2.0 is upon us, and here comes 2.5 tons of Trouble!

August 16th, 2012

Hello friends, its been a crazy two years! Our First mobile pizza oven however has pretty much run its course. After roughly 10,000 miles traveled, and close to 10,000 pizzas cooked, I’d say I got my $8000 worth. My first attempt at building an oven from scratch without any prior knowledge of running this type of business, and never having even set foot in a commercial cooking environment has kind of worked out for me. But it is time to send “Fisty” the pizza oven into the shop, and move up to 2.0.

We started out small, man, I remember the old days, getting up at 7:30 am, packing up and heading up to the Laurel Farmer’s Market, very small neighborhood market that barely had their permits in order gave us a chance to field test our operation. Arriving there by 8:30 am on a saturday, setting up by myself, and sitting there from 10-2, waiting, ahh yes. Waiting and watching as would be customers would overlook us and settle for what they knew, a $5 Giant burger Combo meal. I distinctly remember the sales, the 10 or so pizzas, and occasionally 15 whole pizzas! Plus I had a regular customer who would always pay me in $2 bills, her dad loved them and was always giving them to her. I think she’s a mommy by now, I think she was one of my first Pre-natal customers, but I digress.

A lot has changed since October 2010, mostly the look of things, the size of things, and the taste of things. And they are changing again. By late September we should be operating a brand new, state of the art Pizza oven trailer. Professionally built and assembled by the folks up at Pizziaolo Ovens. We are starting the planning process this week, and will be plunkin down a serious chunk for a deposit on a custom built 56″ behemoth, the Modena2 G series from Forno Bravo, nor-cal local company I found while researching my first oven. Back then I had just enough money to D.I.Myself, and was crazy enough to try it. I didn’t have the business yet, so I had all the time in the world to design and build from scratch. This time however, there is no time for fun. We have gigs, real gigs, and they are stacking up. Our current setup will barely get us through the building process of 2.0. I may even be cancelling any non essential gigs until the new rig is complete, if i think the oven is deteriorating even more. I gotta save it for the ones we’ve either paid for or been paid for…

But we’re not there yet, and all scheduled gigs are still happening. Shit, I need the gigs to help pay this beast off, we can’t stop. I’m going to run this 1.0 into the ground and turn it back to powder if I’m not careful. This new oven trailer combo will be well worth the investment. I’ve proven to myself that I can do this, and now I believe is the time to grow. With 2.0 on the streets by September 20th (I hope), I can spend the necessary time to fix, repair or rebuild 1.0, and I will have essentially cloned myself. Two separate gigs in one day, oh I can’t wait. Or we find a good ol’ place to park the trailer and we find it a permanent home to run gigs and demos out of. Now considering any offers for a parking space, just let us know!

Heres a preliminary sketch, super preliminary…

rough sketch for CAD designer

Where did Fist of Flour Go for Art Murmur, you may ask…

July 3rd, 2012

Hello friends. This friday is First Friday in Oakland, and we will be on “vacation” per-se. For the first time in over a year, we will not be working the corner of 23rd and Valley streets. why you ask? well, the Oakland Art murmur.org people decided they had had enough. I heard there was an altercation during the May event that disrupted our usually peaceful yet chaotic goings on quite considerably, drawing our rented security forces out into the street to deal with a protest action or something on 23rd street, leaving the street closure vulnerable. News travels slowly down the block, I heard this from others second hand. I think the .org peeps simply had enough, and after that, they let the event continue for one more month while they got their “words” together, then decided to end the permitted street closure that has been a nucleus of Art murmur for some time. Effective July 6th and beyond, no more food court and vending zone on 23rd street.

I ran into a good friend today outside my kitchen space, Rhassan Fernandez. Perhaps you’ve heard of Boffo Cart? I recall him telling me when I met him a couple years ago that he was partially to blame for making the 23rd street thing a permitted event. He used to set up his BBQ and tent or not, and just make food, selling it in between gallery spaces where he could find a decent spot. Totally renegade. Alongside other oakland notables, the Grilled Cheese guy. Rhassan started trying to work with Alameda County to get a permit and play by the rules. One thing led to another and the 23rd street scene was born out of R.P.S. and a handful of people. I remember eating Rhassan’s food before I “met” him at an art murmur that I happened to go to. He was Set up in the Zone on 23rd street, now probably fully permitted, doing calzones and flatbread creations on his Grill and I was like that’s really cool. I got this oven I’m looking to break into this place. How do i Do that? We figured that part out. Some of you may have tried our pizza.

