For some reason, I took a trip down memory lane this weekend. Cue dreamy music… It’s 2006 in New York and I just moved to town. I needed a job and most employers didn’t believe me when I put six-year Seattle café Owner/Chef on my resume. Probably because at the time I looked like a young kid, especially when I shaved. But I needed money so I waited tables at a chain restaurant called Duces (the name has been changed). It was there that I learned what it truly meant to hate your boss. Not just dislike; I really wanted bad things to befall this man.
He was Arabic and from some country where they must have had years of civil war because he couldn’t care less about anyone’s feelings. All this added up to an experience I will never forget. My first encounter with him was when I showed up “out of uniform” because I didn’t have black shoes. I was given the ultimatum to go buy shoes or lose my job. Since I was on the verge of homelessness, a co-worker was kind enough to lend me the money to buy black shoes. It was my first real job, and I hated it.
All that dark matter polluting my being was compounded by the type of cuisine they served. Pizza was their main stay but tables mostly ordered cheese sticks and chicken tenders. It grossed me out and the guilt I experienced from dropping off medium rare steaks really bothered me at first. Eventually, I became numb to it all. I made a plan to save money and get out. But in the meantime I decided to start working the system, politicin’ with the managers to get big sections and make more tips and showing up late but having co-workers clock me in. So many stories, good times.
As a chef, I often think about the food they served at that place and how many people ate there from all walks of life. One of the things they were good at was of course, pizza. Here is my twist on a pie that I served to tables the most.
1 pizza bread shell (or 2 pita breads)
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup smoked tofu
1 cup smoked tempeh bacon
1 cup vegan BBQ Sauce
½ red onion, julienned
1 package vegan mozzarella style cheese (one that melts…Daiya works!)
olive oil for drizzling
½ cup cilantro, rough chop
In a medium skillet over medium high heat, heat oil until hot and shimmering. Add tofu and tempeh, sauté until crisp. Take ¾ cup of BBQ sauce and mix with ¼ cup water. Add diluted BBQ sauce to the skillet and reduce heat to medium, cook with protein until sauce reduces to a thick gravy-like sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Layer half of your cheese on the pizza shell. Add tofu/bacon mixture, sliced onion, and drizzle with the remaining BBQ sauce and olive oil. Top with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees and enjoy!