(courtesy of Eric Wolfinger)
Enter Jeff Krupman, aka "The Pizza Hacker." This guy is the quintessential pizza bad-ass.
This guy has reached legendary status in my book, which is albeit a grease-stained, pizza-icon filled book. This is Jeff with one of his incarnations of the famed "FrankenWeber/PizzaForge," his mobile "brick oven."
Over the past couple of years, Jeff has been modifying a basic Weber grill by extending its height to allow for wood to burn and increasing the conductivity and heat retention to closer resemble the properties in a brick oven using perlite and refractory cement. Impressive, to say the least.
In planning my trip out west, Scott said I had to check PH, with whom he'd connected with just a few months prior in his own San Fran pizza exploration. Deciding whether or not to give Jeff a chance wasn't the issue- it was finding him. The genius of Pizza Hacker's operation is his mobility that gives him the freedom to set up an impromptu pizzeria anywhere in the Bay Area, which can also be frustrating when you're craving his legendary pies. Fortunately, you can follow him on twitter or keep tabs on his whereabouts here.
Jeff has an awe-inspiring view on pizza. He starts all of his pies by sprinkling black, smoked salt on the crust- something you really have to try. His outlook is that the outer crust shouldn't be a continuation of the pizza, but a totally new experience, and that's exactly what he's accomplishing.
Despite Jeff's disappointment with some of the selection of local mozzarella, he uses predominantly local ingredients, even picking his own tomatoes. Respect.
This is Pizza Hacker making me the "Bi-Rite Hotty," named after the eponymous local market where he bought the meat- sauce, mozz, hot Italian sausage, pickled hot peppers, basil and EVOO. This combo of fresh toppings was both jaw-dropping and tongue-scathing.
Just like New York's food pimp the "Lobster Pusher Man,"Jeff has it all- great food, rave reviews, and notoriety, except for one thing: a permit to sell food. While this might make some uneasy, Pizza Hacker has been able to fly in the face of San Fran's flawed street vendor policies without a problem (knock on wood), and if anything it adds to the allure.
A talented pizzaiolo that shows up outside bars at night with nothing but his oven, ingredients and a miner's headlamp to make pies at the drop of a hat? Pizza Hacker didn't just create the FrankenWeber, I like to think he's starting a revolution.