A CHAT WITH PEPPE MIELE, DELEGATE OF VPN AMERICAS
His "Antica Pizzeria" was the first pizzeria in the United States certified by AVPN. Since then, thanks to his work the number of associates has grown to reach almost one hundred members. In the newsletter of December we meet Peppe Miele, Delegate of VPN Americas, which tells us the increasing popularity of pizza in the New World.

What are the activities that VPN America is scheduling lately?
The programs of our association go from basic training courses to the technical products workshops. The training has an increasing success: if first, we taught to ten aspiring pizza makers in a year now they are at least one hundred. I have to say that lately we manage to work harder because the interest is growing, both in the U.S. and Canada
What‚€™s the reason for you?
The reason is that America has finally discovered the true Neapolitan pizza. Let me explain. When I decided to open a pizzeria in Los Angeles and I became a member of AVPN, I bought a oven to make a true pizza. I had to promote and inform very hard because in the United States the dish had lost its characteristics. There were not many wood-fired ovens nor the typical products of the supply chain. Pizza had become something else, and the Americans considered it almost as one of their own recipe. Pizza had arrived with Italian immigrants, but over time was revolutionized, becoming a new product, seasoned with ingredients that don‚€™t exist in the Neapolitan tradition. With great humility, AVPN proposed the true Neapolitan pizza introducing its tradition in a modern way.
Have you found any difficulties following this path?
In fact, the market did not immediately welcomeus warmly. People saw the Neapolitan pizza like a poor product compared to the american one, which looks richer and more defined: full bodied ingredients, a perfect shape. When I started making pizza and offering it, my clients did not believe that it was the real pizza. And above all we had to fight against the Americans false belief about the origin of pizza. For this reason, in 1999, we even ended up in a court in San Francisco. Anyway, generally they did not help us and we were also criticized.
And what about now?
We are experiencing a very good time. And the mark of AVPN is increasingly recognized. And it is important that people traveling across continents meet this Pulcinella that certifies the product quality everywhere. Moreover, now the new generation of chefs look with interest at this logo because what they see is an opportunity to open new markets. And one of the aspects that should not be underestimated is that none of the local affiliates of AVPN in Americas has never closed down and this is seen with respect and admiration.
What do you think could help further the spread of the True Neapolitan Pizza in the States?
Definitely a wider availability of the basic products is essential, even if now the market is quite lively about it. Companies should focus mainly on the internal States, where many products do not arrive. You must consider that this is an excellent time for the handcrafted pizza. Americans are discovering the pleasure of going to a pizzeria and not just to consume a takeaway pizza. They like to see the wood-fired ovens, the preparation, the taste of fresh products which give the dish a unique quality never seen before.
What kind of chef is Peppe Miele?
I have always proposed a cooking oriented towards the Campania tradition. I love using simple ingredients and seasonal food. But I also like to revisit the regional cooking with my imagination.
And the Neapolitan cooking?
We Neapolitans are lucky: our Campania cookbooks are huge, full of ideas and recipes. This is because during its history Naples had many influences that left us an heritage, and among many things, different gastronomic cultures, a prosperity that is an essential part of our cuisine. In fact we are able to work with any kind of ingredient.
Thursday 20 December 2012

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