In this episode of the podcast, we speak to Mike of Mike’s Pizza Kitchen and get an inside look into Chengdu’s most beloved expat eatery.
It’s safe to say if you live in Chengdu, you have probably interacted with Mike, the pizza-tossing maven responsible for Chengdu’s finest pizzas. And if you’ve interacted with Mike, I’m willing to bet you have a opinion of him. Whether on Internet forums, on the phone, or in person, Mike seems to leave an impression on people.
His pizza business – which started as a delivery-only operation run out of an apartment and now supports a brick and mortar establishment – is without a doubt a great success, but it’s not without its detractors. Mike has faced accusations online of being rude and short of temper. Others have told stories online of personally witnessing outbursts. And if you were only to read his website in full – a website that sports a 2,500+ word FAQ section – you might think the man was slightly deranged, if not also a sort of brilliant writer.
But we know few people who could tell me they’ve sat down and had coffee with the man and heard his side of things. Tired of hearsay and snippets and stories, we arranged a meeting with Chengdu’s pizza patriarch to talk pizza, fairy tales, police, and principles. If you have a opinion on the man, his pizza, or the state of Western cuisine in Chengdu, this one’s for you.
Discussed in this podcast:
- The history of pizza in Chengdu
- Where Mike made pizza before starting Mike’s Pizza Kitchen
- Mike’s pizza inspiration
- Mike’s history with China and Chengdu
- When MPK was a delivery-only operation
- Run-ins with the cops
- The advantages of starting a food business in Chengdu versus other Chinese cities
- Mike’s incredible website (and the 2600+ word FAQ section)
- The fairy tale naming convention for Mike’s pizzas
- Sourcing ingredients in China
- Mike’s New York pizza trip (Di Fara Pizza)
- Discipline, hygiene, and outbursts
- Advice to foreigners trying to enter the food services industry in China
- Johnny 5’s Donuts, Redbeard Burgers and Mike’s relationship to them
- Other desired cuisine in Chengdu (Dan visited the Vietnamese place mentioned at the end of the podcast, ???, located in Tongzilin, and it’s really nothing to get too excited about. Sorry.)
- How to get a sandwich named after you
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If you have any comments or feedback on this podcast or on topics you’d like us to discuss in the future, leave a comment below. If you enjoy the podcast, please share it! We look forward to recording more of these and continuing to chronicle and share the story of life in Chengdu.