both. A true pizzaiolo understands the science behind cheese making and will often make their own cheeses or be close to a cheesemaker.
In Naples, the home of the very first pizza, a pizzaiolo is considered an artist, a creative soul that uses the pizza as their canvas. Pizzaiolos are often referred to as craftsmen who build a flavor profile and know how to structure a pizza.
So just saying a pizzaiolo is a pizza maker seems a little light on the meaning when pizzaiolos are so much more.
Top restaurants hire pizzaiolos to make sure they have the most experienced and knowledgeable pizza makers. Wood-fired brick pizza ovens mean very little if they don’t have a trained professional to use them.
How to Become a Pizzaiolo
Luckily anyone passionate about pizza can become a pizzaiolo. You do not need to be a chef or Italian to become a pizzaiolo. However, many aspiring pizzaiolos come from a culinary background. Many experienced bakers will make the leap from bread to pizza.
There are courses available and pizza schools worldwide where you can learn to be a pizzaiolo. Some courses are for home chefs that want to become pizzaiolos as a hobby. Other schools focus more on professional training to prepare a pizzaiolo to run a small kitchen or pizzeria.
If you want to learn the trade and art of pizza making and are lucky enough to know a pizzaiolo, you can learn as an apprentice. However, most pizzaiolos won’t take on an apprentice that hasn’t had at least some pizzaiolo training.
While a formal certificate or training is not required, it can be a helpful step to learn the basics and decide if pursuing this dream is indeed what you want to do.
How to Get Officially Neapolitan-Certified
There are a few different types of certification to become a pizzaiolo. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) is the only place that can certify a true Neapolitan pizzaiolo. They can teach you how to make a Neapolitan pizza using approved ingredients and methods. They offer courses and certifications which are internationally recognized. The AVPN was created to protect the reputation and integrity of Neapolitan pizza makers around the world. They offer certifications for individual pizzaiolos and for pizzerias that meet their high standards and can provide proof of their Neapolitan pizza status.
The AVPN has training courses that for professional and amateur pizzaiolos. The training is 60 hours over nine days. The course is divided into 14 hours of theory and 46 hours of practicum in the kitchen. If making it all the way to Italy is not an option, they offer online courses for amateur pizzaiolos.
Why Get a Pizzaiolo Certification?
If you want to take your Neopolitan pizza skills to the next level and pursue a pizza-making career, then certification is a great start. Certification will ensure you have the training and technical know-how. Depending on the certification course, most have an internship and hours of practicum included.
Suppose you are interested in the pizzaiolo knowledge but not concerned about having a Neopolitan certification. In that case, there are a lot of culinary schools and cooking classes that offer their students the opportunity to study pizza making.
What Types of Courses?
There are several different types of schools to learn pizza making skills. They vary from a few hours to several days. Some of the topics and themes for the classes are:
- Dough: Flour, yeast, waters, salts, fermentation, rising, maturation, and special equipment for dough.
- Ovens: Electric, gas, and wood, equipment for furnaces, safety regulations.
- Dough technique: Stretching, storing.
- Sourcing ingredients.
- Cheese making, mozzarella pulling.
- Drafting a pizza.
- Toppings and combinations.
Most classes have a theory component and then hands-on hours where you get your hands floured up and ready to knead, stretch, and prepare the dough and experiment with classic toppings.
Where to Study?
Here are a few pizza schools for professionals and amateurs that have a reputation for excellence. They offer official certifications that are for a mix of pizza styles.
In the USA
Famous pizzaiolo Tony Geminagni runs this excellent pizza school. They offer professional and amateur pizza classes. Anyone interested in a professional course must do a required phone interview before registering. The courses include a section on the house-made sausage and hand pulled mozzarella.
- Neapolitan and Classic Italian Style Pizza Combo Course 5 Day Certification
- Home Chef courses
This fun pizza school offers professional and amateur classes. They even have kids workshops and host corporate team-building events. If you are looking for some exciting workshops and classes, they have you covered.
- Pizzaiolo Certification Class 5 day Class
- 1 Day Class for the Amateur Baker
- 3 Day Class for the Experienced Home Pizza Maker
World-renowned pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia leads the school’s classes and workshops. They offer courses on opening and running a pizzeria and becoming a pizzaiolo. Pizza university also has a fun pizza workshop where teams compete a la Top Chef for creative pizza variations.
