Archie Rodriguez on CPK’s Trend-setting Vintage Pizzas

California Pizza Kitchen is introducing Vintage Pizzas, five pizzas from its early menus that are staging a comeback with an innovative twist. These are the first among its pizzas to use a new hand-stretched pizza dough recipe. Archie Rodriguez is President and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts In., the local partner of CPK. Here he explains more about CPK’s trend-setting vintage pizzas.

How long ago were these pizzas first introduced?

Peking Duck Pizza, Tostada Chicken Pizza, Santa Fe Chicken Pizza, Teriyaki Chicken Pizza, and Goat Cheese Pizza are all from CPK’s original menu in the US, about 26 years ago. When CPK first opened in the Philippines 16 years ago, they were also on the menu, with the exception of Teriyaki Chicken Pizza.

Why are you bringing these particular pizzas back into the menu?

Although CPK is all about offering new creative and innovative dishes, from time-to-time we often think about our treasured loved ones. So what better way to time travel? Not only are we bringing back these pizzas in their original formula, they are returning with more novelty, through a new hand-stretched pizza dough. As always, we are not your ordinary pizza chain.

If these particular pizzas were very popular then, why were they removed from the menu?

We believe food wasn’t meant to be timeless. It should be surprising, delightful, and accessible. And with our “California mindset,” we are constantly experimenting and trying new things. But in order to try new things, we had to make room for more adventurous dishes. The CPK menu is constantly evolving. I think our guests welcome that adventure which is why CPK has become the pizza authority. Whenever people want pizzas that are unique and original, they know it will be in CPK.

Whet were the inspirations for the development of these five pizzas?

CPK is always looking for inspiration everywhere. We link to offer innovative and adventurous pizzas. Goat Cheese Pizza has Greek influences. It’s vegetarian pizza with goat cheese, red and yellow capsicum and tomato sauce as base. Tostada Chicken Pizza and Santa Fe Chicken Pizza are a salute to Tex-Mex influences, a blend of American and Mexican cuisine which is pretty popular in California. Of course, from Asia we have Peking Duck Pizza and Teriyaki Chicken Pizza.

What are the main differences between hand-stretched pizza and machine-pressed pizza?

We’re using a new hand-stretched pizza dough that makes the crust light but crispy. Hand-stretched pizza dough also helps accentuate the ingredients more. Each pizza becomes a unique mix of crispiness and softness. Aesthetically, there may be little difference between them, except for some puffiness in the crust. But hand-stretched pizza is the traditional and authentic way of making pizza, the original way CPK made it when we first started.

Will all CPK pizzas eventually become hand-stretched?

Yes, we are moving in that direction. We have been developing a menu that embraces a shift towards more innovative, seasonal, and healthy dishes, starting with our vintage pizza set. We are also hand-tossing the dough, which we historically had gotten away from, so each pizza becomes unique. We redid the dough and it now enhances all the ingredients.

As we’ve said before, we’re going back to our California roots, going back to where we started. California Pizza Kitchen at its very formation was about inspiring our guests with inspirational foods, with a California twist.

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