It was about a year and a half ago that I (Ariane) had to give up on writing a blog. So many things change so rapidly at Pizza Carrello, it started to become impossible to make time to write, let alone process the string of changes that evolved around us.
One thing's for sure, we've been working around the clock since the last time we checked in... long long ago. Here's a brief synopsis of some highlights that we thought you might like to know, or we'd at least like to brag about!
We won a freakin' award! The "Entrepreneur of the Year" award by the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce! We were flabbergasted when the envelope was opened and they read our names, and though that was back in 2012, we're still amazed and completely honored!
Rachel and I own the company! We bought out our business partner and dug in our heels, Rachel took the plunge, quit her job and we have been pushing, reinvesting, and reinventing our business ever since.
We have hired some of the greatest people on the planet, who have become like a pizza family to us. We are so proud of them and what they offer our customers that we are working day and night to better their wages, give them benefits, and offer them educational and professional development opportunities that we are hoping will keep them around for a long time and let them know how much we truly appreciate their commitment and dedication to providing the best pizza we can possibly make.
We found a home, and by the way we have a little pizzeria inside of a micro-brewery! Yeah, that happened, it's crazy, and it's working! The Gillette Brewing Company is renting a space to us that allows us to be open regardless of weather conditions, which means that we are now open 7 days a week! We are so excited to be a part of another company's beginning and we're excited to see where this crazy adventure goes next!
We got another oven, and it's pretty darned cute. It's a lot smaller than our first one, and there are things we love, and things we'd love to change about it, but it's doing a good job at the brewery. We will have to make some modifications to it to in order to make it our own, and those ought to be a lot of fun!
We're reviving this blog, like gently breathing life into a smoldering pile of kindling, we're going to get this fire going! I am really excited to share all of the cool things I've learned over the last year and a half about cooking in wood-ovens, and I'm all ready to share the joy. Check back for features on all kinds of cuisine outside of the pizza realm and from within as well. I've been busy, and now it's time to write about it.
So come an' get it, HOT OFF THE PEEL!
It's not everyday that we get to make pizza for rock stars, but when the occasion does come, we really enjoy it! We had the great pleasure of making pizza for Sophie B. Hawkins, Gigi Gaston and the band. Actually, we fed them TWICE! Once before the performance, and again after the show was over. It was an amazing performance that included some Janis Joplin covers that made us stop making pizzas long enough to turn around to make sure Janis hadn't come back from the dead! What a great night at the Donkey Creek Festival! Sophie said she had heard about us on the plane ride into town from a complete stranger who recommended us, then from two other people before she even got to the restaurant. HOW COOL IS THAT?!
The next day at the Festival we battled 103 degree heat with no breeze, in front of the oven it was easily 110, but our new Pizziolos handled it very well! A pizzaiolo is a pizza artist, and we have a few new ones. There's our newest addition, Nathan, he's a firemaster extraordinaire who comes with a culinary degree from Sheridan College and a zest for wood-fired oven cooking. Then we have the amazing pizza making machines Monika and Steve Yount, a dynamic duo who have taken on all kinds of extra tasks and have been extremely flexible as we find our feet and learn how to adapt to a much larger team. Kevin Kauffman has become the ultimate in customer service, finding ways to create efficiency, he's always thinking about ways we can improve. We also have the great pleasure and privilege to call Herb Kalenberg our employee. He comes with over a decade of culinary and kitchen experience and he is an absolute pleasure to work with. He has already made himself indispensable. But wait, there's more! We also have Sara and Aaron, a young couple who help out a couple of days a week and keep our energy up with their vibrant youthful spirits. We really honestly feel that we have put together a super team, WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE! These people are changing Pizza Carrello in such positive ways that we feel we cannot thank them enough. To our new team members: You guys are the best, and we are so lucky to have you and your talents helping us create something truly great for our entire community.
This weekend while looking for fresh basil, our executive chef was inspired by some flats of blueberries that were looking extra scrumptious, so we bought them and some whipped cream and made dessert pizzas. They were such a hit, we're thinking of offering them all of the time. Try one while we experiment this week and let us know what you think!
