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Pizza - from scratch - a weekly treat

Withlacoochee Technical Institute students serve up old-fashioned pies to sell to the public and each other.

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE
Published September 14, 2006


INVERNESS - They make the crust. They grate most of the cheese. They prepare the sauce. They do everything except catch the anchovies, says executive chef Hayward "Hap" Hough, a Withlacoochee Technical Institute culinary arts instructor.

His and executive chef/instructor Robert Anderson's students are now offering pizza Friday in the school's caf. The pizza day isn't new, Hough said. A couple of female students tried it a few years ago, but it fizzled when they left.

But there was interest again, so they're giving it another shot. "This one has caught on this year," Hough said. When school started, back in early August, the first order of pizza business was to teach the students how to make bread. In a few weeks the popular pie was available.

The pizza is sold by the slice in the caf, which is open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays. But Hough encourages community members to come by any day and give them a try, whether it's pizza day or not.

Whole pizzas can be ordered by stopping in and filling out an order form or by telephone. Hough said they will bake until 1:30 p.m., and pizzas must be picked up by 2:30 p.m. They can be fully baked or partially baked so they can be put in a refrigerator and the baking finished at home for a piping hot treat.

There are a variety of topping options. There is a choice between marinara and pesto sauces. Meats include pepperoni, sausage, salami and/or anchovies. They offer mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and feta cheeses. Vegetables are tomatoes, black olives, red or green peppers, onions, artichokes, mushrooms and/or spinach.

There are no crust choices, but it isn't simply plain. "(The) crust is seasoned a little bit with oregano, basil, a little garlic," Hough said. The students tried tossing the crusts up in the air, but he said they usually just roll them out.

The pizzas are baked on stones, he said, in "good old-fashioned pizza ovens."

Hough said there are a lot of lessons involved in the pizza-making process, more than meet the eye. The pizza business includes writing, following directions, telephone skills, math and, of course, cooking. "There's a lot of prep work involved," he said.

Hough's students range in age from teens to adults. Several work in area restaurants, including two in pizza stores.

As for WTI's pizza Friday, "It's doing real well," chef Anderson said.

A plain cheese pizza is $5. Additional toppings are 50 cents each. Call 726-2430, ext. 256 to order.