Hanging out with Andrew W.K. at Chicago’s pizza summit | By Joseph Hernandez | Chicago Tribune
There are few reliable sources of joy in this world. Pizza is one of them,” musician Andrew W.K. told an enthusiastic crowd from behind a pizza-shaped podium before they erupted into chants of “Pizza! Pizza!”
That was the scene Sunday, April 3, when some 900 pizza lovers descended upon Wicker Park’s Chop Shop 1st Ward to eat their fill of crust, cheese and countless other toppings.
The venue, home to the inaugural Chicago Pizza Summit, hosted 11 local pizza purveyors over two sessions: Boiler Room, Dante’s Pizzeria, Flo & Santos, Pie-Eyed Pizzeria, Santullo’s Eatery, Lou Malnati’s, Dimo’s, Gino’s East, Connie’s Pizza, Home Run Inn and Taco in a Bag. Slices on offer included Gino’s East’s roasted pork with pastor sauce, pineapple, and onion; Flo & Santos’ Polish sausage with sauerkraut; and Pie-Eyed’s braised pork belly with hoisin BBQ sauce and cheese curds, while Lincoln Square’s Taco in a Bag brought the novelty with a crowd-pleasing pizza-in-a-bag. Tickets included five cans of Old Style beer, because you can’t have pizza without suds.
Unlike similar events of its size, the Pizza Summit was energetic without feeling crowded. “We wanted the vibe of the event to feel just like 10 of your best friends came over and everyone just ordered their favorite pizza,” said Brent Heyl, producer with Empty Bottle Presents, organizers of the summit along with Old Style Beer.
It was made all the more convivial with W.K., the event’s master of ceremonies. After the self-proclaimed King of Partying’s speech, we had the opportunity to chat with him about pizza — which became, surprisingly, a discussion about philosophy much deeper than even a Chicago-style pie.
Joseph Hernandez: How did you prepare yourself for today’s event?
Andrew W.K.: “Pizza is one of those things that is so prevalent and surrounds us wherever we are, that it’s easy to take for granted until you don’t have it. It’s like holding your breath for three minutes, and when you finally take a breath, there’s that feeling of relief. That’s what it felt like walking in here today. I intentionally abstained before getting here, so that I could enjoy all this pizza more. It’s like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry.”