Before he began Coals Artisan Pizza, Mark Peters was CEO of Calzone & Co., a company he began with wife Madeline Peters in 1988. They started by suppling a "made with love, hand-rolled edge, hand-filled" calzone called "Madalena's Masterpiece" to local stores around Redmond, WA. 22 years later Calzone & Co. had grown into a major distributor of private label frozen calzones and other wrapped dough products for a number of nationwide chains, with hundreds of employees and a facility in Oklahoma. "It was quite a roll," Mark Peters told Eater in a recent interview. "We grew to where we had a room-size mixer and sheeter that could produce 12,000 pieces every eight hours." After selling their company the couple took several cross-country road trips to learn about pizza, because Peters says they have "always loved dough." Now they enjoy overseeing the operation of an anthracite coal oven that blasts out a variety of pizza. But they no longer make calzones, nor do they have them on the menu at Coals. Mark Peters was happy to tell Eater some reasons why that is, and why there probably will never be any calzones on Coals' menu.
After overseeing operations that could churn out 1500 pieces an hour, Peters says he likes "making just fifty pies an hour much better." He gave Eater a few more reasons why calzones are no longer part of his life.
Reason #1: The dough is too different.
Peters told Eater that, in addition to an incredibly hot coal-fired oven, a two-day cold-rising dough is why Coals pizza is so good. But calzone dough "wants to be handled differently from a pizza. That much cold rise in a calzone will make the final product too chewy."
Reason #2: They need too much attention.
Peters said "you have to keep moving the calzone around in the oven to make sure the bottom, top and sides cook properly while the inside gets bubbling hot, and there's always a risk you'll burn the thing."
Reason #3: They take too long.
"With the high temperature of our anthracite oven" noted Peters, "our pies can be cooked and crisp within three or four minutes. That isn't possible with a correctly cooked calzone."
Reason #4: They don't earn their keep.
Peters said that before the couple started Coals, "I was lucky enough to get a look at the books of a legendary, successful pizza maker. Calzones represented less than three percent of his sales."
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