We here at Lantern Club are proud to have one of Australia’s best chefs in charge of MAZi restaurant. John Lanzafame is a superstar within the cooking industry with titles such as World Pizza Champion, top book seller as well as TV appearances on various networks to his credit. But anyone who works with John knows that despite having being literally a chef for stars such as Justin Bieber and the Rolling Stones, he’s as humble as your average local chef can be.
In between his busy schedule, we managed to get John Lanzafame to sit down with us and chat about his amazing career in the kitchen so far.
What made you want to be a chef?
Well I actually wanted to be a tailor. So I started tailoring at school and I was going to get an apprenticeship in that. But I had a love for food at the end of school so I said ‘stuff it’ and became a chef. That influence really came from family, mum and dad, with our Sunday Italian feasts at the table. And that’s what made me love it more.

What have been your career highlights so far?

Opening up my first restaurant. I set myself a goal to open up my first restaurant at the age of 30. I did it at 29. That was Lanzafame in Haberfield. I just remember building it from scratch. It was an old antique shop. We totally gutted it and turned it into a restaurant. My first restaurant really was my success. Another career highlight was competing at the culinary Olympics. Cooking for Australia was an amazing experience. We came and we conquered and we’re still all great friends 12 years later.

Who’s the biggest name to ever compliment your dishes?

I once cooked for the Rolling Stones at the Ritz Carlton at two in the morning and Mick Jagger loved my pasta. Billy Crystal was another happy customer. Justin Bieber and his group also loved our pizza and pasta. I’ve served so many it’s hard to remember!
john lanzafame 2

How did you get involved in the world pizza championships?

When I was working with Pete Evans at Hugos, he entered himself in the competition as he was opening up his own pizza restaurant. This was in 2005 when I worked for him. He had to go film in France so he asked if I could enter for him. I said “mate, I know nothing about making pizza”. But he told me to do it. From then, I entered and never looked back.

What was it like winning those titles?

The first time was like ‘wow, I can’t believe I won!’ and then going to New York and winning the same competition. I was flown there first class and beat all the other 15 countries and became the world champion. It was pretty full on. The winning pizza was a stuffed river calamari with crab meat with watercress salad. It was a fantastic pizza.
John lanzafame kitchen
What are the main things to remember when making the perfect pizza?
KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Too many ingredients spoil a pizza. Focus on a hero product. For example, if you’re going to make a pepperoni pizza, concentrate on the pepperoni and not everything else. I know a lot of Italians don’t believe that but what can I say? I have the top selling pizza book in the world, so I think my point counts these days!

We have a pizza oven arriving soon at Lantern Club, just how good will MAZi’s pizzas be?

Our pizzas are going to be phenomenal. They’ll be wood fire to the most traditional point and I’m going to have a ‘modo mio’ twist. That is Italian for ‘my way’. But they definitely will be authentic Italian and something to look forward to is the mortadella pizza – which is my signature – as well as the pork belly pizza which was founded at Hugos but will be complimented here. We’re also going to be doing slow cooked joints, for example small pork porcetta, slow cooked shoulders etc. Roselands hasn’t seen anything like this yet, so I’m really excited.

What is your favourite food?

Pasta by all means, but really it’s anything my mum cooks. That’s why I love her so much and that’s why I’m in this industry.
What do you like to do outside of the kitchen?
Trailbike riding, shooting and spending time with friends. Entertaining is my favourite thing in the world. Everything I do around life is around entertaining.
© Lantern Club, Roselands