- 3 Day Intensive Innovative Start Smart Class The Fundamentals of Opening and Operating a Pizzeria
- Traditional Neopolitan Techniques in Wood Fired Ovens
The school boasts 140 locations all over the world and nine in the U.S. They even have a few online options to learn more about the pizza making process.
- Basic Pizza Maker 30 hours
- Specialized Courses for Professional Pizza Makers: Gluten Free Crust / Roman Style Pan Pizza and Pizza en Pala
This popular pizzeria offers classes in all aspects of pizza making. They understand the importance of the three key components of pizza and have a specific class for each one dough, sauce, and cheese making. In addition, they offer specialty courses to help students understand the business side of operating a pizzeria. This class focuses on food cost, inventory control, par sheets waste/quality control, and training. In addition, the class has gourmet sauce training for specialty pizza development. This course covers the fundamentals of the business and the management side.
- Pizzaiolo Course with Certification 4 days
- Dough 101
- Gourmet Breads Made Easy
- Cheese Making
Accademia Italiana Chef Florence,Italy
This traditional culinary school has two locations, one in Florence and one in Bologna. They offer pizza and pasta making courses for professionals and amateur chefs. The school works with several local hotels in both locations that provide discounts to students at the school.
- Master of Italian Pizza and Breadmaking with Certification 2 weeks
Italian Culinary Institute for Foreginers Costigliole d’Asti, Italy
Do you want to learn pizza making in a castle? Of course you do. The school is located in a small town in Northern Italy between Turin and Genoa. The school offers an elite culinary experience. The campus has a tasting room and wine cellar and an olive oil cellar. There is a cheese cave and a ham andsalami cave in addition to a chocolate laboratory. It really offers the ultimate Italian foodie experience and it’s in a castle.
- Pizza Course with Certification 12 weeks (4 weeks theory&practice nine weeks internship)
Chef Silvio Cicchi Scuola di Pizza Ascoli Piceno, Italy
Well-known Chef Silvio Cicchi teaches in-person and online pizza making courses. His in-person courses are in a small town in central Italy called Ascoli Piceno. The town has a deep-rooted history and with the13th-century Palazzo di Capitani del Popolo, a palace built on Roman ruins. In this beautiful town, Chef Silvio teaches private one-on-one pizzaiolo classes. He believes that individual learning is the only way to learn the art of pizza making. Chef Silvio goes over the theory and essentials of the dough, and then it’s time to get your hands working on the dough.
- Pizzaiolo Course with Certification 5 days
Scuola di Pizzaiolo with Fabio Cristiano Napoli, Italy
If you speak Italian and want to learn pizza making in the heart of the city that created the pizza, then this is the school for you. The school won the Best Pizza Training in 2021 in the Voce di Napoli awards. Fabio is a famous pizza chef with three different pizzaiolo courses to train future pizza chefs. His course is 10 percent theory and 90 percent action. He claims 90 percent of his students find work immediately after completing the course.
- Professional Pizzaiolo 100 hour course with a Certification
- Accelerated Professional Pizzaiolo 50 hour course with a Certification
Choosing a pizzaiolo course will depend on your pizza making goals and, of course, time and money. Learning Italian cooking in Italy may not be available for everyone. Luckily many of the schools offer online courses.
What to Do With Your New Pizza Skills
After completing a program with a pizzaiolo certification, you will be able to pursue a career in the restaurant industry as a pizzaiolo. You’ll be able to work in pizzerias all over the world. Or, if you choose to open your own pizzeria, you will have the knowledge and skills to succeed.
The next step for home chefs and amateur pizzaiolos is to get your equipment and set up a home kitchen with all the required tools to show off your new pizzaiolo skills. A good pizza oven is the most important item you will need to impress your friends and family with your pizza skills. And, of course, a pizza stone, pizza peel, and pizza cutter will be the essentials to make quality pizzas at home.
Once you have a home pizza kitchen set up, you can share your pizza expertise with your friends. You can even give your own pizza making workshops and share the art of pizza making with others.