Pacifica Senior Living Blog

Pacifica Senior Living's Chef Keoni Shares His Homemade Pizza Recipe

May 16, 2024 10:18:05 AM / by Carly Dodd, Pacifica Senior Living

Mealtimes are a major highlight for residents in our community. Not only does everyone love enjoying a delicious dish, but meals also offer a chance to catch up with loved ones, neighbors, or friends. In our communities we make a point to make mealtimes extra special by celebrating fun food holidays and mixing exciting new dishes in with favorites and classics.

For National Pizza Day, Chef Keoni of Pacifica Senior living Poway created a special signature pizza dish for our residents to enjoy. We are proud that our culinary teams go above and beyond to include fun days like national pizza day in their menus, and the residents love seeing what exciting dishes are coming next.
We sat down with Chef Keoni to learn a little bit more about his culinary journey. He also shared his recipe for delicious homemade pizza so you can try making it at home for yourself!

Chef Keoni's Story:

Before assuming his current role as Food Service Director at Pacifica Senior Living Poway, Chef Keoni was the Executive Chef at Jamul Casino (formerly Hollywood), which he helped open in 2016. He has been a chef in a variety of places across southern California including Steele Canyon Golf Club, Gordon Biersch, Viejas Casino & Resort, The Field Irish Pub, BBQ House, and Sushi on a Roll (SOAR). His experience at these restaurants and eateries gave him cooking knowledge that is diverse and allows him to come up with some fun and interesting dishes for our residents.

Chef Keoni Simmons pacifica senior living Poway

When he was 8 years old, Chef Keoni got his first cookbook from an elementary school book fair. It was the Better Home and Gardens Junior Cookbook (which he still has today). Keoni started making recipes out of this book. Some things, like his first snickerdoodles, turned out perfectly, while other dishes like the chili con carne... not so much. But he kept practicing and trying new recipes, getting better each time. Growing up, both of his parents worked and so he had to figure out how to feed himself until his mom got home to make dinner. He would often help out by making the rice (being Hawaiian, Chef Keoni said they had rice with everything, even spaghetti) or browning the beef for a stew. 

“Lucky for me I grew up with cultural family traditions like luaus, holiday tamales and New England Lobster Bakes. I was able to learn how to prepare a lot of these dishes with hands-on training.  Which in the end I believe helped me define my culinary palette and food that I enjoy making,” he shared.

Chef Keoni's grandparents were also a huge part of his life when he was young. Being the only grandson for 14 years allowed him to be spoiled and go on adventures with them to the east coast. When visiting family in New England he developed a taste for Maine lobster, Vermont white cheddar and blueberries. At 11 years old he enjoyed prime rib for the first time while dining in the gold sphere at the Knoxville World’s Fair in 1982. Unfortunately his grandparents were never able to see him become a chef, but being in a Senior Living Community allows him in a way to give thanks and honor their memory. 

Try Chef Keoni’s Signature Pizza for yourself! He’s given us his sauce and dough recipes for the ultimate homemade pizza experience. Try his signature toppings, or add your own favorites to put a personal spin on it.

pizza recipe pacifica senior living Poway

Homemade Pizza Recipe:

Pizza Sauce

1 #10 can ground tomatoes

1 #10 can full red marinara sauce

1 cup grated parmesan

2 cups Italian seasoning blend

¼ cup black pepper

½ cup granulated garlic

¼ cup kosher salt

¼ cup chopped garlic

2 cups water


Put crushed tomatoes into a 22 qt container and add 1 can of water.

Add all spices and grated parmesan and blend well.


Pizza Dust

Italian seasoning

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Granulated Garlic and Granulated Onion

Pizza Dough – 3 pizzas

8 cups bread flour 

4 tsp rapid rise or instant yeast

5 tsp kosher salt

8 tsp 

8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2.5 cups warm tap water 


  1. Mix dry: Place flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add wet: Make a well in the center. Pour in oil and water. Mix to bring together so it comes away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Knead 5 minutes: Sprinkle work surface with 1/2 the Extra Flour. Scrape dough out of the bowl. Bring together into a ball then knead for 5 minutes until

pretty smooth. Shape dough into a ball.

Rise #1:

  1. Drizzle a large bowl with Olive Oil (can use the same bowl).
  2. Place dough in, turn over and rub top with oil.
  3. Cover with cling wrap, then put in a warm place for 1 - 2 hours until it doubles in size. 

(Optional - place in the refrigerator for 24hrs)


Rise #2:

  1. Scrape dough out of the bowl on the work surface lightly dusted with flour. Shape into a log, fully deflating dough in the process.
  2. Cut into 3 equal portions - one for each pizza base.
  3. For each dough portion, shape into a ball, tuck the sides under, so you have a smooth surface.
  4. Place balls, smooth side up, on a large tray - / 2" from the edge of the tray, / 4" from each other.
  5. Sprinkle balls with a touch of flour and lightly rub to coat the surface. Cover balls with a slightly damp kitchen towel. 
  6. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour until almost double in size. (If fridge-cold, this will take 3 - 4 hours).


Stretch Pizza Dough:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F, or as high as it will go. Put the shelf in the top third of the oven.
  2. Sprinkle the work surface with 1/2 tbsp flour. Place one dough ball on top.
  3. Without touching the edges, use fingertips and back of fingers to deflate dough gently and spread out into an 8" round. Then use your fingers and palms to stretch the dough, working around the circle, until it's almost the size of a 12" pizza pan.
  4. Drag onto the pizza pan or paddle if cooking on pizza stone, then finish stretching it to fill the pan. Neaten up the shape so it's as perfectly round and uniform as possible – the shape you have now is the shape it will bake to! Leave 1/3" of the edge untouched as much as possible 


Topping / Cooking

  1. Spread with 1/4 cup pizza sauce (more if needed), 1 1/3 cups freshly grated mozzarella, sprinkle cooked Italian sausage, gorgonzola cheese, sliced mushrooms and roasted garlic. 
  2. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating at 4 minutes and checking at 8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and has some golden spots.
  3. Upon pulling it out brush crust with garlic oil, sprinkle with pizza dust and chiffonade of fresh basil.
  4. Cut into wedges and serve

Our chefs and culinary team members bring something special to each community. Beyond training and culinary expertise, their passion for food and flavor makes each meal something truly special. Come visit to share a meal with us.

Come visit us!

Tags: Dining, Recipes & Nutrition