Rolf Ferenczy – a pizza baker out of passion
When on the 30th of September 2017 Rolf Ferenczy and his wife Renate said goodbye for the last time to the patrons of their ‘Gasthaus Am See’ in Kitzingen, it marked the end of a long success story. 40 years ago Rolf‘s parents bought the restaurant, which had opened in 1951. Rolf himself worked at and eventually ran the ‘Gasthaus Am See’ for more than 30 years and became known for one specialty above all: pizza. “I was the first in the restaurant at seven in the morning and the last to leave at night. Nothing could keep me from rolling my own dough,” recalls the ardent pizza baker.
The moment he joined the family business in the mid-1980s, Rolf Ferenczy became an avid fan of FRITSCH technology. More specifically, the ROLLFIX dough sheeter. The first ROLLFIX came out as early as 1956, and has since become a true classic among dough sheeters. So much so that, in fact, many bakers will refer to any sheeter as a ROLLFIX. Rolf Ferenczy is one of them. He describes working on it like so: “By some stage, you’ve got the hang of it and the motions are in your blood, like a born-and-bred baker. The kind who can measure dough to ten grams by feel alone. You take the dough and sheet it out a little. Then you press it down until it is about the size of a plate, and sheet it again through the machine. That way it gets its even surface and thickness. The ROLLFIX was forever set on three, and the gear also set in the one position. And all the while, you keep turning the dough lengthwise and sideways so that the pizza keeps its round shape. Then you place it on the tray and trim the edge with a knife. It’s all very quick,” Rolf cheerfully explains as if it were child’s play. “With the ROLLFIX, you don’t need a lot of flour to stop the dough from sticking.”
Rolf was soon put to the test on how efficiently he could work with the ROLLFIX. In the 1980s, the US Army was still stationed in Kitzingen, and the troops would swarm into his restaurant every day. Then there were the regulars, who kept their permanently reserved tables dependably occupied for a good part of the week, and on holidays like Kirchweih the ‘Gasthaus Am See’ would be packed without fail. That meant the pizzas had to be baked fast. “There were five ladies in the restaurant at the time, sheeting pizza by hand. We served around 200 pizzas a day. We held a little competition and did a baking race: five women against the ROLLFIX. By the time the five ladies had each sheeted a pizza, I had already rolled six pizzas on the machine by myself,” Rolf recounts. Looking back on it, the efficiency with which he could sheet out pizza bases in next to no time, and keep his patrons served with fresh pizzas even when the restaurant was packed, still thrills him to this day. But it was not just the business that improved thanks to the FRITSCH ROLLFIX; the culinary quality of the pizzas also increased. Rolf puts that down most of all to its particularly even and gentle sheeting of the dough. “When producing by machine, you can guarantee uniform baking time because the dough has uniform thickness. You don’t get that with a rolling pin. For each pizza sheeted out, we had a baking time of seven minutes,” Rolf explains. Uniform dough thickness for all pizzas ensures no isolated patches would become burnt or soggy.
How much pizza dough do we think Rolf might have processed on his ROLLFIX over 30 years? He puts it at more than 30 kilograms per day. So… that adds up to a fair few tons, then. But it’s not just the quantity that counts; it’s also the quality because only through quality can inventive pizza bakers such as Rolf Ferenczy turn curious customers into true regulars. For its individual and authentic recipes, the ‘Gasthaus Am See’ became a regional institution. “When we took over, we had only three pizzas: salami, ham, and peperoni sausage. There was a choice of with or without mushrooms. They were seasoned with tabasco. That’s what we inherited from our predecessors,” he tells. Working from this American-influenced recipe, he produced especially spicy and crispy pizza doughs. And before Marketing ever became such a big machine, he and some former classmates had invented ‘Frankish Pizza’, with creations like the ‘Versaute’, the ‘messed up’. They got the idea during a class reunion – which was dragging on, as they do. A friend asked him, couldn’t he perhaps make pizza for everyone? “Bung everything on it. Make a real mess of it,” was the order. And thus the ‘Versaute’ was created – with onion, garlic, peperoni, salami and a couple of other ingredients. Because Renate Ferenczy loved to add sweet pepper and olives as well, her version was christened the ‘Schäffin’ – Frankish for ‘lady boss’. “The names were the best marketing,” laughs Rolf. His favorite pizza, the ‘Teufel’, was topped with jalapeños. And, throughout all these years, what drove him on was his ‘Passion For Dough’. “I cook with a passion, which is why the customers always loved the food and our business never had to shut its doors. Not even during bad times. And, you know? I’m not even a trained chef, nor am I Italian, but I might just be the finest pizza baker,” Rolf says with a wink.
