Dough Heads, an independent Neapolitan style pizzeria, is launching at Bristol Spirit in Redfield on Wednesday January 20th. Founded by Jen Sankey, previously head chef at top Bristol pop-up Tsukemono, the pizzeria will initially be offering click & collect takeaway.
For opening hours and to order go to www.doughheads.co.uk.
Jen is a dough obsessive, and her years spent perfecting her recipes has resulted in our wonderful Neapolitan style sourdough pizzas and desserts. Her dough is made over four days, with a minimum fermentation period of 48 hours, leaving the pizza light, airy and bloody delicious!
Dough Heads prides themselves on sourcing ingredients from quality local Italian suppliers, using as sustainable methods as possible and avoiding food waste wherever we can.
Prior to launching Dough Heads, Jen was a chef at top Bristol pop-up Tsukemono for three years, as well as stints with the brilliant Bristol street food outfits Murray May’s and The Little Taquero, where she was chief tortilla maker. Her parents, brother and grandparents all worked in and owned pubs and restaurants - Jen has been learning to cook and run a kitchen for most of her life. We are very excited to bring Dough Heads to the good people of Bristol!
Sam Espensen, founder, Bristol Spirit & Espensen Spirit said; “I have been a big fan of Jen ever since she was in our kitchens with Tsukemono. We are so excited to have her launch Dough Heads from our kitchen, and even more excited about her bringing her wonderful pizza to BS5!”
Iris Hable and Adam Hartshorne, co-founder, Tsukemono, said “We were lucky enough to have Jen working with us at Tsukemono for three years. For someone with her talent and drive it was inevitable that she would eventually follow her own path. We can’t wait to see Dough Heads succeed.”
Q & A with Dough Heads Founder Jen Sankey
How many years have you been a chef? Where/when did you start, what sorts of food have you cooked, where did you work?
My grandparents, my parents and now my brother have all been publicans and restaurateurs, and I spent the majority of my childhood in and out of kitchens, usually stealing a scoop of ice cream on the go, running around the bar as a toddler getting into trouble, and as soon as I was old enough to work they had me pulling pints, de-bearding mussels and washing dishes - an invaluable initiation into the world of hospitality!
I have a vivid memory of watching the head chef at my parents’ seafood restaurant flambéing - at the time I thought he was setting fire to the kitchen! He talked me through what he was doing and why and it was his level of knowledge and enthusiasm that made me realise that this was what I wanted to do.
There’s something about the atmosphere of a pub or bar that makes me feel right at home, and I got this feeling the moment I walked through the doors of Bristol Spirit. I couldn’t think of anywhere better for Dough Heads to find its home.
Since flying the nest, I have worked in hotels and restaurants across the UK, a cool bar in the Alps where I slung my first pizza, a busy brunch spot in Melbourne’s city centre, a tap room in the heart of St Kilda, and most recently I entered the delicious world of Bristol’s street food scene.
Since moving to Bristol, I have spent three years working solely with street-fooders and developing a strong admiration for the work ethic, and the level of talent needed to make these operations run, not to mention the ridiculously delicious food. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some of the greats - Tsukemono and their mouthwatering Japanese street food, Murray May’s and their outstanding kebabs, and I was chief tortilla maker for The Little Taquero’s unrivaled tacos - yet another dough I’ve had the pleasure of learning to work with!
If there’s one thread that flows through all of the places I’ve worked at since starting out, it’s that they’re independent businesses with good quality delicious food at their heart. I’m staunchly for independent businesses and this is something that Bristol excels at. I have watched and admired the passion and hard work of small independent business owners and have felt privileged to work alongside them. When passion is there, you can taste it in the food and I hope people will taste this in Dough Heads’ pizza (and churros!).
Why pizza? What is your experience in this type of food? Why Neapolitan? What is your baking experience and how does it come to life at Dough Heads?
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll say that pizza has always been my favourite food, and just ask my girlfriend, she says pizza is all I talk about (even before I started my Dough Heads journey!). I’ve really enjoyed drawing on all of my culinary knowledge and experience and really exploring the mechanics of how dough works. Experimenting, playing and learning about different cultures, hydrations and methods of dough-making has taken me right back to the feeling of being a child in my family’s kitchen, learning about why things work all over again.
What inspired your menu? How did you choose which toppings and ingredients?
I could chat for hours about why I think Neapolitan style pizza is the tastiest, why I chose the many different toppings I did and how I reached my perfect dough hydration, but if one thing has become clear to me in my years working in kitchens it’s that the best flavours are achieved when you make the food you want to eat. Quite simply, my menu is a list of my favourite things, my favourite flavours and food I could eat again and again and again...
Where do you source your cheese from? And your tomatoes? (These are important pizza questions!).
After the dough, the base of every pizza begins with a good cheese and some first rate tomatoes. For me there was no other choice than Fior Di Latte cheese and San Marzano tomatoes, both of which have been sourced and supplied by respected local Italian suppliers.
San Marzano DOP tomatoes are sweet Italian plum tomatoes grown solely in the foothills of Mount Vesuvius, where the rich fertile soil coupled with the sea air create tomatoes so special that they can’t be recreated anywhere else.
We smoke all our own olives and oils in-house over sustainably sourced maple wood chips, giving them a smokey and earthy flavour that really enhances the pizza, as well as marinating our own fresh anchovies to create our yummy side dish of spicy anchovies.
Some people would say you are mad opening up during a pandemic - what would you say to that?
Some may say I’m mad for opening Dough Heads during a pandemic, but how are we to get through this without pizza!? I know I couldn’t! Plus, the pandemic has taught me to take life by the horns, and if you want something to do it. Now is as good a time as any to step out on your own and do what makes you happy. For me, happiness = pizza.