Mike Cegielski was in love with pizza from a very early age. As a young toddler his parents would often take the family to Due’s Pizza, a legendary Chicago deep dish pizza restaurant. Young Cegielski instantly made an impression on the waitstaff. As his dear mother Janice explained, “When the servers would walk towards our table with the pizza Mike would let out a noise that I can only describe as a crescendo! He would let out this loud wail that only got louder and louder. He was not misbehaving, he just simply could not contain the excitement he found in seeing the freshly baked pies come out of the kitchen and to his table!”
As the years went by and Cegielski grew into a young man, he often made pilgrimages to various Chicagoland pizza joints on a quest to try them all as each restaurant had their own “secret recipe” or “special family technique” on making deep dish pizza. Mike was obsessed. He loved the pie like qualities, its thickness, the punch of pure tomatoes and the way the cheese was layered in perfect harmony. Few things excited him as the day after a visit to one of these establishments only to find several left over slices in the refrigerator as it was a tradition to order much more food than you needed for the meal. One famous story of Mike Cegielski lore is that he brought a deep dish pizza for a girlfriend to try. She ate the pizza but threw the crust in the garbage. An irritated Cegielski retrieved the crust only to consume it later that day. This is truly a man who loves Chicago-style pizza with all of his heart and he takes it very seriously.
Fast forward several more years and Mike Cegielski found his way down to New Orleans, Louisiana. The atmosphere, the music, the history, and of course the food brought him down South where he still lives and raises his family. It might look like he had it all. A beautiful and devoted wife, a wonderful son, a couple of dogs and some amazing friends but alas something was missing. That something was pizza. Not just any old pizza, Chicago-style pizza! After getting caught in airport security several times with multiple frozen pizzas in his suitcase while returning to New Orleans from Chicago, Cegielski decided to take matters into his own hands. He was already an accomplished home cook, so why not try his hand at making his own version of Chicago-style pizza.
After experimenting with many different recipes and trolling internet chat rooms devoted to the subject to help sprout some ideas, he finally felt that he had created a pizza worthy of being called “Chicago-style.” He presented this pizza to family and friends on holidays and at parties. Soon people spoke up and told him he had to try to sell this pizza! There was a local farmer’s market nearby and it was only $15 to have a booth. He jumped at the opportunity and figured if he did not sell any pizza he could invite a bunch of friends over and have a pizza party. He sold out his first week at the market! Cegielski returned a week later with more pies and sold out again. His contact base grew. Special orders started coming in. He knew in his mind that the farmer’s market scene could not get him to where he wanted to be.
Cegielski started calling on New Orleans bars and restaurants to see if they would try offering his pizza as a special once a week. There was a specific legendary establishment that Mike really wanted to have offer his pizza to the public, Buffa’s Bar and Restaurant right outside the world famous French Quarter located on the gorgeous Esplanade Avenue. The owners loved the pizza and Cegielski and Buffa’s joined forces in May 2012 and are now offering Chicago Mike’s Deep Dish Pizza every Monday night.
Whether you call Mike for a special order or you visit Buffa’s on a Monday night, you will have the delight that is an authentic deep dish pizza made with love, care, and respect for the tradition of Chicago pizza!