The Square Pie Guys crew is no stranger to a high-profile pizza collab; owners Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter have previously worked with basketball icon Jeremy Lin and star chef Samin Nosrat in the name of charity, and now they’ve tapped Top Chef winner Melissa King for their latest pie slice, dubbed “the King’s Pie.”
King is a self-proclaimed “pizza purist” who likes to keep things simple with her pizza. For her Detroit-style pizza, she wanted pepperoni cups with mushrooms “for a great earthy addition.” But she also wanted to add some heat and spice while incorporating herself and her background as a Chinese American, so, with the Square Pie Guys team, she helped develop a Szechuan chili honey that gets drizzled atop the red-sauced pizza; along with the aforementioned pepperoni and mushrooms, grana padano cheese and parsley are also incorporated along with pickled peppers for some additional heat. “I think she’s the type of chef and the type of person that really respects all the ingredients and understands that simple can be better in a lot of situations,” says Schechter of King.” It doesn’t need to be something over the top.”
The resulting Szechuan chili honey was such a hit for King and the guys that they incorporated it into one other item, the King Wings, which are twice-fried chicken wings tossed in the spicy-sweet mixture, and could potentially wind up on the permanent menu. King says the wings were “a little development that sort of happened organically as we were excited about the things we were creating together.”
Schechter says King has been on a list of sought-after collaborators and once he saw King post a photo of their pizza on her Instagram, the guys decided to shoot their shot with the popular chef. The collaboration took place over a number of months this spring and summer as Square Pie Guys worked to find a pizza they were all satisfied with; there were dabblings in a chili crisp pizza, or a chili crisp aioli, Schechter says, before they landed on incorporating the spice through honey. They delivered some early prototypes to King’s home for feedback, with King eventually making her way into the pizza kitchen to help tweak the final recipe for the pizza. “It was fun to get in the kitchen and be with them and pick their brains and how we can improve thing, little nuances that only maybe we noticed that the general public may not notice,” King says. “But there was this level of excellence that we’re all trying to hit together and I found us to all be on the same page from day one.”
“The King’s Pie” will run from Friday, September 30 to January 2, with three percent of proceeds from the pizza going toward the La Cocina organization, a small business incubator centered on immigrants and women of color, and the organization’s food hall in the Tenderloin that supports those businesses.