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LET'S EAT: 'Pizza whisperer' brings wow factor to pizza crust

'Real pizza is all about the pizza dough, not the toppings,' said Akos Pataki, co-owner of A’s Pizza food truck, which offers the one-of-a-kind taste of sourdough crust

Akos and Erika Pataki have a passion for pizza – handcrafted the way it used to be.

“Real pizza is all about the pizza dough, not the toppings,” said Akos, who owns A’s Pizza food truck with his wife, Erika. “You taste the crust and say, ‘Wow.’ It’s the nicest feeling when you bite into it. Most of our customers don’t buy pizza from someone else, they always come to us.”

A’s Pizza crusts are “light, airy and easy to digest,” Erika said. 

That’s because Akos — who does all things kitchen while Erika does the marketing and promotions for their business — creates a sourdough crust that uses a natural bacterial culture and a long, slow fermentation process. This gives the crust its sour taste, while also naturally breaking down the sugars and starches, making their crusts easier to digest for those with gluten sensitives and less likely to spike blood sugars for those who are diabetic, Erika said. 

There are no shortcuts in Akos’ crusts: “We do it the old-fashioned way. We grew up in Europe with good-quality bread. For us, it’s like time travel. This bread is from the old days.”

The high school sweethearts grew up in Hungary, both eventually getting business management degrees. The couple and their two children, Fanni and Patrick, moved to Ireland, where Akos managed a pizza store. The Pataki family moved to Canada in 2011, becoming their own boss in 2015. The pair choose to open a food truck rather than a restaurant.

A’s Pizza isn’t your typical food truck where people can pop by and order a pizza to be made on the spot.  

Instead, customers place their orders through Instagram or Facebook and schedule a time to pick up their pizza from either Newmarket’s NewRoads Chevrolet one Thursday a month or NewRoads Mazda on the other Fridays.

This method means there is no food waste, as everything is prepared for that one service. It also means everything fresh, the couple said.

Akos and Erika are now selling sourdough bread and scones at their food truck.

“Just like we did with pizza, we showed (customers) this is how real sourdough should be like. The response has been crazy for our bread.” 

Much like with their pizza, the breads and scones are crafted by hand — no mixers, no rolling pins or pizza screens — in small batches, using high-quality ingredients and baked in a tiered pizza oven in the food truck. 

While the truck is theirs, running one is “not all fairy tales and unicorns in a Canadian winter,” Akos said. “It’s certainly more difficult than a brick-and-mortar place, but it’s ours, it’s our own business and it balances out the few negative things” like having to set up and take down each day (“we have the shiniest, cleanest kitchen in Ontario), trying to work in a small space and having to pay close attention to the weather.

Akos, Erika said, is constantly looking at his weather app as the outside temperature impacts the dough-making process. Whether it’s cold or warm, Akos has to adjust what he does to make sure his customers get the best product. It’s also one of the reasons why only Akos himself makes the products they sell.

“I wouldn’t let anyone make my pizzas. The dough shows signs that very few people know. There is a six to eight-hour window when the dough is in prime shape,” Akos said.

The knowing “only comes with experience, experience and love,” Erika said. Akos, she said, is the “pizza whisperer.” 

The thing is, Akos said, bread making “is a slow process... full of obstacles that doesn’t fit in with the current speed of life. Welcome to the current age, everything is fast.”

Except at A’s Pizza.

“We do it the old-fashioned way with knowledge.”

And passion.

“I have to say what is missing is real passion, real passion to create something extraordinary.”

While Akos makes all his own breads, he share his knowledge and recipes in his book The Pizza Project: How to make the perfect pizza dough with various flour types including gluten-free dough, + gourmet pizza recipes for the ultimate pizza experience available on Amazon.