Today he and his partner were like, so whadda ya think about the end of the 23rd street permit? Which brings me to the point of this blog. I’m quite relieved actually. Yes, for the last year +, art murmur has guaranteed me rent/bill payments, etc. It made us money, no doubt. But it was a hard gig in the end. Being at the end of the block lent itself to all kinds of happenings that involved angry drivers and lots of noise. Since we always had walls up around us we could never see what was going on, walking past us, making crazy sounds, or on occasion quite warm blasts of hot air from a Snail Car1. Like the accordion player who for over a year really only knew one tune. Sure he could play it for an hour, and it probably did vary a bit from month to month, but not enough for our crew’s sanity. The newest additions to the end of the block were a series of marching bands who became stationary bands right behind our tent. It just adds to the difficulty in taking orders and calling out names when we’re busy. Sure it adds to the festivities, but they are supposed to March, and move on you know. K.I.M. down the line.

Summer’s here. July Art murmur will still happen, with new food pods taking the place of ours. Particularly the newest addition to Friday nights, the Eatup will become the new mob scene to get food from. I know I missed the proverbial boat on this one. I got a call from the organizer asking if FOF would like to be a part of it. This was before I knew my spot was disappearing so I said I’ll stick with what’s been working for the last year. Oops. Shoulda coulda all day won’t change the conversation I had with that pod two months ago.

Someone else is in that new spot and no room for me now. Thats ok. Other Pods are forming, We’re hoping to be a part of something by August, back downtown, near where it all legally started for us in April 2011. For now, we’ll stick with catering and our regular string of events, doing what we do best, Making Pizza! The way I see it, we have one more day available to book a private event, and one less permit to get every month! See you out there. Somewhere

Almost two years old and still crackin!

May 29th, 2012

(start with the sound of air blowing off the dust…)
So its been months now since I sat and wrote a little post. Why is this? well We’ve been busy, and we’re still kind of just one person dealing with all the back end stuff like keeping up blog posts and staying current with our friends and fans, of which we have now accumulated over 500! Sweet! I still marvel at how far I’ve come in the last 12 months, and how far we’ve traveled with the Pizza oven, logging over 9000 miles of back and forth across the greater Bay area and beyond. We’ve been spotted as far south as Los Altos, as far east as Concord and Pleasanton, snuck in and around Marin a few times, been seen all over Oakland and Berkeley, and have even managed to pop up in San Francisco twice this year! We’re havign a great time, but I fear the worst. What if I break my money maker?

But James, how can it Break? its Concrete and steel, tried and true elements of the Modern age, proven to withstand the test of time, weather and travel. Wrong. The oven is totally breakable, and in fact has been Cracking up ever since the first time i fired it. I remember that first time like it was yesterday. We were at the Institute of Mosaic Art, christening the oven and celebrating 5 years of the studio’s existence. About three hours into it I heard a big “Crack-boom” like sound from somewhere in the chimney. I was like, oh is this how its gonna be? Well that little crack was no big deal then, but after dragging the beast around from Bumpy street to bumpy freeway to speed bumps, over curbs and into strange parking lots, the wear and tear is worn and torn. The oven has to be tarped now in the rainy times, and theres more surface cracks and pitted holes on it than Joan River’s Face has wrinkles. Its time to start thinking seriously about 2.0. before 1.0 goes Pfffft.

After talking with friends and allies, we’ve given it a lot of thought and we are in the process of building trailer number two. I am working on a new design, that will be bigger and better than number 0ne, hoping to enlarge the cooking surface by one foot all around, thus increasing our output volume to maybe like 35-40 pizzas per hour. We are currently seeking yard space for Cement mixing, welding and Building, and we’ll probably need that space for 2 months. We’ll be contacting all of our friends in the Industry to see where we can build a new oven. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way!

In the meantime, come and grab a slice while we still can serve em hot and fresh! Hope to see you all out there this summer!

One year has passed, can you believe it?

March 20th, 2012

It’s hard to think back 12 months, to March 2011, when I finally got my ass down to the city offices with a solid plan to get a business license. Some may recall that I tried a few times earlier in the year to be a legal Street food/mobile food vendor and I was told that wasn’t gonna happen (at least not any time soon – we’re still waiting, Oakland).

