The Perfect Pie
Meet the Jeffs, the pizza-focused trio crafting Forge’s primo thin-crust in Jack London Square.
Photography by Molly DeCoudreaux
aka “Pizza Ninja”
The sous chef, Hayden got his nickname because of the speed at which he works Forge’s behemoth wood-burning Italian oven, adroitness that comes from stints at thin-crust hot spots Dopo, Pizzaiolo, and Boot and Shoe Service.
On the pizza: “We get produce from places like Coke and Riverdog farms, and sun-dried tomatoes from Full Belly. We cure our own sausage, which comes from a small ranch in Manteca. Every product we’re using in the pizza is as pristine as we can possibly get.”
Forge’s executive chef has had to translate Jeff Krupman’s recipe to a busy restaurant, a task to which he’s well suited, having helmed busy kitchens at Chow and Gigi in Lafayette.
On the pizza: “We’re cranking out 450 of these in a night, sometimes; it’s like the pizza Olympics. We strive for consistency, but we really value the uniqueness of every pizza. People will say, ‘Hey, this one is shaped a little differently,’ and I’ll reply, ‘Well, that’s because it’s made by hand.’ ”
In charge of research and development, Krupman’s moniker comes from his penchant for jury-rigging pizza ovens. He’s been “obsessed” with Neapolitan thin crust for a decade and based Forge’s naturally leavened dough recipe on Tartine Bakery’s famed sourdough.
On the pizza: “The basis is Neapolitan—thin crust that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with a focus on simplicity and quality of ingredients. But it’s more ‘Cali-politan’ since we source a lot locally. To me, the idea is to evolve, to constantly tweak the pizza to make it better.”
66 Franklin St., Oakland, (510) 268-3200, theforgepizza.com.