Well folks, blogging just hasn't been a priority. In fact, we have been so busy making pizza, we missed some pretty big milestones!
We have officially made THOUSANDS of pizzas.
We have grown our facebook community, http://www.facebook.com/pizzacarrello and we have made a lot of new friends on and off of the internet.
We have some caterings under our belt, and we are earning a great reputation for quality food, dynamic atmosphere, and meeting everyone's budget! We couldn't be more proud!
We've been working from 7:00am until 11:00pm every single day for months now, and since it's been raining, we've been working hard to catch up on some much needed sleep!
We have only ceased to street vend when the wind is strong enough to blow the pepperoni right off the pizza or when there is precipitation, as we have learned, just like in elementary school, flour and water make glue and making pizza gets a little sticky!
We donated pizza for Herb Kalenberg's Artist Reception at Cam-Plex. If you haven't checked out his work yet, get down to the Cam-Plex Heritage Center Gallery for a look! Or check out is facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Herb-Kalenberg-Artist/107118126013060
We participated in a school fundraiser to help the Discovery Imagination group at Lakeview Elementary. We hired the kids to move four pallets of oak firewood from a trailer into a shed. The money they earned contributed to their trip to Tennessee for a national conference.
We can now enjoy the shade! Builder extraordinaire, Bob Trowe, made some amazing tilting, adjustable rotating umbrella stands that mount to the trailer. They are FANTASTIC! The red umbrellas look nice too!
We have started to build our own commercial kitchen so that we can make our dough morning, noon, and night.
We are hiring employees so we can start a dinner shift!
And now pictures. Enjoy!
On Saturday, we set-up at Lasting Legacy Park and had a great time watching about 100 people try wood-fired pizza for the first time ever. It was so much fun to see their faces light up with the first bite. So many people said, "I love the crust!" and "What is in this sauce?". We offer two sauce options, our classic Red Sauce which is 100% Organic Fire-roasted tomatoes, and a Pesto Sauce that is a blend of Basil, Cheese, Oil, and Garlic. But yesterday when I made my own pizza for lunch, I mixed the two and nearly fell out of my chair! That's why we're going to call it our BESTO SAUCE! For those who like it zesty!
We are recovering from sunburn today... in March? In Wyoming? Strange! Maybe we really did bring a little bit of Italy to Gillette!
Since the last time we blogged:
We FINALLY got the little lever spigot we wanted for our hand-washing station.
We got our License to sell food from the State of Wyoming.
We sold our very first pizza, a Jalapeno Popper Pizza, with peppers, bacon and cream cheese, to Deb Morgan.
We secured a couple of locations, and more are in the works.
We have an amazing new assistant/pizziolo (a person who makes pizza is called a pizziolo, and sometimes pizziola if the artist is a woman). This young gentleman is Aaron Morlock and today he really worked hard, stayed focused, and created amazing pizzas. Aaron is currently volunteering to gain experience, but we hope to promote him as soon as we are able. He has truly been an incredible asset already, and he's only worked a day and a half!
We made over 70 pizzas on the fly at the Don's Supermarket parking lot in 6 hours, we could have sold a lot more, but we ran out of dough. Even though it was an impulse decision, we just couldn't wait another minute to make pizza. We had no signs, no menus. Only business cards, and everything needed to make simple, delicious pizza pies. We didn't post on Facebook, we told about 10 people after we arrived. We just sat at the back of the parking lot and let the wonderful aromas bring the people to us. We stayed so busy we didn't take a picture! However, loyal customer Sara Morgan took these for us. Over and OVER we heard, "I've never had anything like this!" and, "This is the best pizza I've ever had!" and we were only making cheese and pepperoni pizza. It was a great day for Pizza Carrello!
We had our first trip to our commissary yesterday and made over 100 dough balls in 2 1/2 hours! It was AWESOME! Our mixer was much quieter than anyone had expected and our team just sort of found their groove. Procedures we've been dreaming about since August were finally put into place and we worked together like a well tuned machine. It couldn't have gone better. Everyone at Pizza Carrello would like to send a heartfelt and sincere thanks to Sue and Tom Kalenberg for their amazing support in helping us get our mixer and just being all around amazing people. Tom and Sue, we really can't thank you enough!
