Stephen Lanzalota, the baker behind Slab Pizza, has died on the age of 63

Stephen Lanzalotta in entrance of the previous public market constructing in Portland in 2013, earlier than opening Slab Sicilian Road Meals. Gordon Chibroski / full-time photographer

Stephen Lanzalotta was finest generally known as a baker – particularly the one behind the Sicilian-style pizza that gained followers when he was supervisor of a bakery at Micucci Grocery and have become the spine of Portland’s Slab restaurant.

However individuals who knew him properly describe him as an artist.

Lanzalota, 63, died on Saturday after battling most cancers for years. Moreover being a baker, he was a carpenter, oil artist and creator, in addition to father, enterprise supervisor and pal.

“Mainly, every thing he touched turned to gold,” mentioned his daughter, Shaya Lansalotta.

Emily Kingsbury, one in every of his enterprise companions at Slab, mentioned Lanzalote was very private and didn’t need individuals to find out about his well being issues. When prospects requested for it, Kingsbury mentioned he was out, however can be again quickly sufficient to make the dough. Though he had stopped working on the restaurant 4 years in the past, he nonetheless got here on occasion to make the dough, “simply because he appreciated it,” she mentioned.

Initially from Waterford, Connecticut, Lanzalote moved to Maine along with his then-wife and three youngsters in 1991 to stay near hosts and authors Helen and Scott Niring. There he discovered many expertise, together with woodworking and baking, and opened his first bakery in Blue Hill. Round 2000, his household moved to Portland, the place he lived for the remainder of his life.

Lanzalotta opened Sophia’s, a Market Road bakery that additionally housed the Due Gallery – Italian for “two” – which reveals oil work of him and his pal Jan Issue. After closing, he received up the supervisor of Micucci’s bakery, the place his Sicilian pizza developed its personal buyer base.

Lanzalotta made pizza dough at Micucci’s in 2007. Doug Jones / full-time photographer

Lanzalote was fired in 2013 for what he described on the time as “exceeding my limits” in advocating for promotions and fuller working weeks for bakery assistants underneath my management and recommending modifications to the shop to enhance site visitors workflow ‘. A debate ensued over who might use his well-known pizza recipe. This 12 months he teamed up with a gaggle of Portland restaurateurs for the creation of Slab Sicilian Road Meals, the place his recipes stay.

“Our complete purpose right here at Slab is to proceed his legacy and the meals he prepares, and we proceed to take action in his honor,” Kingsbury mentioned.

She remembered the primary time she noticed Lanzalote making pizza.

“He was so excited. He has all the time been so excited to bake and feed individuals. And you already know, it was actually thrilling after we first opened, “she mentioned.

Susan LaVerdier first met Lanzalote in Slab’s kitchen, the summer time she opened, and so they quickly turned pals.

“He taught us the precision and the artwork of creating dough, and we spent many, many days studying the recipes,” mentioned LaVerdier. “He was very detail-oriented, very intense in his want for meals authenticity, and so it was a really thrilling studying course of.”

When Slab first moved into the previous public market constructing in Portland, Lanzalota surprised her colleagues along with her intricate handicrafts, portray and sculpting a wall within the new house. He dealt with the identical care and ability as he did his dough.

“The whole lot he touched was an artwork kind,” LaVerdier mentioned.

The chef was stuffed with surprises, she mentioned, recalling how she watched him carry out martial arts.

“He did very, very positive and sluggish, I believe it was Tai Chi, possibly actions, after which he hit or kicked and I bear in mind kicking the freezer,” LaVerdier mentioned. “It was so shocking as a result of he was so sleek and delicate. He was a dancer. “

Lanzalotta turned a printed creator in 2006 when he wrote The Food regimen Code, a e-book on weight reduction that makes use of mathematical rules to clarify his recommendation and philosophy of wholesome consuming.

“He is the one particular person I do know who actually embodies genius – like, his thoughts was so, so many ranges of fascinating depths,” LaVerdier mentioned. “I’ve by no means met anybody like him in my total life.”

As gifted as he’s in baking, woodworking and portray, his daughter mentioned he’s much more outstanding as an individual.essentially the most genuine and true human being I’ve ever identified, “mentioned Shaya Lanzalotta. “If he might enhance the world in a greater approach, he would attempt to do it with everybody he is available in contact with.

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