Last week Louisville-based Papa John's took deserved flack for refusing to reveal its pizzas' ingredients to a reporter for US News & World Report in a story media outlets ranging from Gawker to Pizza Marketplace.com picked up.
While nowhere near as comprehensive as what the reporter, Melanie Warner, wanted or consumers deserve, Papa John's founder and CEO, John Schnatter, provided a little insight into what goes into his pizzas at a Feb. 27, 2010 taping of Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live at Louisville's Sullivan University (this editor was in the studio audience). The episode aired later that spring and is embedded at the end of this post in three parts.
Does the show reveal much? Nope—but it is more specific than "better ingredients."
While making The Works pizza live in the studio, Schnatter shared these ingredients with co-host Tim Laird and an audience of about 75 people:
·The dough includes "purified water;" a "special blend of wheats, Platte River seed; a little bit more pulp, a little less skin makes for a sweeter dough." (Part 1, 3:10-3:18)
·For the sauce, Schnatter revealed more about what's not in it that what is: "The key to sauce is fresh pack, not from concentrate. And we get that tomato from the vine to the can. We pack once a year. And it's fresh packed in less than six hours." Tomato paste and concentrate are not part of the sauce, Schnatter confirms. And he also says "no" when asked if the sauce is watered down. (Part 2, 0:31-0:52)
·The Works includes pepperoni, ham and spicy Italian sausage, which Schnatter described as, "Real meat. Real meat. Real meat. No artificial flavorings. No TVP [texturized vegetable protein, which can be used as a meat substitute]. No fillers. Real meat." "It's also from the tenderloin of the animal, so it's a better cut of meat. (Part 2, 2:27-2:59)
·"These are portobello mushrooms, baby portobello mushrooms," Schanatter said of another topping on The Works. "They're not canned, they're fresh." (Part 2, 3:00-3:20)
·When Laird says, "In every store now, you hand cut all the fresh ingredients," Schnatter is quick to qualify, "the veggies." "Everyday, fresh cut, every store," Schnatter then added. (Part 2, 3:23-3:30)
·"This olive came from a tree that's between 35 and 100 years old. And the Spanish have the best horticulture and climatic conditions for olives. So we get our olives from Spain. We get our pepperoncinis from Greece. We get our tomatoes from California. We get our wheat from Kansas." (Part 2, 3:32-3:49)
·The cheese is "made from 100 percent real mozzarella," Schnatter said. "It's a proprietary recipe," Schnatter answered, when Laird asked him about the cheese's melting properties though. (Part 3, 1:10-1:18)
The pizza Schnatter prepared was not among the ones audience members sampled at the end of the show—a common practice on cooking shows—so it's unclear if its taste and ingredients varied from a pie prepared by your local Papa John's.
Footage from the show was alsoused in Papa John's TV commercials.
[Photo: Courtesy Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live]