I went home, did some more thinking than I had initially done and came back and said, Ok, How about you call me a caterer instead? Why yes Mr. Whitehead, no problem, here you go, cater away! License obtained, DBA Filed, Insurance policies obtained, Commercial commisary, Check! I was in for quite a time. I only had a couple Weeks left before the April Oakland Art Murmur, and my new found foodtruck friends were egging me on to go Legit and vend at the City’s only large scale monthly happening. I had been watching Murmur grow from the sidelines and knew if we could get our shit together in time, we’d Kill it.

As I recall, it damn near killed me. It was a beautiful sunny friday in downtown, and the dough was gettin Hot and sticky from the sun. I wasn’t quite prepared for the onslaught, but figured we had been working enough smaller events, we knew what we were doing, right? With a virgin crew and a shit ton of product, people lined up for Oakland’s Newest Food Truck and we proceeded to sell out, over 70 pizzas cooked in less than 4 hours.

Every month since, we have had pretty much the same experience, but now, after a full year and 10+ art murmurs under our belts, not to mention countless events, catered parties and random happenings across the Bay Area, we move at the speed of Pizza! 25 P.P.H’s is our top speed (pizzas per hour), and we are only limited by the size of our Hole. We roll as a well-oiled machine, pumping out light and fluffy dough layered with a taste explosion for your mouth. If I could shove one more pie in there each time I would, believe me. Until I can figure out the next phase of our business, we will be limited in quantity, but not creativity. Come see us this month at any one of our events and see why people keep lining up all over town to get a taste of Fresh Hot pizzas done right!

Thank you Oakland and greater Bay area for an Amazing first Year of Business! For a guy who just wanted to go make pizza, I think I turned out allright, don’t you agree? I could not do it without the unending support from friends, fans and family! See you soon.

Still rollin Hot! Fist of Flour is Pizza For the People!!!

So What is 2.0 for Fist of Flour?

February 27th, 2012

Its been far too long since i sat down and wrote about the biz and how things are going. I feel I’ve left the blogsphere empty. Its Sunday night, not workin till Thursday, and I decided I’d sit down and finish this entry I started a while back at the beginning of the month.

A few weeks ago somebody who has worked for me several times now asked me what are you thinking about 2.0? I said well what do you mean? 2.0? of course there has to be a 2.0 if the business is going to grow, right? what if 2.0 is a played out term from 2005 or some shit, and 2.0 isn’t really where its at? I have been pondering this for some time now. About three weeks and 9 hours now since he said it to me actually. Yes I do see a 2.0 in my future, but not right at this moment. My 2.0 is $100K in the hole to start it, and do it correctly. Until I develop the next bizness plan, I can’t really get started on a 2.0…

I am in the process of hatching a plan to start building a new, larger oven and some sort of vehicle to house it. We started this Current venture with a little bit of cash and a whole lot of enthusiasm, and have managed to sustain ourselves. We didn’t need a team of scientists to assemble it and mount it in a truck. I just did it. I was like F*& it lets do it.

I feel like I’ve been doing this for a long time now, but we really haven’t. I get asked, “when did you start this?” and I say well it was 2 years ago last month that I threw my first wood fired pizza (January 11, 2010) if you all recall. By the end of July of 2010 the mobile oven was created and on the road. Since then some 6000 pizzas have spit out of our little, and I mean little wood fired mobile pizza oven. People ask me what do I regret about building it? Usually I say nothing and I love my life, but I do secretly wish for a few more inches, you know. When you’re knee-deep in tickets, orders, whatever people’s immediate desires are written down on little pieces of paper, every inch of oven floor certainly counts. Stacks of tickets now, on a 24″ order rail, the smallest and most functional one I could find. I’m getting a little behind.

It must be art murmur in Oakland. Its now 7:15 and lots of tickets coming in, for slices, a few whole pies, but mostly we’re staying on top of it. Sounds like nobody’s waiting more than 10 minutes, at least I hope so. We can cook 3 pizzas at a time now, 2 really, with a third one finishing at the door, getting its salad tossed on. Arugula or basil is the salad tonight, wilting in the 900° heat rolling out from the pile of wood and coals in the right corner. Everything is hummin and then, bam. Someone orders three pizzas, again! crap. No time to sip on the beer I opened at 5:30 and stashed in the Hand washing sink, now filled with Ice and a couple cold ones. It’ll be there for me at 9:30 when its all done.

Our murmur crews are solid now. In four hours, we’ll kick out 78 pizzas on average. The first hour we make like 5-10 pizzas kinda standing around whistling, and then the next 68 happen like what just happened? By 9 pm they make us start pulling the plug and we need to clear the street by 9:30. last year we could be there till 10 pm, but they are tightening the strings on the event. People ask me why did we stop so early? or we just got here, you’re done? and we say yes, come earlier next time. Complain to the city I suppose. Tell the mayor you are unhappy and the permits should be extended to 11 pm, heck I don’t know who you’d need to complain to to get anything changed.

We’re still waiting on news about the interim mobile food pod pilot program that is supposed to be rolling out in Oakland. I’ve talked to one hopeful pod organizer and she is frustrated, theres a lot of fees the city’s throwing at it, and things don’t sound finalized yet. We’ll see if Oakland can get on the food truck map in 2012. For now I’ll keep on keepin on like we’ve done for the last 15+ months. Our permit is still valid at 23rd and Valley street, so come see us next Friday at the Oakland Art murmur, come early!

The 2011 Recap – our first year in Business is almost over!

December 27th, 2011

Hello friends, I can’t believe its almost 2012. Some are saying it is the end of days, the end of life as we know it, and nobody really “Knows” what’s going to happen. One thing is for sure, it is the End of my 30′s! In just 15 days I will be finishing one helluva decade, and adding another notch in the belt of my life, which according to my doctor may not be necessary. In completing my 39th year, I’ve lost 8 pounds, two graphics clients, several friends, and took a single idea from scratch, and parlayed it into a new career. I thought I’d just put an oven on a trailer and go out and make pizza, lots of pizza. Simple as that. Where and when really hadn’t been established yet. Business plan? Pishshh, I don’t know how to write one of those. Skip it and go straight to the crash course, work it out along the way.

I was on my own, I have no partners, no angry investors to report to, so there was no pressure, and no real bar of success to meet. The first months of 2011 were slow, but I could see things were happening. The mailing list grew, the catering gigs became a little more frequent and we started selling more pizza. By April, with business license in hand and all the “ducks in a row” we were ready for the street fair circuit, and we kicked off April fools at the Art murmur and blasted 77 pizzas out that night, in about 4 hours, with a virgin crew and no flight plan. It was awesome, and a bar was established, and so was our name.

Two articles in local publications followed that summer, OaklandNorth.net cracked the story on us after that night at the art murmur, and the second article in Edible East Bay got a lot more people talking. Summer was insanely busy. More exposure, more pizzas, more stickers were flying out of the Take-one box. I finally had enough new capital to get the van painted. I was diggin the yellow school bus, but I always saw it as the black white and red “Cool” bus. The lettering completed the package and sealed the deal.

its kinda weird how many people Stick their fists up at me while I’m driving nowadays around town. Usually it’s followed with cheers and hoots and a pumping of the fist in the air. Sometimes they know who we are, other times I think they just dig the logo. I’ve seen fists sticking out of sunroofs in traffic, I’ve heard honks and looked down to see someone Giving me the Finger, well their thumbs actually, thumbs up! Kinda stuff happens all the time. I gotta say folks it does make a man feel good to get the fist once and a while…

I like what I do, still, after a good year and a half of doing this. If I think about it, I gather we’ve produced well over 5000 pizzas since our debut way back in July 2010 at the Institute of Mosaic Art. 5000, and counting, out of one little oven on a trailer. The oven is 43″ across the middle and about 56″ deep. We can cook three 13-14″ pies at a time now, in various stages of done-ness. Not to shabby for a wild hair up my ass start up idea like this. Sure, I had seen it in action with Pizza Politana, this was not a new idea. Nor is it a common one. I figured it would just work if it was done right.

Today the term “food truck” can mean just about anything, from a Push cart selling Spiced papaya slices and chicharones, to traveling kitchen trailers, monster food trucks serving up everything under the sun. Street food as Americans know it is finally something that people talk about, seek out, and more often that not, after long lines and relatively competitive prices, Tend to enjoy over the traditional “fast food” establishments that are so ubiquitous with the modern suburban landscape they do not need mention here. Alternative food sources are popping up all over and i am excited to be a part of the future of street food here in Oakland and the east bay area. Lookin forward to making 7500 pizzas is 2012. That is our new year’s resolution, to A) keep accurate counts for once, B) make and serve 7500 pizzas (ripped ones don’t count), and C) to make great pizza everywhere we go! Hope to see you all somewhere soon!

As Fall gives us our last warm days, how will we deal with Winter Rains?

October 24th, 2011

It’s now 12+ hours since i rose this fine morning, 10/23/11, 6:45 and the radio came on so quietly I almost missed it.

6:54 am looking back at the test oven and our house

I don’t really need the alarm these days, especially on Market day. There’s quite a lot to do before I head out on a Sunday, and my brain clicks on around 5. then i look at the clock for a bit, fall deep asleep for like an hour, full on involved complicated dreams too about loosely connected shit I have no idea about, and then pop, time to wake up now. Head out, load the stuff, get to kensington farmer’s market, detatch the oven, unload the van, park it, set up the booth in this order: unload tables, unload wood, light the fire, set up canopy, set up tables, tablecloths, start rolling dough balls so they have enough time to rise to the occasion, and take the gratuitous vendor cup of freshly roasted coffee from Catahoula Coffee Co. (I owe them some pizza BTW). Line up the morning trades with various vendors like my favorite Scones from Butterfat Bakery, the cheddar Scallion being the bomb-diggities. Actually I think I get hyphy for them, if that’s possible for an almost 40 year old pizza nerd from the bay area. Scope out tomatoes from J&K Smith Farms in Knightsen CA, near Brentwood. All of this happens before 8:45 am. On a Sunday…

Ok, some of you reading this may actually work in restaurants, or bakeries, or the foodservice industry, and yes, that’s how business goes. You may even get up earlier than me most days and work longer hours. I know I’m still new at this, its difficult at times, and I whine just a little once and a while. Up before everyone else, smelling like coffee, shallots, and garlic way too early, maybe wreaking of the night before, maybe not really wanting to do any of this at all. Realizing you started the washing machine but never made it to the dryer, so you have no clean “clothes” to wear. Too small an operation to have a “service” that does the washing of the towels, aprons, tablecloths and the, well More like a uniform than clothes anymore. But not today, you had time to do all of these things yesterday, so you had a clean uniform waiting for you. 7:04 am. Coffee is ready. Almost time to go.

I choose all black most days. I do have a nice red T-shirt I like to wear, and the first chef’s coat I purchased is Red. Otherwise I’m the man in black, covered in white, from head to toe, flour caked to my ass pockets and cornmeal getting stuck between my toes because Keens seem to be a great shoe to be on your feet all day in. Doc says (my chiropractor Rob Pape) I need a few new pairs now though cuz i wear them out. I have an adjustment lined up for next Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to that. You should all have multiple pairs of shoes if you’re on your feet all day, even change them mid day to help lower back pain. I’m not sure how these last few sentences got here, but We’re jumping to a new subject now.

Winter is on its way, and we are being treated to the last days of our Indian summer. I’m trying to make the most (pizzas) of it, but the crew at Fist of Flour have been sweating these last few shifts for sure. Did I mention the oven runs at a cool 900+°? Its really good-feeling to be outside when the weather is so damn nice. But when its not, well, you know. It kinda sucks really. Last winter we were still getting our chops on the streets, and I definitely got my feet wet several times. Working on the street often means working right on top of an overflowing gutter during a torrential thunderstorm as it casually whips through our little bay area and soaks everything in sight. The old canopy has already been replaced, so the new one has no holes, yet. The little awning out front of the booth collects just enough water in the middle to splash every 3rd or 5th person who comes up when its gusty. I plan to do some rainy gigs just because we’ll have to, but some of the smaller gigs may go away till the spring, like our Monday nights hangin out at Beer Revolution and the 4th and Washington Lunch spot spot Thursdays. We will definitely be representin at our NEW SPOT out on 24th street for the next two Art Murmurs. Make a note we have left the usual spot at 23rd st for a little while while we occupy this empty warehouse space (between Telegraph and Broadway) with food, art, and Oakalnd vibes!

It’s not so bad really, as long as we’re able to set up the canopy, its do-able. Some of you have noticed the “moustache” that lines the doorway of the oven, it doubles as a rain gutter, and forces most of the water to the sides. If the oven is hot enough, the water that does land beyond the stash zone evaporates before it can drip, which is nice. See you out there.

Check our calendar of events often and bookmark us today!

Time slips, but dont trip, the future is just around the corner

October 19th, 2011

It’s approaching 7:20 on a Tuesday night, my night off. Not really possible being self employed. The term night off simply means nothing to cook for anyone tonight. Sweet, time to reflect on the moment. Today’s moment focuses on a new commercial kitchen space I’m considering renting, and it represents the next level of our business here. It already sounds good and I’m hoping it all works.
If it does, the next level can begin. Sure its only the first space I’ve seen, but its got everything we need to move this little operation forward, and I think my partner/friend, well really I’m the partner friend, I think we both think this is the one little nugget thats gonna propel us both in a favorable direction, at least for the next year. I sure hope so, I’m ready to do this.

This weekend proved to me that what I’m doing as a business model is correct. It feels right, more right than a lot of things I’ve tried have felt. Its a lot more tiring than I imagined, and I have seen my day of “working” all night parties, being the last man standing with a broom and a half empty beer close by. This is different. I feel like I’m connecting with people a bit, with them seeing their food being made. I know, its just “pizza” out on the streets, But people are seriously trippin when they see whats going in, the fascination with watching their pizza being pulled from the proofing bin, slapped around, tossed up and down, and stretched to fluffy perfection by hand. Ready to receive those wet, juicy organic tomatoes, the whole milk mozzarella, and the meats and organic veggies, damn. Then its tossed into a 950° wood burning pizza oven. If you are quiet, you can hear the dough squeal as it cooks! Like a little pig.

Pigs rule, by the way. All the best meats for pizza come from pigs as far as I know. Sure there are exceptions, like well, like, umm. Pepperoni, Sausage, salamis, hmm. ok maybe you can mix in a little beef here and there but for the most part, pork is where its at. It on our menus, hope you like it! Find us in your neighborhood

Damn, another month, another Op/ed Blog! FoF keeps on rollin

October 9th, 2011

I’ve probably started a few posts like this by saying, I am blown away by the public response to our pizzas! Already a week into October, and things are moving right along here at FoF headquarters. We just finished up a weekend of gigs, a mix of public and private ones, and things are steady. Phone and email ringin off the hook! Everywhere we go and set up, we just keep hearing how cool it is, how good it is, and how just frickin dope our set up is. I’m starting to believe the hype, but I cannot lose touch of reality. We are a small operation delivering a high quality product in limited supply for a short period of time each week. IF you catch us, you can catch lightning in a bottle. Oh wait, this is a a blog. and I’m writing it.

I can’t help but be stuck on what Customers, folks are saying every time we go out. Our pizza is delicious and unique. it’s ready in a relatively short amount of time, even with a two person crew, and its consistently good. I frickin love pizza, but theres a big problem here in America with Pizza. its too thick, too greasy, too salty, too, Blahhhhh. too overwhelming. In fact, a few weeks a go I went to a place i consider to be good family style american pie, and well we ordered wrong. or those kids workin back there were too heavy handed. It was awful, I gagged actually taking a bite of a Pepperoni, mushroom and olive pizza. there were more ingredients on that one bite than there are on most of my pizzas. I’m omitting the name of this place because i know it was mostly our fault for ordering a three topping pie, but some of the blame has to lay on the hands making it. and when it got to me, I was like ohhh dang. gross, and I do not use that term lightly when it comes to pizza.

I’m hoping that by going out every week, making thin crust, high quality pizza on the streets, that I start to change peoples ideas about pizza. I’m not sure how the other guys do it, making greasy, tasteless junk over and over again. I cannot duplicate this process, I have tried to increase the orange grease that oozes from a good NY slice, but I can’t make it run all over my arm. Thank goodness! we are all too fat, and need to eat less, and more healthy alternatives. If you’re gonna carb up, shouldn’t it at least be Darn good? I believe so, I think so, and I make it so. Every week. Come find us, and try for yourself. Pizza to the people.

