Sicily Wood Fired Pizza

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Although a dough designed to have the right amount of crust topped with extra Parmesan and Bufala mozzarella cheese, some sun-dried tomatoes, a hint of garlic, fresh basil, bell peppers, bacon, ham, jalapeno and zucchini wouldn’t be an average customer’s #1 pick, I decided to custom make mine realizing how expensive it could get with all those extra toppings and how I’m not that average customer. Like I’ve always maintained, you need to live it like you mean it. After a wait of more than 40 min, the finely made thin crust wood fired pizza was right in front of me. Flakes and seasoning is not my thing so I grabbed one of those 8 slices of the 9 inch pizza and went for it. Before I could imagine how hot the cheese was, it was in my mouth. Damn, that pizza was gratifying. It is the single most mouth-watering 9 inch dish a person like me would appreciate to such an extent that he/she would soon have the opportunity to become a part of the business and soon the family that runs it. Managed by a dexterous chef and his cousin, the restaurant was named after the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily. Probably the only place in the Indian peninsula that comes as close as it does to authentic Italian cooking styles. Big chunks of wood, a good designed oven, fresh veggies, good meat and a secret recipe for the tomato sauce and you should be fine. Spent my first day filling the kitchen order tickets and people occasionally asking for a chilled drink, it all seemed easy. The weekends have taken their toll on Chef. I tend to help him when he needs it but he doesn’t particularly appreciate it. On an average we sell 60 – 70 pizzas on the weekends in a span of 4 hours and 30 min. That’s a monumental task when the oven we’re talking about encompasses 3-4 pizzas at a time. While the Chef is running around the kitchen all the time, I make sure the customers don’t get too restless.

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Giving them a drink would be a bad move, there’s no food complimenting it. Telling them the pizzas “ETA” would be worse because now they have an expectation, ruining which would be bad for business. So I play music, usually classic rock, but then there’s always that one guy/girl who wants a different song so I let them plug-in their i-pods and play different songs, it works. Every now and then the Chef hits a small bell hanging off the ceiling, that’s a sign telling me the pizza is ready to be served. The first one month was fun, looking at people go like “Wow you run this place? good for you !”. It just kept getting better when I took some time off to study for my exams and when I returned, I started getting a small pizza ( worth 4 $) free of charge everyday after my dinner shift. It’s a wonderful experience especially when 2 French teachers from Toulouse come once or twice in a fortnight always asking you to entertain them. It’s been 3 months of work, and they still don’t get how funny my jokes are which is so ironic because they don’t stop laughing. I never stop trying though. I took the initiative to re-design the menu card and convinced the Chef to introduce new toppings in both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, butter mushrooms and beef sausages being the most popular, giving us a considerable income. I therefore promoted myself as the direct assistant of the Executive Chef, making me the Sous Chef de cuisine, head of accounting and the restaurant steward and continued serving, because its fun.

It’s the holiday season and almost all the students left for home to meet their friends and be with their family during Christmas. For me and my room mates ( 6 in total ) though, we had to stay back for additional courses. Last night, it was pretty much empty from when we opened at 6pm all the way to 8:30 pm. I managed to convince the Chef to wonder if it was a sign from god telling him to rest for a while and let the sous chef take over the kitchen for his first wood fired pizza. That was when a doctor from a nearby medical college entered and ordered 10 pizzas to go, 1 with plain cheese and lots of pepperoni. The Chef was done with like 8 of them. I decided to do the next one. It’s not as easy as one might assume it to be. There’s a lot of science involved in the process. Two basic things that control the pizza’s end result: Heat over the pizza (Air temperature) and Heat under the pizza that’s cooking the base (Brick temperature). It’s all about controlling and manipulating the difference between these two and often turning it, so that the half that is cooking at a slower rate is facing the burning wood on one side of the oven. Maintain the overhead temperature too high and cheese melts too quickly leaving you with a cold and wet base. Maintain the brick temperature too high, your base is well done but with your sauce and toppings are tasteless. You need to place the wood on the right sides of the oven in the right amounts to get that smoky wood flavor on the pizza with a slightly burnt crust that compliments the cheese just fine. I started off messing up with the dough, too thin and the heavy toppings could make it stick, making it hard for you when you try to scoop it out. I recovered well though, the Chef was supervising me at all times. The base was turning out to be just wonderful. Soon the Parmesan settled down melting between the veggies and the meat making it a perfect blend of flavors. The one I made is called the “Farmer’s Pizza”. The only thing left was to grab that pizza box. I was so curious to know if it tasted as good as it looked. I let the Doc decide and fill me in the next time he comes.


