GoHospitality caught up with Hamish Rodwell, chef and manager of the Australian National Pizza team, about his experience with the team and being a part of its journey through the competition.
What kinds of things and ideas were circulating at the Pizza World Championships that the team or yourself wants to bring back to Australia?
Some of the equipment and ovens being used at the event were very impressive . I felt that we all have gained a good understanding of how the event runs. Having now been through the competition, we have a better understanding as to how it runs in regard to the timing, scoring and importantly, what is required from each competitor in each category. This will help us prepare for next year.
How did you get involved in participating at this event?
Dario and myself set up a pizza company called "Pizza Revolution." We want to become industry leaders in pizza training, equipment and products. We manage the Australian Pizza team that represents Australia on the worldwide circuit.
How did you choose the team to compete for Australia?
Every year we will have a pre-selection, which will be held at Fine Foods in September. Two winners of every category will become a member of the Australian pizza team and will have the opportunity to train and possibly represent Australia.
Are there any new methods or approaches to pizza, any new speciality pizzas you think might suit the palate of Australians?
I feel that this year you will see emerging Pizzerias offering "Pizza Pala". It is a specialty of central Italy. Pizza pala is pizza made in a slab rather than a circle, and its made with a different type of dough.
There were many different pizzas being served with some competitors pushing the boundaries with topping and ingredients. However, l feel that simple is best: Simply showcasing quality ingredients.
How did you feel the Australian chefs went working with the local Italian ingredients?
I think the ingredients that were on offer in Italy are amazing - very seasonal and fresh and the Australian chefs used this produce really well. The Italians take such pride in their produce and care for their ingredients. Produces is another level in Italy.
Did it pose any obstacles for them?
No. We had a couple of Italians on our team to point us in the right direction and show us the quality produce. The language at times was the only real obstacle.
After visiting ALMA (international school for Italian cuisine) how has your perception on training changed?
I thought that the ALMA school was amazing. They cater to everyone and take culinary education to a higher level. The facilities and programs on offer are exceptional, and the school is a global success. For example, they offer work experience at the end of each stage.
You are developing monthly pizza workshops in Sydney for qualified chefs – what do you hope your biggest achievement in doing this will be?
We are hoping to offer the first Italian-accredited pizza course in Australia . The 3 day course will give students the skills they need to take their pizza career to the next level. Students work hands on throughout the course and really dissect the fundamentals of dough, pizza in theory, oven and sauce recipes.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Ambitious, caring and focused
What are the likes and dislikes of your job?
At this stage l have not many dislikes running my own company - there are so many different challenges, but this is what I love doing.
What is the most interesting place you have been for work and why?
Cooking in Cambodia was amazing - the produce, flavours and people . I have been very lucky to travel the world to eat and cook in amazing places. Sounds like a great job!
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I think Chef Adrian Richardson has been one of my biggest inspirations. When I worked for him, he taught me a lot about food and always following your passion.
If you could live on one food for the rest of your life it would be?
Mozzarella. My recent trip to Italy showcased this amazing cheese for me.
What type of kitchen utensil would you be?
Good quality Japanese cooks knife - you would alway be loved in any kitchen