Day 5 -- Whittling Down

We completed half of our Final Four Wednesday afternoon but not without throwing a big curveball to the cooks. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

After one cook dropped out due to injury, Tony Schaffer from Bellevue stepped back into the mix. It seemed that there were some nerves judging by lack of conversation in the kitchen. The grading was ratcheted up a bit – the same criteria but just a little more stringent. Everyone knew that crusts had to be better, cheese coverage more complete and the size of the pizza had to be spot on. It never ceases to amaze me that our cooks can get a pizza to be the right size so quickly and so thoughtlessly. That is these cooks can just toss the pie out of routine, lay it on the board, top it, launch it and it comes out within half-an-inch of ideal.

But let’s get back to that curveball. I appreciate that we are a company that cares about the environment and pushes to lessen our impact in any way we can. Today this manifested itself in our Commissary delivery driver noticing that the ovens, which I had turned on early that morning for the competition, were ablaze much earlier than normal. Not wanting to waste any more gas, he turned them all off. Normally this would have been perfect, but it left us testing our cooks’ ability to make a pizza in a lukewarm oven. Everyone adapted and given that it was a level playing field no one complained.

It happened that the two most tenured competitors moved on. Paul Williams of Crossroads went first and once again set the lowest time of the day with a 33 second cheese. His daughter, Winter, looked on but wondered why he couldn’t have saved his 30-second effort for her spring break. Second place was tightly contested with Sam Kosola, Tony Schaffer, Bert Trotter and Amanda Johnson all coming close. But it was Lake City Way’s Shift Leader Mike Young who edged everyone out. His secret? Plopping his chosen dough ball on his heated leather car seat for the ride in. That’s not yeast you smell, Mr. Young, that’s victory. Enjoy the ride.

The other half of the Sweet 16 features the “Sand Point 4”. Two years ago Crystal Leahy, Cameron Jackson, Luis Bibiano-Lopez and Jason Legaspi were all co-workers at Sand Point. Reputed to have the best looking pizzas in the company, Sand Point built a stable of good tossers. Jason, Cameron and Crystal have all moved elsewhere to spread the knowledge but reunite as 2 look to move on to the Final 4. They will be challenged by Luke Sumpter of Magnolia, newcomer Romael Jacobs of Miller, Lisa Rossiter of Queen Anne and Alex Henderson of the Commissary.

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GM Paul Williams from Crossroads is the first person in our Final Four Cook Competition.

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Shift Leader Mike Young from Lake City Way tosses his way into the Final Four.