How Pizza Seminar Transformed Battle Lake Boathouse

Through an engaging instructor and learning the science of dough making, AIB International increased enthusiasm and pizza sales for Battle Lake Boathouse. Owner, Teri Gruss of Battle Lake Boathouse in Battle Lake, Minnesota talks about her experience at AIB’s Specializations: Pizza course. Read Teri’s story below:

    1. How did you find out about AIB’s Specializations: Pizza course?

I found AIB and the Specializations: Pizza course using Google! AIB has a good website and after comparing several pizza training programs, the Battle Lake Boathouse partners decided on AIB’s. We thought the curriculum was best for us as a venture without any pizzeria experience.

2. What was your expected outcome from Specializations: Pizza?

As an independent startup without any pizzeria experience, our number one goal was to learn as much as possible about the ins-and-outs of retail pizza production during the course. Within that one goal I wanted to leave with a defined pizza style, know the ideal flour type for that style, the correct dough formulation for that style, and the processes and equipment needed to implement it. My main goal was to return to Battle Lake Boathouse with a complete plan to move forward.

3. From your perspective, what was Specializations: Pizza about?

The course educates professionals from a broad range of specialties about the commercial application of pizza making.

My class included independent startups like myself, corporate attendees including representative from Nestle and Papa John’s, regional milling reps, chefs, and chain restaurant cooks. It was an interesting, an enjoyable mix and I think we all learned from each others experiences.

I sat next to Umesh for morning lectures. Umesh was an MBA preparing to change career paths and open an Indian-style pizzeria in Silicon Valley. Umesh was extremely inquisitive and asked so many great questions. It was that type of participant/instructor interaction that helped to make the course so educational.

AIB’s Specializations: Pizza course undoubtedly had a big role in our current success and how our customers are reacting to our pizza style. I really enjoyed attending the course and would highly recommend it to anyone considering starting a pizza establishment.
— Teri Gruss, owner of Battle Lake Boathouse

4. What is your number one take away from Specializations: Pizza?

Successful pizza production is just loaded with variables. To be successful you’d better have a good grasp of these variables. Making a consistent, high quality pizza day in and out is challenging. It requires application of the science of dough making and attention to detail.

5. What was it like to work with AIB Instructor, Luis Belozerco?

Luis has a lot of experience in the pizza industry. He has such an engaging manner and was able to cover a great deal of information. The labs were a lot of fun. We used three types of ovens, two sizes of planetary mixers, dough presses, and sheeters. We had labs about sauce “brix values” and how to make mozzarella cheese. The mozzarella lab was so much fun, we did it twice!

6. What makes a pizza outstanding to you?

Pizza is so personal. Everyone has their own preferences. To me an outstanding pizza should immediately deliver a light yeast flavor on very thin crust that crackles when cut, doesn’t collapse when lifted, but remains firm and light. The bottom crust should have a mottled, golden color with the slightest bit of char. It should have an appealing crunchy bite around a nicely rolled edge. It should be tender - not tough or too chewy.

The sauce should be balanced and never bitter, the cheese creamy without pooling fat, and the toppings even and not too heavy. House made sausage really adds to the flavor!

The best pizza I have ever eaten was made in our test kitchen during early R&D before we opened. It was not the pizza crust formulation we eventually went with but it’s still my favorite. It was a Neapolitan hybrid, full of air, light as a feather, firm and very crunchy.

7. Looking back on your experience at Specializations: Pizza, what sort of effect do you think it actually had on you and your career?

I have no doubt that our business is more successful because I attended the course. We are consistently producing high quality pizza that has been enthusiastically received in our market.

8. Can you tell us, what's your favorite slice on the menu?

Right now it’s the house-made beer bratwurst, beer-butter braised onion petal pizza. This is a white, Alfredo sauce pizza and it’s got a super beer-yeasty flavor. It’s become one of our most popular pizzas and we think it will remain so into the fall season. It’s a perfect Oktoberfest pizza.

Customers are raving over Battle Lake Boathouse’s pizza style. They use premium cheese, sauce, and house-made sausage on their pizza which customers really appreciate. Check out their website where you’ll find their latest menu, blog posts, and lots of photos —Battle Lake Boathouse.