It may seem obvious, but the key piece of equipment, the engine of any wood fired pizza shop is the oven. This baby right here, the Mario Acunto Classico 5, is our engine. And it just arrived yesterday.
Well, after years of learning and growing, it's finally time to take GoreMade Pizza to the next level by opening our very first brick and mortar restaurant. If you recall from our first blog post back in 2011, this has been in the works for a long time! We've secured the most awesome of spaces, and I can't believe our luck!
When I started this crazy journey to open a pizza business, I was planning on it being a Brick & Mortar restaurant. It was scheduled for an opening date of March 3rd, 2013, and that date was set 5 years ago! A lot has changed since making those plans, but I'm happy to report that on March 12, 2013, after talking with Columbus Public Health for over a year, GoreMade Pizza has officially become a licensed mobile food establishment! (Can I Get A Woop-Woop!?!) The fact that it was 9 days after my target goal set 5 years ago is down right amazing, and just goes to show that it pays to plan ahead!
Sunday, June 3rd, GoreMade Pizza went out to Powell for its first graduation party from 3:00-6:00 pm, asked to feed 30 people. One of the owners of Via Vecchia Winery, who are gracious enough to allow me to use their Commercial Kitchen for its commissary, had me out with the oven to make pizzas for their son's Graduation Party. It was such an awesome experience, excluding a couple things I'll know for next time.
I had the opportunity to do an interview for the Columbus Underground, an underground news website here in Columbus, Ohio. Check it out HERE.
They got wind of me after I began following them from my twitter account. A couple weeks later, they sent me an email asking if I'd answer some questions. They even sent out a photographer to take my picture last week. Interestingly enough, they used a couple pictures from my facebook account without my permission, nor did they give me credit for them. I felt a little violated, but I got 20-30 new facebook fans from it, so I think I can deal with the violation for the sake of popularity.
Let the soul selling begin!
To all my loyal pizza folk out there wondering what's going on with a very quiet GoreMade Pizza this last month and a half, let me bring you up to speed.
My oven has been at the Idea Foundry under the capable hands of Metaldelphia Metal Fabricators since the beginning of February. It is getting a full make-over, including 3 compartment sinks and a hand washing sink (complete with hot running water), a new oven door, a rebalanced and solidified trailer with the oven entrance now rear facing, a new smoke-stack, a collapsable 2'x4' stainless steel prep table in front of the oven entrance, a stainless steel shell around the oven, and all sorts of other little odds and ends that Mark Lamson saw fit to do. I must say, if you're in need of metal fabrication, Mark is your guy. He's a little nutty and kinda slow (unless you pressure him and pay for his speed), but he's the answer to metal fabrication needs on a tight budget! Word on the street is that I should have my oven back this weekend or so! If all goes well, we'll all be eating delicious pizzas on april fool's day!
I'd also like to announce that I dropped my LLC application in the mail this morning, marking the biggest step for the business thus far! It was all a little confusing to me at first, but after talking with Ariana from the Small Business Development Center of Columbus, that all changed. I met with her last Monday, and it was a thing of beauty! She just took out her magic wand, waved it around saying a few words, and then I had everything I needed to submit the proper paperwork and get it all going. It was truly an amazing thing to behold, and I couldn't be more appreciative of her help!!!
It is a weird feeling, making it official in the eyes of the government. Before, it was all just me playing with heat, dough and toppings amongst friends. But soon I'll have tax responsibilities, record keeping, customers, and all other sorts of responsible things to contend with. One step at time, I suppose. The only things left are to get inspected by the health department and start a business banking account and I should be set!
... More as the story unfolds! Thanks for your patience as I get where I need to be!
When starting a business, there's always Competition. People competing for the dollar you are also trying to get. This is something that I know very little about, seeing as I have yet to really compete in any market. That's all about to change as of January 29th, 2012. This date marks the annual Pizza Pizzazz competition, part of a larger pizza trade show called NAPICS (North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show) taking place at the Columbus Convention Center, and it has me all aflutter these past few days. Pizza makers from all over the country gather together for their piece of $15,000 in prize money and a lifetime of bragging rights. You make one 14"-16"pizza in either the "traditional" or "gourmet" category for a panel of judges, and the top six make two of that same pizza again later that day. The top three in each category get $6,000, $1,000 and $500 for first, second and third, respectively.
Thursday, October 13th, GoreMade Pizza made their first mobile wood fired public appearance. It was a complete success!
The company I work for does a catered event for our department twice a year or so, with random pizza orderings in between. There's some partnership they have with Donato's Pizza and that's usually what's on the menu. The discussions were coming up for what to serve this time around instead of the same old pizza. This was about the time I found my love for wood fired pizza, and buying a wood fired oven was on my short list of things to do. After the purchase of the oven and going through the chain of approval, which is a dizzying process for anything in a corporate environment, I finally got the go-ahead.
Since I have not yet been inspected by the health department, It is illegal for me to charge money for food. So my department paid for the ingredients and I put it all together free of charge (although I was on the clock for 5 hours on pizza day!)
Have you ever gotten so excited about something that it couldn't possibly live up to your anticipation of it? That was the first pizza sunday with my new oven.
For some reason, I imagined my first wood fired experience to be nothing less than perfection from the very beginning. Let me ruin the suspense by telling you that it was indeed less than perfection. We got some delicious food, don't get me wrong. But there were definitely quite a few set-backs and burnt edges.
Firing a wood oven is something I probably should have put more time and research into before trying it on my own. Lets just say that the assumed 45 minute warm-up time was a little ambitious for a first timer! It took nearly 2 hours to get the oven to what I understood to be "temperature" (sort of a blind-leading-the-blind destination in and of itself). The position of the fire is key to properly distributing heat evenly. And burning thick bark is not good. After that all got ironed out, it was still a little rocky, but at least we made it out with the oven "working"!
They say that starting a business is like having a baby. First, it's an idea. It's exciting and scary, but the scary part is way off in the distance. It grows inside of you and you begin to love it even before you meet it, reading all about what to expect and what you'll be going through, collecting things you'll need for your new adventure.
Tension builds with anticipation. You try to be as ready as possible, but there are so many thing you'll need to learn as you go. The weeks become months, and your idea grows until it's almost too big to fit inside of you, fighting for space (and winning) with your other internal workings. The final few weeks are so tough that you begin to submit to the terrifying reality that you will soon have to take this internal thing and make it external!!! Finally, you feel something. Something you haven't felt before. Pain isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind. Pressure, discomfort, nervousness, doubt. All these emotions come to the surface when you finally realize one thing... This is it! The baby has dropped!
Nick Gore was a corporate peon by day who just made the leap to full time pizza geek. Follow his path to world class Pizzaiolo right here on the GoreMade Pizza blog. Also, check out the facebook page.