What comes to mind when you think of Igluu Meal Prep containers? No doubt you imagine high quality, durable containers that are great for storing pre-made meals! It’s all in the name, right? Well, it may be true that the vast majority of you do indeed use them to store your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in, but that isn’t the only way our customers are utilising our containers. This week, we sat down with Jay from Arty-Stan Pizza, and discussed how his love of authentic Italian pizza-making came about, and why Igluu containers make the perfect storage solution for proofing his dough balls! in his quest for the perfect pizza!
When and why did you start pizza making?
I started making pizza from about 2016. That was off the back of a trip that me and my wife went on for our honeymoon to Italy. And what fascinated me was the difference in the flavours, styles, tradition, flour etc. Ever since then, I've been trying to perfect the pizza that I had over there. I'm getting closer as time goes on, but still some way off.
What challenges did you encounter?
The most important and frustrating challenge was heat. Every time I made pizza in a conventional oven it was never ‘fluffy’. It was very dense and very heavy.
Luckily one Christmas, I was bought a couple of pizza stones that helped to rectify the situation making sure the base was cooked. Nobody likes a soggy bottom!
For me, the most important part of the pizza is the crust. It wasn’t until I got my pizza oven then I was able to achieve the intense heat at the top where the pizza would rise on the sides. Getting that nice and airy texture is super important.
What do you love about pizza making?
Pretty much everything! It's made me more patient because you have to wait! My dough takes 48 hours in order to be at its best. I started off with 12-hour, then started doing 18, and 24, and then move to 48 and that was off the back of the community that I'm part of. I noticed that people were doing this full 48-hour cold temperature fermentation, so I thought okay, I will give that a go. And ever since I've done that, it's been the best I've ever had.
I also like the science behind it all. After getting a pizza oven for my 40th, that's when I really realised how important the measurements were and how wrong I’d been getting it.
The creative side is really, really important to me. That’s definitely one thing I love about pizza-making; the creativity that comes with it.
Any top tips for making pizza dough?
My biggest tip would be ‘time’. In order to get a nice fluffy crust, you need to give it time. For me, a minimum of 48 hours, although if you’re going for room temperature, 24 hours will work.
But my biggest, biggest tip is to make sure you get the measurements right. Because if you use too much salt, you will kill that yeast and if you kill the yeast, you won't get any rise. You want to make a nice, airy crust and make it digestible so that when you’ve eaten the pizza, you feel like you want more. You want everyone to eat the whole pizza; not just the toppings, but the crust as well. I never used to be a crust man. I love my crust now! Because it's light and airy and crunchy and beautiful, and it just tastes lovely!
Any favourite dough recipes you can share?
One recipe that springs to mind is one that just transformed my dough. It was a recipe by Tony Gemignani, who wrote a book called The Pizza Bible. I would really recommend this to anyone who wants to get into pizza-making, because it's so easy to read and understand, it's got some fantastic recipes in there. It's also got a very, very simple way of making dough. Tony doesn't use brown sugar in his recipe, but I use brown sugar in mine, which sort of makes it my own.
What’s your favourite pizza?
That is a tough one. I don't really have one favourite if I'm completely honest. However, there is definitely one flavour that stands out, and that is the spicy sausage ‘Nduja. That's definitely my favourite by a long way.
How have Igluu containers helped you?
I was really struggling to make dough balls and keep them at a reasonable temperature in the house. Sometimes the temperature flitters above the 20-degree mark, which is not good for the fermentation. My dough was going absolutely mental, and sort of bubbling all over the place. I didn't have the right containers so I was using bowls with clingfilm instead! Which in this day and age, is bloody expensive! It was driving my wife mad! Storage-wise, it just wasn't working, because they were all over the bloody kitchen! And then I saw on Instagram, another chef using Igluu containers. Such a simple concept, which is actually meant to be for food prep. But it worked perfectly for my dough! And quite often if I’m not using them, my wife will use them for work lunches. They're just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant for dough balls, and not just for the balling side of things, but for being able to store them. Igluu containers are nice and easy to stack. They're nice and easy to use and they keep my wife happy!
What made you choose Igluu?
It was all down to seeing other chefs using them everywhere on Instagram. I thought that's quite an interesting concept. And I needed to just really find something that could change the way in which I stored my pizza dough. It's really simple to use, and It's very, very easy to store away as they are stackable when not in use. it's just a clever little product… it's such a game-changer!
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of starting pizza making?
Be really patient. And treat the dough as you would your wife, I guess! Give it love! Be nice to it! Make sure it's been looked after! And make sure it's happy! You know, because if you don't have a happy dough…you won't have a happy pizza…and you won't have a happy belly. It is all about the happy belly at the end of the day!
Be aware that you're going to make mistakes. It's a learning process. It takes time, so just relax and enjoy it. Just find your own identity and enjoy the journey. Do lots of reading, and make sure you're a scientist because that's one thing I didn't realise I’d become from getting into pizzas!
Why did you start Arty Stans?
I guess it's always been something I've wanted to do. So, when I had my pizza oven bought for me for my 40th by my wife Victoria, it sparked an opportunity in me. I'm actually a photographer part-time, but I lost all my work in 2020 and quite a substantial amount of income. I joined Instagram and I noticed that people were selling pizzas from their backyard, which I never ever thought was possible. I reached out to somebody through Instagram, I think they were called the Backyard Pizzeria (now Triple 7 Pizza) and from that, I learned how they were doing it.
I launched on the 28th of August and since then I've been serving every Friday. I take pre-orders only, so I know exactly what I'm buying because obviously, I'm not in a commercial property. I'm looking at perhaps getting one of those horseboxes or vans, but that won't be till next year. So, for now, I will be serving in the Southampton area on a Friday. I've done a couple of parties, which are good fun. And I’m looking to possibly have a ‘pop up’ at a pub called the Winston. There's a lot of things in the pipeline. But with everything in disarray at the moment within the food industry, a lot of this stuff is on the back burner. As soon as some sort of normality returns to life, there are big opportunities sitting and waiting for me. So watch this space!
For those of you who live in and around the Southampton area, and are interested in sampling some of Jay's delicious authentic Italian pizza, head on over to his website, and peruse the menu!