Someone You Should Know: Watertown Man Indulges In Pizza, Earns National Recognition

When we think of amazing pizza, places like Chicago, New York and, of course, Italy come to mind. But one restaurant family is trying to put South Dakota on the map when it comes to good pie. KDLT’s Jill Johnson shows us why one Watertown man is ‘Someone You Should Know’.

Dempsey’s Brewery, Pub & Restaurant in Watertown got its roots in 2009.

Bill Dempsey said, “I wanted to build a castle, and this is about as close as I could come.”

Bill says he wanted to build a place with great food and brews, but their frozen brick pizza just wasn’t cutting it.

“We wanted the best ingredients. We wanted the best product and we wanted to do what we did well,” said Bill.

In 2014, Bill decided to send his son to Tony Gemignani’s International School of Pizza in California. They invested in a $20,000 oven and built a room in the restaurant to house it.

Sean Dempsey said, “We started making all of our own dough, started cold aging it, started finding all of these cool ingredients, and it’s really worked out well for us.”

Sean says he’s now the only certified pizzaiolo in the state.

“Slowly holding one end and twisting on the other,” said Sean making the dough to a pizza .”This dough has been sitting out for probably about three hours so it’s got a nice rise on her.” Sean said, “I’m not really super big on throwing my dough. I don’t really like stretching out the middle because that’s always the weakest part.”

He estimates that he’s made around 60,000.

“Grande is made in Wisconsin. It’s a low moisture Mozzarella,” said Sean. “We had to actually get rights to get this into the state.”
Sean said, “The pepperonis, they’re called cupping pepperonis. They’re a little smaller than normal, but they cup up.”

And they’re not just any pizzas, they’re award winning.

Sean said, “I look for different flours. I look for things that people aren’t doing or things I do really well and I take that and I just practice over and over and over until I can make a pizza in my sleep, until I can make that exact dough in my sleep and then I work from there.”

Sean recently traveled to Las Vegas to compete among the best of the best, recreating this masterpiece on the road.

“Alright, let’s pull her out. And she looks pretty good. The oil is starting to break on top, but not too heavy,” said Sean.

He was awarded for the best two-topping traditional pizza in the northwest.

Sean said, “They’re (the judges are) looking for things like your crust didn’t get dark enough, if your bottom’s burned. With this one, they’re going to be looking at gluten so when you pull apart your dough in here and you look at it., they’re looking for bubbles. They’re looking to make sure you don’t have any gum lines, your dough’s done.”

Among 60 competitors, Sean placed 10th overall.

“To think where we were ten years ago from where we are now,” said Sean. “Once you figure out exactly what you want to do and you find it and then you actually start working with it, I mean, it really comes out in the sauce, it comes out in the dough, it comes out in whatever your passion is. I mean, it took us miles,” said Sean.

Sean isn’t just winning awards, his passion is paying off at the restaurant too. People come from all over to sample his pie.

Sean said, “It’s just a universally wonderful food. I mean, it’s in every median, and I don’t know too many people who dislike pizza.”

Sean will be headed to Atlantic City in October to test his skills again. He says to bring home the gold would really shock the world and for others to start looking at South Dakota as a pizza mecca.

Categories: Local News, News, South Dakota, Watertown-imported

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