Remembering Who I Am

It all started around 3 years ago, during Christmas Eve i guess, my best friend Preethi was very upset that her dad got a new job in London, and that meant that she had to transfer with him. She threw a HUGE party, in fact she called in so many people, the backyard was filled and we had to invade the house. After dinner, we were given a chance to talk about how much we would miss her. Her mom stepped up on the stage first and she was followed by Preethi’s grand dad. Then entered all her “BFF’s” including me. I started giving a really emotional speech about how caring she is and that she is the only one I would take advise from and I tried my best to make it not sound like a complete cliche. she was so touched by my words and she sprinted onto the stage and started talking about me. That was when I actually started looking at myself differently. Here I am standing in front of hundreds of people I don’t know and I’m listening to this person who probably knows me more than anyone on this planet ( Other than my Mom ) say such nice things about me. I started dreaming. On stage !. Just like they show in the movies. I started thinking that you Always need someone to ignite that spark in you that tells you who you really are. What kind of a person you are. There is absolutely no individual in this world who I can think of who could do this all by him/herself. You always need someone telling you where your heading. The Do’s and the Dont’s. It’s usually a Loving Mother who fits best to play this character in one’s life but quite often, your best pals come into play when you need them. So then, I realized who I really am. Well I guess I’m still working on it. That night basically inspired me and I tried to make a video ever since and finally managed to make it. Although I’m an amateur in Video Editing, I pulled it off and I Dedicated this video to My Mother who really loved it.

Softwares Used :

Sony Vegas Pro 9.0, Adobe After Effects Cs5, MS Paint, Fraps, Blufftitler V3

Music : Unknown

Remembering Who I Am…

I’ve Walked My Roads Without Shortcuts

And Missed So Many Turns

I’ve Stopped Along My Journey

And Outright Refused To Learn

But Somewhere In My Spirit Is A Light

I’ll Never Fully Comprehend

It Takes Me Through My Painful Chapters

To Reach My Stories End

In My Deepest Darkest Days

I Cry

In My Deepest Darkest Days

I Die

In My Deepest Darkest Days

I Learn To Try I Reach For The Sky

With My Arms Open High

And I Always Remember Who I Am

The Road Is Long The Book A Million Pages

At Times I Get So Tired

I Have To Read And Walk In Stages…

But There Is A Power Beneath My Feet

That Helps Me Float On Stressful Days

Not Knowing How Or Even Why

I Suddenly Turn That Page

The Voyage Traveled Is My Narative

Remembering Who I Am


It’s My Contribution To This Place

I Signature In Stone

Its Not The Battles Failed

Its The Journey Flown

I Will Affirm I’ve Made A Difference

Remembering Who I Am

I Am Suraj Chepyala

Life – A Journey

Wikipedia defines Life as:

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes (biology) from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate” And Death as:

“Death is the termination of the biological functions that define a living organism. The word refers both to a particular process and to the condition that results thereby”

But I feel there is so much more than the “Beginning” and the “End”. The big part that’s in between is so precious and so adventurous that one fails to comprehend the meaning of complete euphoria. What I mean to say is that No one can ever be satisfied, there’s always something more to do once you’re done with something else. And this feeling is really important. Imagine a world where your done with your Bucket list when your just 12 and you have no more wants or needs and you no longer seek pleasure in activities that most would remember for their entire lives.  It’s quite impossible actually for someone like that to exist. And it’s no hard work at all, All you got to do is get out there and just be YOU. How hard can it be? And this Blog is mainly to send the message to everyone who felt like their Life is lonely, incomplete, meaningless, and purposeless. Life is so much more than that. There is ALWAYS someone around who is ready to lend his/her hand. There’s only one way to live this fantasy and that’s by enjoying it every single second up to the brim of beauty. There are strict rules though, or say facts? That’ll remind us why we don’t smile all the way during this wonderful journey, or maybe We Do…

Rule #1: Life Is Too Short To Be Someone Else.

Rule#2: Indecision is the key to flexibility.

Rule#3: Happiness is merely the remission of pain.

Rule#4: Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Rule#5: The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.

Rule#6: Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world.

Rule#7: Suicide is the most sincere form of self-criticism.

Rule#8: If you think there is good in everybody, you haven’t met everybody.

Rule#9: One seventh of your life is spent on Monday.

Rule#10: By the time you make ends meet, they move the ends.

Rule#11: There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.

Rule#12: A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Rule#13: For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Rule#14: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research!

Rule#15: Everybody repeat after me… “We are all individuals.”!!

Rule#16: Death to all fanatics!

Rule#17: Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

Rule#18: Eagles may soar, but weasels aren’t sucked into jet engines.

Rule#19: Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

Rule#20: Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life!

Live Like You Mean It ……

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.

-Suraj Chepyala