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From bytes to good eats
00:57 - Source: CNN

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New Yorker Jeff Varasano struggled to find pizza that he liked when he moved to Atlanta

The software engineer set out to create his own, perfect pizza at home

In 2009 he opened his own pizzeria, Varasano's

CNN  — 

When Jeff Varasano moved from his native New York City to Atlanta he encountered a problem – the local pizza was not up to scratch.

Having grown up watching his grandmother make tasty, thin-dough wonders in the oven of her Bronx apartment, Varasano was accustomed to a high standard of this universally-loved delicacy.

So, in spite of being a software engineer rather than a cook, he set out to create his own, mouth-watering pizza.

“I did a lot of crazy things to make a great pizza at home,” Varasano says. “I’ve tried over 100 flours, 100 olive oils, 100 tomatoes. I’ve sampled 51 different oreganos,” he explains. One of the tactics he used was wrapping his oven in aluminum foil in order to get the temperature extra high, and it took him six years and two kitchen fires to perfect his recipe.

“I’ve been a tinkerer since I was a little kid,” says Varasano, “I’ve always liked to experiment with things, I viewed it as a puzzle.”

Engineering quality

When he was finally happy with his home-grown formula Varasano posted the recipe online. It went viral and he opened his own pizzeria in Atlanta in 2009.

The New Yorker is very particular about his product – he grows his own oregano and uses natural sourdough which is aged for three days for a rich flavour.

“The style I like is not quite Neapolitan, not quite New York. Sort of a hybrid in the middle, but the crust is very, very light,” he says.

Varasano says he was passionate about software engineering, his original profession, but it lacked the immediacy of impact that a mouthful of great-tasting tasting pizza has.

“My software was very complicated, so it was very difficult to explain to people,” he says. “Pizza is the exact opposite. You take one bite and in five seconds you’re excited about it.”