Palmer’s Pizzeria: Chef-turned-stay-home-dad sells Chicago deep-dish pizza from his Bedok HDB

By Evan Mua April 19, 2024
Palmer’s Pizzeria: Chef-turned-stay-home-dad sells Chicago deep-dish pizza from his Bedok HDB
Palmer's Pizzeria is one of the few places serving rich and saucy Chicago deep-dish pizzas in Singapore. Photos: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere
  • Palmer’s Pizzeria is a home-based business run by a former professional chef
  • It specialises in the rare Chicago deep-dish pizza, which isn’t easily found in Singapore
  • When not making pizza, owner Chris VanWinkle spends most of his time as a stay-home-dad, helping his kids with school

These days, it’s easy to find pizza joints of all kinds in Singapore — be it casual Korean to-go snacks, New York slices or pillowy authentic Neapolitan pizza.

It’s undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes here, but there’s still one very unique style of pizza that hasn’t received much love in Singapore thus far: The Chicago deep-dish pizza.

For those who don’t know, it’s a style of pizza that’s almost akin to a pie, with a tall crunchy crust on the outside, while loaded up with an abundance of sauce in its centre. 

Where can you find it? Not many places in Singapore offer it, but one home-based business in Bedok, Palmer’s Pizzeria, has been blowing up on social media recently for this unique pizza.

The story behind Palmer’s Pizzeria

palmer's pizzeria
Chef-owner Chris VanWinkle has had many years of experience in both the USA and Singapore. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

This home-based business is run by Chris VanWinkle, 41, a former professional chef with around 15 years of experience in the USA and Singapore working both at restaurants and as a private chef. 

So why Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and why not go with the name VanWinkle’s Pizza?

Palmer’s Pizzeria was actually named in memory of Chris’ grandmother, whose maiden name was Palmer. She had first taught him about cooking and fostered a love for the culinary arts in him.

“I basically learned my cooking chops from my grandmother and the kitchens I worked in, since I didn’t go to culinary school,” he says.

As for why he decided on specialising in this unique style: He loved it and felt there was potential, given the dearth of Chicago deep-dish pizzas in Singapore.

Setting up Palmer’s Pizzeria was actually quite a fast process for Chris, given his wealth of culinary experience.

That’s why the R&D process the recipes didn’t take long. “I’ve been cooking deep-dishes for a long time at home for friends and family,” he adds.

Palmer’s Pizza opened for orders on Jan 1, just two weeks after Chris left his previous job.

palmer's pizzeria
He has refined his recipe after years of making it at home for friends and family. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

According to Chris, prep time takes around six to eight hours and his ingredients — from sauce to Italian sausages — are all homemade, except for the mozzarella and pepperoni. 

It’s only been a little over three months since Palmer’s Pizzeria started, but Chris says the reception has been positive so far and he’s gotten good reviews, including from fellow professional chefs.

PSLE is the priority

palmer's pizzeria
After 15 years here, Chris is as Singaporean as you and I. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Before Palmer’s Pizzeria, Chris has had quite the journey to get to where he is today. 

He recalls: “I started working in the kitchens from the young age of 14, mostly washing dishes.”

Eventually, he got his first break when the restaurant’s fry cook called in sick and left dishwashing behind him.

At age 16, he became an emancipated minor and moved all over the States, ranging from North Carolina to Alaska.

He cycled through a myriad of jobs — including mechanical engineering and humanitarian work — before meeting his Singaporean wife while working in Los Angeles, California.

palmer's pizzeria
Chris sees a lot of potential in the rare-in-Singapore style of pizza. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The two fell in love and Chris eventually moved to Singapore to be with her. 

The Palmer’s Pizzeria chef-owner has been here for 15 years to date and is essentially a naturalised Singaporean at this point — you can hear the “lahs” coming in naturally at the end of his sentences and his favourite local comfort food includes black carrot cake and popiah!

The couple have two daughters, too. The oldest is preparing to take her PSLE exams this year, whereas the youngest is in Primary Four. Like every other dad, Chris obviously takes it very seriously.

Besides crafting pizzas for Palmer’s Pizzeria, the loving dad takes an active role in his kids’ lives.

palmer's pizzeria
Just look at that tantalising cheese pull. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Part of the reason Palmer’s Pizzeria operates on a home-based model for now is so that Chris can be around to support them whenever they need him.

He intends to stay the course and is keeping expansion plans on the backburner until the PSLE is done and dusted.

“Maybe I’ll think about opening a brick-and-mortar when they are both in secondary school,” he adds.

The taste test

palmer's pizzeria
Palmer’s menu has more than just savoury Chicago deep-dish pizza. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

When we tried out the most basic cheese (from S$19) Chicago deep-dish pizza, what struck us first was how piquant and satisfying the sauce was.

Concocted with Italian tomatoes and herbs, the sauce brims with tomato richness, while carrying a nice touch of acidity and spice nuance. It’s silky and chunky, which pairs wonderfully with the cornmeal crust.

And if you’re wondering what that unique outer layer is like — unlike your usual crackling thin crusts or pillowy leopard-spotted dough, this one is more akin to a crumbly, crunchy biscuit that has a toothsome firmness to it.

palmer's pizzeria
A gloriously sexy mess of sauce, cheese and meats. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

By contrast, Palmer’s Pizzeria’s Meat Lover’s (S$30) deep-dish pizza is slightly less saucy and studded with a glut of meats, including the highlight: Homemade Italian sausage.

The sausage is rich and juicy and adds a good dose of meaty texture to the saucy affair — definitely something that would please the more carnivorous eaters amongst us.

Besides the usual rich, full-bodied red-sauced pizzas, Chris also puts out a very unique Nutella and chocolate chip (S$25) Chicago deep-dish pizza. This is more akin to a chocolate pie that makes for an absolutely indulgent dessert.

palmer's pizzeria
Who knew Nutella worked so well in a pizza? Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Buttery crust paired with silky, molten Nutella and given a dose of chocolate decadence? It’s as simple as it sounds — just as good as it sounds, too.

Other than Chicago deep-dish pizzas, Palmer’s Pizzeria also serves up handmade pastas including handmade fettuccine ala bolognese (S$14), handmade fettucine ala alfredo (S$14). 

And if you’re a first-timer looking for something more routine to pair with the deep-dish pizza, there are also thin-crust pizzas available with flavours ranging from Meat Lover’s (S$21) to Hawaiian (S$21).

palmer's pizzeria
Who knew Nutella worked so well in a pizza? Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

For desserts, we recommend the monkey bread (S$25), a unique pastry from the USA that’s somewhat similar to a cinnamon roll.

The cinnamon-forward treat comes with a chewy dough that’s drenched in vanilla glaze and topped with raisins and walnuts — very comforting. 

If all that is not enough to entice you to try some of its pizzas, Palmer’s Pizzeria is also offering S$5 off selected Chicago deep-dish pizzas in April to celebrate the launch of its new website. 

So if you’re looking to try out this unique style of pizza, why not now? There’s both islandwide delivery and self-collection available!

For more ideas on what to eat, read our stories on the newest openings to check out for your weekend date and our masterguide to eating your way through Tanjong Pagar.

Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.

You can also book a ride to Palmer’s Pizzeria for self-collection.

Evan Mua


Evan started off writing about food on Instagram, before joining outlets such as Buro and Confirm Good to pursue his passion. His best work usually comes after his first whisky shot in the morning.

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