Gray Brooks ’ 93 says he brings to pizza-making some of what he learned studying creative writing at UNC. “In writing, the first thing they teach
you is to write and then cut, cut and cut. You want to be able to taste everything” on a pizza, which is easier with fewer ingredients, he says.
Very Serious Pie
It is dinner hour at downtown Seattle’s Serious Pie, and
Gray Brooks ’ 93 is at the center of the mayhem in the
kitchen. While customers wait as long as 75 minutes for a
place to sit, chef Brooks is guiding his staff, coordinating the
preparation of what he considers fine cuisine — pizza.
This is not your godfather’s pizza, nor your papa’s.
Anyone familiar only with mass-marketed, home-delivery or
frozen pizza might not even recognize what Brooks and his
cooks prepare here. The pizzas aren’t round; they’re more
diamond-shaped. And, coming from a wood-fired, 600-
degree oven, their crusts are as light as a croissant but crispy
and bubbly, too.
“The really great pizza, now, you talk about the crust …
because the dough has become less the medium for cheese
and other toppings” and more the center of attention,
The toppings are local and seasonal: Yukon gold potatoes,
soft eggs, lemon thyme and Cascade fiddleheads to go along
with the more conventional buffalo mozzarella and sweet
Brooks says he limits every pizza to four toppings, so the
chef’s taste concept will come through, and cheese is applied
sparingly so it does not overwhelm the other toppings. The
pizzas are not saturated with red sauce, either. In these
regards, he is harkening back to the origins of American
pizza, when simplicity ruled.
American pizza, Brooks says, is evolving, following the
course other foods have taken, becoming a finer, healthier
and more complex cuisine as artisans migrate to pizza
Do most Americans get that? “Probably not,” he says.
“But 20 years ago, most Americans didn’t appreciate the