When Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson met Italian chef Daniele Uditi at one of Chris O’Donnell’s legendary pizza nights, it was a match made in mozzarella heaven. “Daniele had wanted to meet me, and I had wanted to meet him,” explains Nelson of the Naples-born pizzaiolo, who has worked as a private chef for Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Garner. Candace and her husband, Charles, have always loved pizza, so when they decided to open Pizzana (11712 W. San Vicente Blvd., L.A.), a 45-seat, Neapolitan-style pizzeria in Brentwood, Uditi and O’Donnell made perfect sense as chef and partner, respectively. Candace is plenty busy with her rapidly expanding empire (22 Sprinkles locations and counting!) and the recent release of The Sprinkles Baking Book ($26, Grand Central Life & Style). However, she’s committed to making Pizzana the perfect blend of Neapolitan tradition and California culture. Case in point: In lieu of gelato, the restaurant will offer Sprinkles ice cream. Delizioso!
Why did you decide to compile a Sprinkles cookbook?
I wanted a cookbook that was more than just cupcakes and reflects how Sprinkles has evolved. I grew up baking all sorts of classic desserts, so the book is a window into me personally.
You included recipes from celebs like Julia Roberts. How did that come about?
Sprinkles has a reputation of being a celebrity favorite; after all, Sprinkles was born and raised in L.A. Plus, we have had charitable ambassadors such as Blake Lively and Jessica Alba, and I wanted to honor that.
Neapolitan pizza is a departure from cupcakes. What appealed to you about opening a pizzeria?
Cupcakes and pizza are both delicious; they are both handheld; and they are both a greedy indulgence. Plus, Charles and I have always been obsessed with pizza.
What is so special about Daniele Uditi?
He is rooted in Neapolitan tradition and very strict about using slow-rising dough—but he is also open to ingredients that appeal to Californians. One of our pizzas, The Mexicano, features chorizo, queso fresco and jalapenos. Now that flies in the face of tradition!
Your first Sprinkles location was in Beverly Hills. Why did you choose Brentwood for Pizzana?
There is a need in Brentwood for a fun, chic restaurant that is family-friendly and not going to break the bank.
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