Also, we would like to thank Louise and Rob Trowe for their support, the use of their shop and their enormous truck that we've been using to haul the trailer around. We couldn't have done this without you and your support. We appreciate everything so very much!
NOW WE ARE JUST WAITING FOR OUR HAND-WASHING SUPPLIES TO ARRIVE! I think we're all wondering if we should have shelled out the extra money for faster shipping!
Our mixer is here! Soon our hand-washing station will arrive, and ingredients are only a few days away! The Pizza Carrello Family could not be more excited.
We have been perfecting our pizza handling skills, our dough throwing abilities, and learning how to AND HOW NOT TO cook a pizza perfectly. The other night, for the first time, we made dirty steaks! Dirty steaks are made by cooking the meat directly on top of a bed of coals for a couple of minutes on each side. The results were smokey, delicious, tender steaks that made our dinner table discussion turn to silence within seconds of the first bites. WE COULD NOT BELIEVE HOW GOOD THEY WERE! Not to mention Jalapeno Popper Pizza, Bacon Ranch Avocado Pizza, Pesto Pepperoni Pizza with Cream Cheese, and of course one Cheese Pizza just for fun, and fun it was. All of the pizzas we made were out of this world. We couldn't stop ourselves from giggling from time to time, just out of pure satisfaction. We were so busy enjoying ourselves that we forgot to take pictures of the pizzas before we devoured them. Forgive us, we were having too much fun!
Ariane and Thomas curing the oven and talking pizza.
Last week we were extremely fortunate to have Thomas Garnick stop by our workshop to talk pizza. Thomas Garnick, of "Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada" in Denver, also happens to be a Gillette native! He has a ton of wood-fired oven experience, and he has done his fair share of catering that has garnered him some nice attention...
*100 Things to Taste, Denver Magazine, 2010
*Best Specialty Pizza, Westword Magazine, 2011
*Top of the Town Pizza, 5280 Magazine 2011
We originally met Thomas while attending the "Fire Within" Fall Seminar, and he was a wealth of information then, but to have him confirm and validate that our trailer and our oven are truly great, really was a wonderful experience, worth a mint. While we were hanging around the oven chatting, I finished the final stage of the curing process.
SO WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR??? We are waiting for our big, new, shiny commercial mixer to arrive so we can start making hundreds of dough balls which we will then turn into amazing pizza pies!!! So while we are waiting, we are finishing a lot of little details. Since our handmade tiles are not finished, we painted the oven to protect the stucco until we can tile it. We chose a color that you can't miss!
Once again our camera died at the worst time, but this should give you a nice sneak peek!
Ariane and Bob began curing the oven today. Curing is a process which requires the oven be maintained at low but gradually increasing temperatures over a period of five days. Maintaining low temperatures in an oven that is designed to conduct heat naturally can be a tricky task but Bob and Ariane were able to figure out how to manage the fire to keep the oven temperature at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be a few more late nights and early mornings for Pizza Carrello, but in the end, pizza will be baking.
Once the oven is cured, there are only a few finishing details until Pizza Carrello is ready to serve pizza! Last week, Bob and Ariane were able to build landings for the oven and make table. They also began construction of the herb boxes that will adorn the trailer. This is where we will grow some of our fresh herbs, like basil, to put on the Pizza Carrello pizzas!
Additionally, the trailer will be fitted with an aluminum skin to help add to the artistry of the business and the oven will be covered with hand-made ceramic tile. However, we're so excited to share our pizza with you that we might be on the streets before these details are finished.
More curing updates to come...
Well, yet again I got to do something really cool that I'd never done before... STUCCO! We made our own recipe that included lots of sand, portland cement, and hydrated lime. The results are FANTASTIC! We have an extremely hard stucco, done over multiple layers to a uniform thickness of nearly 2". It's truly beautiful! I finally took the camera home, so I also posted the insulation process and the metal mesh that had to go on top of the insulation onto which we stuck the stucco. Thanks again to Bonnie Omang for enduring the torturous task of helping us with the insulation!
Pizza Carrello is building a trailer on which to build a wood-fired pizza oven. This blog documents the progress, struggles and successes of the construction project.