… from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? With everything else going on in everyone’s lives these days, I lost a very old dear friend and former partner last month. Frank Carney, along with his brother Dan, started the Pizza Hut empire in Wichita, Kansas. Pizza Hut was an industry pioneer, setting standards for franchising very early in their time—laws and standards we still abide by today. Pizza Hut made millionaires out of several hundred of their franchisees. Grown from one store in Wichita to nearly 19,000 stores around the globe today, Pizza Hut remains a world standard for pizza.
In 1958, Frank Carney was just a 19-year-old student at Wichita State when he and his older brother Dan, borrowed $600 from their mother to start a pizza business near their family’s Carney’s Market. The original was an old brick building with an existing sign frame that only had enough room on the bottom line for a 3-letter word—HUT--PIZZA HUT.
Frank used to tell people that when he and Dan were starting the business, one they hoped would pay their way through college, they thought of little else except keeping the doors open and paying the bills… they never stopped to dream about building into a multi-billion dollar business.
Pizza Hut was sold to PepsiCo in 1977. Over the years, Frank got involved in various other business ventures, including other food companies, real estate, oil and gas, automotive, rental and recreational businesses.
Aside from Pizza Hut, Frank and I worked together or partnered in other restaurant concepts… Solo’s, Chi-Chi’s, Applegate’s Landing, China Rose and TR’s. I lost touch with Frank later in life due to our divergent interests and his illness. I still keep in touch with members of his family.
I like to remember Frank as a good, kind man. The early lessons I learned from Frank I still carry with me today. Frank died from pneumonia caused by complications from Alzheimer's and COVID-19. He was suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease for over 10 years—what a horrible affliction.
One of the projects we dreamed about at Pizza Hut was Chicago-Style Pan Pizza. Frank and I took numerous trips to the deep dish pizza joints that Chicago was known for. We had to change out pans and ovens to be able to produce a pizza in less time than Uno’s.
So, in Frank’s memory, here is a hack on how to make your own Pizza Hut Almost Original Pan Pizza at home. The only thing you need is a dark-colored pizza pan. More on pans in the ChefSecret.
For the crust
1 package dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder (natural conditioner)
1-1/3 cups warm water105⁰ F
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
For the pizza
2/3 cup pizza sauce (I use a store-bought sauce)
2 cups mozzarella cheese
Toppings of your choice, pepperoni, mushrooms, meatballs, Italian sausage, etc.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
To prepare the crust
ChefSecrets: Anodized, dark-colored, deep dish pizza pans cut the cooking time in half instead of using the shiny, bright pans. The dark color draws the heat through the pizza and cooks it faster. A little oil on the bottom of the pan, fries the crust allowing the pizza to be baked in less time.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “Forgiveness—Forgive your enemies, it really messes with their head.”
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