Last Wednesday, I made pizza at the Hackney Pearl. It was the first time that I stepped into a professional kitchen. The closest I’d come before that was a brief stint working in a coffee shop, making sandwiches and salads. Back then, I was just a dumb kid who needed a summer job. Now I had talked a big game about my pizza, the Pearl had taken a gamble, and it was time for me to deliver.
When I arrived, I was trying to hide the fact that I was a nervous wreck. I had one hour before service was suppose to start. I am a bit of a nut when it comes to timing, and I like to have everything in place before I begin a task. I looked at the clock after what seemed to be five minutes. Instead, it revealed that I had been working for 45 minutes, and I wasn’t even close to finishing my mise en place. I saw that my window of “calm before the storm” was gone.
The Pearl doesn’t have a wood fired pizza oven, so I made due with two stones heated in a commercial oven. Once the oven was hot, I did two test runs. Make that two and a half test runs. One the first go, I forgot to flour the peel, and the pizza dough stuck like chewing gum. There was no way to salvage it, so I had to bin the entire thing. I was mortified. I can only imagine what everyone else was thinking at that point. Here’s someone who says she can bang out 20-30 pizzas for our restaurant, and she can’t even get the first one off the peel? If it had been me watching, I would have been thinking, “What the fuck have we gotten ourselves into?”.
The good news is, I managed to recover. Once the first order came in, everything started to fall into place, and it became a blur of dough, sauce, and cheese. I didn’t stop once. Not once. I think I have a table of supportive friends to thank for that, but those guys aside, the place was still jumping. As 10pm approached and the containers of toppings dwindled, it seemed as though I was pulling it off. But more importantly James, the head chef and owner, was happy.
Before he opened the Hackney Pearl, James worked at St John. He is quite possibly one of the coolest and calmest people I’ve ever met. He was absolutely fantastic at giving me guidance and keeping me at ease. In fact, I felt extremely welcomed by the entire crew. It’s a great team, and I see why it all works so well. So I’m happy to report that the first ever “Pizza Night at the Hackney Pearl” was a success. In fact, we’ve decided to make it a weekly feature. From now on, you’ll find pizza and games on Wednesday evenings at the Pearl. Stop by and see us sometime.
- Pizza Night
- Wednesdays, 6pm-10pm
- Hackney Pearl
- 11 Prince Edward Road
- Hackney Wick
- E9 5LX