For the past three years at Long-Bell Restaurant in Lee’s Summit, co-owners Jayson Eggers and Aaron Mulder have been working on their specialty: Kansas City-style pizza.
"We haven’t really seen it anywhere else other than typical Chicago style,” Eggers says.
Eggers and Mulder’s pizza recipe differs from other regional pies like New York-style and Chicago-style pizzas because of the dough and the crust. The dough at Long-Bell is made to order and mixed the night before.
Once the dough is ready, Mulder works on stretching the dough and keeping an even consistency. Next, Mulder places the cheese, toppings and sauce on the dough. Then, like in a Chicago-style pizza: the sauce goes on top.
“It’s going to kind of spread out throughout the pizza,” Eggers says. “What it does when you eat the pizza is you can actually pick it up and all your toppings won’t slide off.”
Mulder bakes the pizza at a high temperature — around 575 to 600 degrees — for about five minutes. Eggers said cooking it at a higher temperature than normal pizza gives it a crispier texture that differentiates it from New York-style pizza. Once the pizza comes out of the oven, Eggers brushes a mixture of olive oil, garlic and herbs onto the crust.
To ensure the pie is ready, Eggers said he places his hand on the bottom and picks it up. If the whole pie stays put and doesn’t fold, then it passes the Kansas City-style pizza test. What results, Eggers said, is a crunchy bottom and crust with a fluffy inside.
“The pieces support themselves — they stay up when you eat it, it’s got that crispiness on the bottom,” he said. “It’s still fluffy when biting through the dough itself. Really, it’s a combination of everything we liked put together.”
Combining pizza traditions
Before he met Mulder in Kansas City, Eggers grew up in northern California, went to culinary school and then worked at a California restaurant cooking wood-fired pizzas.
While Mulder did not go to culinary school, he worked a short stint at a local Papa John’s after college that he said made him want to learn more about making pizza.
“I always liked to cook when I was growing up,” Mulder said. “I was the oldest sibling and had to watch my younger siblings a lot. So it was a lot of learning how to cook by needing to cook.”
Mulder and Eggers met for the first time when they worked together at Westport Ale House. When they learned of a space opening up in Lee’s Summit in 2015, they decided to embrace the idea of making their own distinctive pizza.
“Between us saying, ‘Yeah let’s do a pizza restaurant’ to us having our first open day was under three months,” Mulder said.
When Eggers and Mulder began developing their pizza recipe, they ultimately knew what they wanted the end result to taste like.
“I came in going like, ‘Crispy crust, I want crispy crust,’” Mulder said.
Eggers said he and Mulder approached the pizza with a chef’s eye, with the hopes that the pizza they create reflects their tastes.
“It needs to be fresh, it needs to be really good, and it needs to be approachable and not totally insane,” Eggers said. “But I think we kind of nailed it when we came up with what we came up with.”
Celisa Calacal is an intern at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at @celisa_mia.