Making Pizza with Sean Connolly at Gusto – The Heart and Soul of The Grand

So you might not know this, but I LOVE pizza. Love Love Love Pizza and well we all know that Italians do it best, and although I am partial to an American cheese, it is the Italians that value the ingredients.

I wanted to learn about pizza from the best in the industry. The best way to do this? Meet with Sean Connolly, creator of Gusto at the Grand at SKYCITY, of course! So that’s what I did. I stood behind the counter with Sean while he told me all about the heart and soul of Gusto and showed me how to perfect homemade pizza.

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Gusto (pronounced guh-stoh) is a rustic Italian restaurant showcasing simple food, classic flavours and fresh seasonal ingredients. Sean and I kept it simple, classic.  I was in excellent hands; Sean Connolly is one of Australasia’s most respected and instantly recognised chefs. He brings with him a wealth of experience that spans the globe as he draws inspiration from this in the kitchen.

Of course,Gusto isn’t Sean’s only restaurant, in fact, he has several and we are luckily enough to have two in the heart of the city. So if pizza or Italian isn’t your thing, then I can recommend Sean’s other SKYCITY Restaurant, The Grill. Perfect for those who love a steak done correctly.

Now, back to the pizza. First Sean taught me about the importance of pizza dough, and the use of flour and yeast. We used 1000 grade flour, only the best. We kneaded it and kneaded it, and kneaded it – it’s safe to say I had zero “gusto”, these photos tell it all.

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We then moved on to stretching the dough. This, I was good at! And then finally we applied the toppings. Fresh and quality ingredients are the most important to Sean, so much so that he sources and sells his own olive oil. It really was a case of chef knows best.
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Gusto 
is home to a pizza oven. It was my first time using the pizza oven, but Sean explained the cooking times – 90 seconds give or take! He allowed me to take my own pizza out of the oven, and I was so proud of how it turned out. In fact, I even cheekily told Sean that mine “looked” better than his.
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I can’t explain how much this experience meant to me. Not only did I get to cook my fave with a very special chef I also got to get some great insight to a gem, Gusto. Going behind the scenes lead me to discover what makes them great – they have a pizza oven, and have a quality group of men and women in the kitchen, where attention to detail and quality were of immense importance. I could see it.
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I can’t wait to go back and be on the other side of the kitchen if fact I am eyeing up the chef’s table placed beautifully within the centre of the restaurant.
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The Recipe;
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Pizza base
  • 1000g high-grade flour or pizza flour
  • 600g water
  • 22g salt
  • 12g dry yeast
  • 60g olive oil

Combine water, yeast and salt.

Add water mix to the flour and knead for 15 minutes until elastic in texture.

Portion into 250g balls and allow to prove in a fridge for 1 hour.  

Take out of fridge and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes before use

Topping

  • 100g of good quality pizza sauce or passata (Mutti brand is in countdown)
  • 125g ball buffalo mozzarella (we use Clevedon Valley)
  • Fresh basil

Dust the pizza dough ball and bench with flour and roll ball out to 28cm diameter.

Spoon passata over the base, (Passata is Sean’s own pizza sauce)  arrange sliced mozzarella over top.

Cook in a wood fired oven for 1-2 minutes or until base is crispy / Or bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes or until the base is crispy.

Garnish with fresh basil.

Enjoy.

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Thank you to the lovely Kate Dwek who took all these amazing action shots on the fly!

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Hannah Rogers

The Modern Girl is Hannah Rogers, a modern blog for the modern girl featuring all the latest beauty news & fashion trends, products, reviews & more.

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