„I cook with a passion, which is why the customers always loved the food and our business never had to shut its doors. Not even during bad times. And, you know? I’m not even a trained chef, nor am I Italian, but I might just be the finest pizza baker.“
For as long as he lives, Rolf will never forget his first encounter with the Fritsch family. Anna-Maria Fritsch, the current boss of marketing and process management, was still just a baby. Her father, Klaus Fritsch, sat with his family in Rolf’s pizzeria happily enjoying a pizza. As a man of the trade, he asked Rolf Ferenczy how he prepared his pizzas. Without knowing who was sitting there, Rolf sang high praises of this phenomenal machine: the ROLLFIX. Klaus Fritsch asked if he could take a look. Rolf was working on an overhauled machine, and of course Klaus Fritsch could instantly say to his wife what exact model it was. He then turned to Rolf Ferenczy and, raising a laugh out of all three, introduced himself as the owner of FRITSCH. Later, on a visit to FRITSCH’s factories, Rolf had the chance to experience up close and personal where his ROLLFIX came from. “I admire what the FRITSCH technicians have inside their heads. It is amazing that someone can think up such a technology,” he professes all these years later.
Rolf still gushes over his ROLLFIX to this day. The dough sheeter on which he worked so well and so fast was true to him from his first to his last day as a pizza baker. “How useful this machine was for me, I told Klaus Fritch at the time. Our kitchen might have been a bit old, but it was always squeaky clean. Just like the ROLLFIX, which ran faultlessly for 30 years. That’s phenomenal quality,” the passionate pizza baker exclaims. And, for anyone else living out their ‘Passion For Dough’ on their own dough sheeters, he has a good tip. “I bought myself a professional vacuum cleaner, like the ones at the service stations back then. I vacuumed the machine with it every evening. After that, everywhere flour had got to, it was sparkling clean again. I never once had to twiddle on the couplings of that machine. On the last day, it was on exactly the same setting as when we first got it,” Rolf laughs again. “The only thing we did change once was a V-belt. That’s just normal wear, like on a car. Otherwise, the ROLLFIX never broke down.”
Since October 2017, Rolf Ferenczy and his wife have been enjoying their well-earned retirement. For his used ROLLFIX, however, the shift is not over. Today, the dough sheeter is probably somewhere in Romania, still going strong. “My brother sold the machine over eBay. A young Romanian paid 1,200 euros for it. He came with a Mercedes Sprinter and loaded the machine onto it. I even gave him the spare scraper belt,” Rolf relates. Maybe right now, somewhere in southeastern Europe, someone is enjoying a good thin crust pizza whose dough was produced on his old FRITSCH ROLLFIX.
The FRITSCH ROLLFIX
Because the performance and automation requirements in the bakery are varied, the FRITSCH ROLLFIX is available in several versions today. Some special models with advanced abilities - such as molding or cutting - complete the model range. So there is just the right thing for every need - this makes the ROLLFIX a classic among bakery machines for both the traditional craft bakery and the pizza maker. Despite all the differences in detail, all models benefit from the many advantages that the ROLLFIX owes its good name. First and foremost is the extremely gentle handling of the dough for the highest quality. In addition, the ROLLFIX stands up to the toughest demands thanks to its sturdy construction and impresses with its practical quick belt tensioning and the open stainless steel profiles with high ease of cleaning.
To the ROLLFIX family