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Piece Pizza and celebrity chef Rick Bayless team up to benefit PAWS Chicago

Foodie Friday: Piece Pizza and Rick Bayless raise money for PAWS Chicago
Foodie Friday: Piece Pizza and Rick Bayless raise money for PAWS Chicago 03:09

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Wicker Park pizzeria is raising money for PAWS Chicago animal shelter, and celebrity chef Rick Bayless is offering his secret recipe.

Piece Pizza, Bayless, and PAWS Chicago are teaming up for a benefit to raise money to help animals in need, and increase dog and cat adoptions, focusing on dogs that have been in the PAWS shelter long-term.

At the center of it is the Bayless Family Pizza recipe.

Digital Journalist Jamaica Ponder popped on in to try a slice of his pie and to find out how a local pizza shop is working to support and protect our city's furry friends.

"Piece approached us, and they came to us with this idea of promoting long-term animals, and then also a giveback to PAWS with every one of these specialty pizzas ordered," said PAWS Chicago CEO Susanna Wickham.

The team at Piece Pizza had been supporters of PAWS Chicago's work for some time before proposing the fundraiser, and saw an opportunity to use their kitchen as a way to advocate for the city's animals, catching the attention of cat-lover and celebrity chef Rick Bayless.

"When they got this idea to do this particular fundraiser here at Piece Pizza, I thought, 'Man, I'm in, because I have something that I can offer that's a unique creation, but also it goes for a really good cause,'" Bayless said.

Paws Chicago operates a homeless pet hospital year-round in Little Village, with eight full-time veterinarians and about 40 veterinary technicians.

"It is an expensive operation to fund, but we're the only ones in the Midwest who have this capacity to do to operate a hospital that helps the pets that nobody else can save," Wickham said.

PAWS also runs a pet adoption center in Lincoln Park, open seven days a week to help dogs and cats find their forever homes.

To support PAWS, the Bayless Family Pizza recipe will be a guest star on the Piece Pizza menu through April 9, with $10 from every pie sold going to PAWS, and on every pizza box going out the door there's a sticker featuring a different long-term shelter dog ready to be adopted.

"It gets the word out in a way that is fun and exciting, and who can't help by ordering a pizza," Wickham said.

The fundraiser comes at an essential time of year, when donations tend to be lower for non-profit organizations, PAWS being no exception.

"If we can have a good first quarter, that makes a big difference in us being able to predict how many animals we can take in, what level of service we can give," Wickham said. "We are 100% funded by donations. So we really need the attention all year long because we are saving pets day in, day out, seven days a week."

Naturally, Bayless and Ponder had to sit down to try his famous family pizza.

"This is a family recipe that we've developed over like 30 years, and it started off as a grilled pizza, went to a big pizza, and now it's at Piece pizza," he said. "The cool thing about this really has to do with the fact that this pizza really does reflect a lot of what I'm known for, but does it in a pizza way.

"Literally, if you come to my house in the summertime, I'm going to serve you this pizza," he added.

The Bayless Family Pizza is made with roasted tomatillo salsa, crispy bacon, red onion, goat cheese, pepperjack, cilantro, and jalapenos. 

"We can give them something delicious and do good at the same time," Bayless said.

You can grab a Piece Pizza by delivery or in-house at their Wicker Park location.

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