Monday, February 23, 2015
Blaze Pizza opened two new restaurants in Roseville and Gold River a couple of months ago. Executive Chef Bradford Kent, who has been featured on Good Morning America, was in Roseville last week, where I had the opportunity to talk with him.
Blaze Pizza offers a fast assembly-line approach to pizza ordering so that you can get your 11-inch pizza quickly but eat it at your leisure. At the beginning of the line, you choose which type of pizza crust you want, either classic or gluten-free. Both are vegan and non-GMO. The pizza dough will have been fermented for twenty-four hours in order to make it easier to digest. A dough press is used to shape it.
Next, you decide which sauce you'd like. The vegan choices are the red sauce, spicy red sauce, olive oil drizzle, or BBQ drizzle. They even keep a separate container of the red sauce in the vegetable section in case you want to avoid any accidental drips from the non-vegan sauces.
The vegan cheese option is Daiya. It's kept in the section with all the meats, but they keep a cover on the container so that nothing will fall into it that you don't want to eat.
There are numerous vegetable toppings from which to choose: artichokes • arugula • bell peppers • cherry tomatoes • chopped garlic • fresh basil • jalapeños • mushrooms • olives (both black and Kalamata) • banana peppers • pineapple • red onions • red peppers • sautéed onion • spinach • zucchini.
Chef Brad is very aware of vegan issues and concerns, and he knows which ingredients might be problematic for vegans. For example, he researched the company that provides the cane sugar for the restaurant's fresh lemonade to make sure they don't use bone char as part of their refining process. There are separate pizza cutters and other utensils for vegan pizzas, and if you're concerned about whether the person assembling your pizza is using gloves that might have come in contact with meat or dairy products, they will change their gloves upon request. More information for vegans is available in the FAQs on the Blaze Pizza website at http://www.blazepizza.com/faqs/.
After the interview, Chef Brad offered to make a pizza for me, an offer I couldn't pass up! I asked for the classic dough, red sauce, Daiya cheese, mushrooms, black olives, banana peppers, and pineapple. It was baked in the approximately 700 degree oven for about three minutes, then Chef Brad drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with a little sea salt. It was excellent! The crust was light and crisp, and the red sauce was very flavorful and not nearly as salty as the sauce that most pizza restaurants seem to make. My preferred toppings were mostly processed, but the other vegetable toppings looked fresh and appetizing. Chef Brad prides himself on the high quality of the ingredients used in Blaze's pizzas.
I was impressed by the commitment to environmentally-friendly packaging at Blaze Pizza. Their eating utensils are made from recycled materials, the drink cup lids are made from plant-based materials, and their drink cup and box suppliers are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. What I really loved, though, were the pizza boxes available to people who can't finish their pizza in the restaurant and want to take home the leftovers. Instead of receiving a full-sized box, they receive a box that's exactly half the size of the full box.
Blaze Pizza is a national chain with fifty-six restaurants currently open. In addition to the Roseville and Gold River locations, a restaurant is expected to open in Davis in the near future. Chef Brad hopes a Sacramento restaurant will open eventually. Information about restaurant locations and hours can be found on the Blaze Pizza website at http://www.blazepizza.com/ or on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlazePizza.