My family is one of storytelling…going all the way back to when I was a kid, my mom would play a cassette recording of my granddad telling tall tales. This would subdue my brother, sister and I on long car rides. My aunt and cousin are both in fact professional storytellers. My mom even has a story time for kids at the public library in my hometown. Even now as an adult, I will binge listen to podcast like The Moth, and This American Life because it takes me back to those soothing days of sitting still and listening. Story tellers have a super power over me, they slow everything down, so that I notice all the details, and take them in one at a time. Most everyday entertainment is in fact a story that’s been nuanced by the teller, be they a musician, playwright, or director, they have a vision that they want to share with their audience. I feel that desire exists in all of us, to share our vision and be heard. I am no exception.
One can only imagine my sore disappointment, when I found out I don’t tell the best stories. I can usually see the moment I’ve lost my audience in their eyes. This tends to happen right after the opener, mid-sentence, and to be honest, I’ve probably lost you already too…. This has been my lot since I was a kid. The problem is, I have too much to say and have yet to refine that skill of editing my thoughts before they become out loud. This comes to fruition when I begin circling the cult-De-sac inside my head, repeating myself and searching for a way out, because either I’ve forgotten how the story ends or the point I was making. (At this point, friends, family and co-workers can jump in to concur.)
So, yeah, story telling wasn’t my gift, but I still had this strong desire. I needed to share and communicate with an audience. To connect and relate to them, to have a common bond. I found this in food, and to be more specific, bread baking. (Bread carries some serious weight in the land of story telling). Baking had become my super power. I’m able to share, relate and tell a story to my audience, about the ingredients and their origin, to why I put them together, to what it reminds me of, and how I feel every time I make it. Professional chefs call the sum of all that inspiration, and I call it a story. It’s the simplest task to eat a meal, but to slow down , taste, and to reflect on that experience, of the food, that someone painstakingly prepared, that’s more than just inspiration. That meal is telling a great story of its experience, and it taste better because of it.
I started as a cook, and it taught me about ingredients, and why I should know their origin. Then I moved to pastry where art and science ( still two of my best friends) met me at the front door. All that intensified when I became a bread baker. This was my calling. The day to day’s of feeding the starter, and mixing the flours to create a unique flavor, to the patience that is needed for a long slow fermentation that adds depth. Everyday on the bread station looks exactly the same on paper. Some would call this monotony, but bread bakers call it a meditation. Things are never what they seem, the calm and smooth exterior of the dough, holds a force bubbling up inside. A baker has to listen to the starter and the dough. The weather weighs in and the dough changes its pace, so the baker has to follow. When rhythm is met and balance is created, it’s magic.
Surprisingly, it was a long journey to get to the point where I’m at today, where bread meets cooking, and they have a love child called pizza. If I thought bread was my calling, then pizza was a nostalgic vision of home. It brought together all the different sides of my experience in the food world. Whenever I got tired of making bread for the day, or was trying to feed the kitchen in a hurry, I’d throw together some pizzas, and it literally pleased everyone. Every friction filled cook I’ve ever worked with has found the time to stop what they’re doing to eat pizza. Pizza is the perfect food to eat in a kitchen because it doesn’t require plates or silverware. And the truth is, it doesn’t matter if the pizza you had as a kid was good or bad, your memory of it is special and untouched. As every good story-teller knows, that’s the golden moment, you’ve connected with your audience over nostalgia.
Even though I was running kitchens and bakeries for other people, I found my voice. Refining, editing and feeding people pizza, became all-consuming . Pizza is my vision, voice and vice. And not just any pizza, the best pizza I could imagine. Apparently the public thought so too, because we were drawing quite a following. What started as a tangent to a bakery once a week, begin to fill up more and more time, and energy. It was at that point I decided to leave the bakery where I was working to focus my attention to building a restaurant of my own. Where Pizza’s the star. In the mean time, while I’m going through all the boring stuff like paperwork, and punching numbers, as well trying to learn things that my younger, naive, self never thought I’d need to know, I’ll be writing here about the process. The good, the bad, the confusing. From the starting point of my business plan (almost complete), to the day I open the doors, I’ll be here writing it all down, and posting recipes as I go.
Welcome to Our House, this is my story.