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Pizza Pioneer Ed LaDou Dies at 52

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Ed LaDou, the father of modern California-style pizza, has died of cancer at age 52 in Santa Monica. LaDou is best known for his work at Wolfgang Puck's legendary Spago; LaDou was the first to experiment with unusual and innovative pizza toppings like duck and smoked salmon, and he also helped develop the menu for the casual dining chain California Pizza Kitchen. From The LA Times:

"Ed really set the tone for the pizza," said Mark Peel, a former chef at Spago who now owns Campanile in Los Angeles. "Wolfgang had a great sense of taste, but he was not a pizza maker by any means. Ed was highly skilled, fast and clean; he was an intelligent guy who made a great, great crust. There are people who have built empires on less." By most accounts, the history of the California pizza begins with Alice Waters and her Chez Panisse in Berkeley, with its wood-burning pizza oven and exotic toppings. But LaDou was a player in some of pizza's key innovations.

LaDou continued to make a name for himself at Caioti Pizza Cafe in Studio City, where he served up three styles of pizza: Old World, New World, and New York Style. The restaurant is also known for a salad that is purported to induce labor in pregnant women,
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a curious phenomenon that LAist documented just last month. Menu of Caioti Pizza Cafe
Recipe for Spago's Signature Smoked Salmon & Caviar Pizza

Photo from the Caioti Pizza Cafe website.