The West

Theo Kalogeracos. Picture: Adam Del Borrello

World pizza champion Theo Kalogeracos will share his award-winning secrets at the IGA Perth Royal Show with daily cooking demonstrations on perfect dough.

The baker-turned-entrepreneur who started with a single pizza shop - Little Caesars in Mundaring - has three restaurants around Perth and runs Theo + Co, a one-stop pizza products service with packaged cheese, sauce, dough and the Pizza Perfector Countertop Pizza Oven that takes the hard work out of getting it right.

I caught up with him by phone in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was promoting his brand to a captive audience in a country that has embraced the flamboyant baker, who is more than happy to teach them a thing or two about perfect pizza.

He makes five trips a year to the US.

"The dough's the key," he says.

"I always use strong baker's flour - it has to be over 10 per cent protein and ideally 12-15 per cent.

"Northam flour (14 per cent) works a treat because it's grown in a harsh, dry climate."

In his first book, Theo and Co: The Search for the Perfect Pizza, he says you can try organic plain flour if you want an earthy edge to your pizza, but never use self-raising because it simply won't work.

His second book, Theo and Co Take 2: The Search for the Perfect Pizza Continues, has just been published.

"Only use cold water in the mix, so you don't end up with bubbly 'hotspots'," Kalogeracos says.

"And don't treat pizza dough like bread dough, because it's not. You want it to be crunchy on the outside and chewy inside."

The idea is to keep gas bubbles in the dough during proving, so you don't let it double in size, then knock it into shape as you would with bread; instead, knead and roll into balls, then allow to rest for 10-15 minutes and roll to shape. Or throw it in the air if you dare.

Kalogeracos will be making savoury and dessert pizzas at the IGA Perth Royal Show, using fresh herbs from the My Habitat Garden by Trevor Cochrane in the Carter Precinct adjacent to the Family Fun Stage.

You can catch him at 2pm every day. For coeliacs, there will be a gluten-free "strawberry fields" pizza on a cornmeal base topped with almond meal, fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce.

Also in My Habitat Garden, learn how to make the ultimate fast food with Love My Salad, a 15-minute daily segment at 1pm using one of the most popular vegetables around - lettuce. It even has its own Facebook page called the Social Salad Network to connect growers and consumers.

Team member Frances Tolson says the presentations will share the "joy, fun and vitality of salads" made with lettuce picked and delivered each day. It's all part of the good-food options for a health-conscious crowd who want more than a burger and chips.

Look out for baguettes from Jean Pierre Sancho; goslemes and vegie kebabs from Healthy and Tasty; low-fat bratwurst sausages from Eric's Bratwurst Hut, satay and kebabs from Bunga Raya Satay and sushi from Diamond Brook and JD's Diner.

Mexican is shaping up big, with two Mad Mex outlets reflecting the craze sweeping Perth.

"It's fresh, with a Baja-California-style menu, which means we've combined the flavours of Mexico with the health-conscious aspects of California," says Eoin Byrne, who introduced the brand to WA and runs the Hillarys and CBD outlets.

"Our guacamole is made fresh every day and we'll have good vegetarian and gluten-free options, like crispy tacos and nachos." Also on the menu, chipotle-marinated chicken and slow-roasted beef.

Other events include cooking demonstrations and fresh farmed food at this year's Guest Town (Margaret River), cake decorating in the Cookery Pavilion and the chance to try produce from Buy West Eat Best companies at the Department of Agriculture and Food Centenary Pavilion display.

Theo Kalogeracos will visit Dymocks Book Fair at Garden City this Saturday from noon to 1.30pm. He will be signing copies of his books - Theo & Co. Take 2 and Theo & Co: The Search for the Perfect Pizza. You'll also be able to try Theo's famous pizza.

The West Australian

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