General Manager of Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza December 05, 2016

General Manager of Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza

Shadow: Ryne Smith
Job: General Manager of Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza

As I sunk my teeth into the thick crust, the cheese melted in my mouth. As I tasted the richness of the sauce I couldn't think about anything being able to beat Giordano’s famous stuffed deep dish pizza! The brand garners frequent media coverage and continuously tops “Best Pizza” lists and dining guides. Giordano’s has been acclaimed “Chicago’s Best Pizza” by NBC, CBS Chicago, New York Times, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Eater, Home & Garden Magazine, Concierge Preferred and more! Statistics don’t lie — Giordano’s Pizza is the best pizza place in Chicago. It is constantly making headlines, both in Chicago and nationally, as the winner. I was able to shadow Ryne Smith, general manager of Giordano’s, and learn the recipe to their success.

A native Chicagoan, Ryne grew up with a deep love and appreciation for pizza. He got hired on at Giordano’s as a pizza delivery driver. Although, he quickly transitioned to chef extraordinaire when the demand for pizza was too great and the chef on staff needed help. Taking a cue from the chef, Ryne used his skills to help train other employees in pizza making. From there, Ryne was asked to be manager at Giordano’s and help maintain the order of the restaurant.

“My favorite thing is to make people happy through food.” ~ Ryne Smith

With Giordano’s being busy year round, Ryne has to make sure everything is up and running as a whole rather than in different parts. Whether a person is dining in, taking advantage of the bar service or ordering a pizza for pick-up or delivery, the restaurant has to be moving in a way that ends with the same delicious product. To ensure that happens, Ryne has spent hours learning every job within the restaurant. Employees that see Ryne pitching in no matter what the job resonates with them. It encourages employees to work harder since he takes the time to understand their effort. I was taken through the different roles of each person working at Giordano’s and ended in the kitchen where all the magic happens.

I was able to see the hard work that goes into making the secret sauce of Giordano’s as I worked in the pizza kitchen. It is obvious the restaurant is committed to only offering the highest quality and freshest ingredients. The pizza sauce comes from California grown tomatoes that are nurtured and carefully picked at just the right time to ensure the best taste. The pizzas are only topped with fresh Wisconsin mozzarella that is aged to perfection and freshly shredded in house every day to create the legendary rich, creamy, buttery taste. Similarly, the other ingredients come in fresh six times a week to have the best tasting produce on hand.

It was a delight getting to use the freshest ingredients to create my personal Chicago deep dish pizza. Similar to a cake pan, I used the “deep dish” to give the pizza its distinctive shape. After rubbing the pan with olive oil, I hand tossed the wheat and semolina flour dough and pushed it into the mold of the pan. This created the pizza’s famous bowl-like appearance. From there I assembled the toppings upside down from the usual way on a pizza. The order of a deep dish goes: crust, cheese, toppings, and then marinara sauce. Under the protection of the marinara sauce, all the savory ingredients team up to bring out the best in each other. The brilliance of the inversed order relies heavily on the cooking time, which is around 45 minutes. Chicago deep dish pizza takes longer to cook than normal pizza due to the thick crust.

I could taste the excellence of Giordano’s in each savory bite. The success of the restaurant all boils down to making each person who walks through the doors feel the same care put into making their pizzas. There is no wonder why people travel from all around the world to experience Giordano’s for themselves. I was able to understand the pride Ryne felt for working for such an acclaimed place that represents a cherished part of Chicago’s identity.

Learned Lessons:

  1. Take initiative to help before needed
  2. Understand each persons role and how they contribute as a whole
  3. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity
  4. Do work that inspires you to get up in the morning
  5. Savor every moment

Tips of the Trade:

“Working with people who actually care about their job makes it a whole lot more enjoyable rather than people who are just here to make money.” ~ Ryne Smith

“Know every job within your business. If you tell someone to do something you need to know how to do it.” ~ Ryne Smith

“I come in everyday loving my job and the environment I get to work in.” ~ Ryne Smith