did I forget to mention we are now selling The brand new OMFG Bumper stickers for $2 each at select events. It says “OMFG street food is not a crime” and is a message to city hall, and anyone listening. Our city needs change and it needs that change soon. sure street food is not going to eliminate crime or prostitution, but it may help create jobs, and give folks a healthy new alternative to fast food here in our great city. its certainly not going to Increase crime. Hell it may actually promote neighborhood awareness and give folks a chance to come out and meet over a light dinner or a quick street snack. sorry step back two feet, what is the OMFG you ask? The OMFG is a group of oakland based street food enthusiasts working hard to change the face of street food in oakland. We need your support. Following last week’s article in the East Bay Express, a few of us got together and came up with the idea. your 2$ goes towards promoting the street food culture here in Oaktown, and helps us pay for flyers, stickers, and promotional materials about our upcoming events. you can purchase them at upcoming FOF events. Check our calendar for the latest schedule!
see you on the streets.

Indian summer and a travelling pizza oven, september at Fist of Flour

August 29th, 2011

I sit, extremely tired, at the end of another month. One last gig tomorrow at Beer Revolution, and August comes to a close. Pretty darn amazing. Amazing i made it through my first summer as a legal and sometimes not so legal street food vendor. Yes I said it sometimes not. And I do this for a couple of reasons, both of which I’m not sure are going to get me anywhere, but right now its what I believe in. The First reason is because I love the thrill of going out and meeting people, and sharing my product and my creation with the community.

Take for example, yesterdays happening at the Berkeley Art Museum, and I do believe it was just that. Totally happening. Celebrating 40 years of Alice Water’s Chez Panise and the Edible schoolyard, OPENRestaurant organized an amazing day of Food activities including a Pedal Powered Grinding Food mill contraption, Live goats for milking, fresh made soups, Aguas frescas, and tamales right on the premesis. I took part in the Baking of several dozen loaves of Digger’s Bread, and meeting two of the original SF Diggers. not to mention Working with Steve Sullivan from ACME bakery, and Chris Sollars, and SF based artist and super cool dude. I think we all got a little toasty under the sun, along with the close to 200 Little loaves we baked in two ovens (guesstimate) we had 50 lbs. of Flour, and we did 9 oz. cans mostly. 4 main batches of 40-50 cans each. The second oven was supplied by Quill from Paso Robles, he hand builds Massive bread ovens for people, and needed to bring this one up to the Bay Area to ship it off to its owner in Hawaii. We got to hear some great stories from the mid to late 60′s era free food movement these folks were promoting and powering though with, feeding hundreds of people and doing what was necessary to build community. The whole event had a great vibe and it was a pleasure to take part in it.

The second reason is I knead the dough, you knough? Times are tough all around but people always need good food. The Bay Area is full of Legitimate opportunities for a Temporary Food Facility like mine. Yes, a TFF as it is known down at the County Health Department, and in order for a TFF to get a permit, the event needs to be acknowledged by that very same department, provided they are contacted by the event organizers and are notified of said event. The organizer needs to obtain a Permit to allow permits to be obtained by Vendors. Basically I can’t get a permit from the county if they don’t know the event exists, that’s how it works in this county, Alameda. Just for the record, I know this. I get permits for every event that asks me to obtain one.

I would get a year round permit from them, but they have yet to figure out how to allow my trailer to be permitted. I’m too big for a push cart and too exposed to be considered as a “Taco Truck.” In their defense, I have not tried too hard investigating how to get my trailer up to “Code,” if there is such a thing for a mobile Pizza Oven. Sometimes things happen that don’t follow protocol, and sometimes I participate in them, operating under the same guidelines and conditions we follow with permits.

My shit is legit. Our food is safe, blast-furnace style cooking at 950° ensures proper cooking of all ingredients. Hot and cold running water with soap can wash any utensils onsite. I’ve been inspected by Berkeley, Alameda, SF, and Contra Costa Co. and have passed every time, learning more each time we go out. For example, did you know that the fire extinguishers you buy at the Box stores are disposable? They can’t be recharged or checked by a fire inspector, so we gotta upgrade those to ones that can be. My propane set up, though directly under the outside corner of the oven, proved to be safe and not leaking. My Fire is completely contained, check. Ice in trays, check. lids on everything, check.

Next stop, Art Murmur Permit in hand, we’ll be rolling out this friday to kick off September here in the bay area. Check our website for the latest schedule updates here: Calendar of Events
See you next time on the streets.