Candy Yiu spent her ninth month of pregnancy building a mosaic on the Malka patio.
Yiu was one of the owners of the maximalist Southeast Division restaurant, though she didn’t take much space in the spotlight. She was a fan of chefs Jessie Aron and Colin McArthur since their food cart days, making crispy rice salads as Carte Blanche. Yiu wanted to invest in them, and helped the two chefs open their restaurant while she worked in the tech industry. The restaurant opened as an otherworldly converted home, filled with art and plants and antiques and mismatched chairs. When Malka closed, she couldn’t bring herself to get rid of the space.
“I tried to rent it,” she says. “But hearing people wanting to tear down everything we did, I just couldn’t do it.”
So Yiu decided to invest in a personal passion and keep the house in the family. The Malka space will become the Turning Peel, a sourdough pizzeria serving pies topped with seasonal produce.
The Turning Peel was born out of the pandemic. Like many, Yiu started experimenting with sourdough in the early days of 2020, growing bored with the tech industry and feeling lost. “Dough is like a therapist,” she says. “It felt so good to make bread.” What started as loaves eventually turned into pizzas — sturdier than the typical Neapolitan, with a nice balance of crunch and chew, in her words. When she was laid off, she decided to pursue sourdough full-time, landing a spot at the People’s Co-Op farmers market.
For the nerds out there: Yiu slow-leavens her 64 percent-hydration dough for a whopping three days, eventually throwing the pies in an 800-degree oven for around 90 seconds. In terms of toppings, she likes to stay simple — pepperoni, margherita — and incorporate local produce. For example, her “summer splash” pizza comes with rotating seasonal vegetables depending on what’s available, which she roasts beforehand; a previous iteration arrived topped with garlic oil, cherries, roasted cherry tomatoes, morels, yellow zucchini, beets, and corn. Beyond the actual pizzas, the menu will include a salad and, in her words, “a real bombshell tiramisu.”
Yiu wants to try to keep prices low for meals; for example, she plans to price her margherita at $12, serving it as a part of a combo with a beverage — beer, wine, basic cocktails — for around $16 or $17. “People can just enjoy the evening without spending $50,” she says. “Anywhere you go, it’s about $50.”
Yiu hopes to open The Turning Peel in late August at 4546 SE Division Street. Those interested in trying her pizzas beforehand can reserve a spot at a recipe tasting pop-up on August 4.