Two, vans, two ovens, two crews comin just for you Bay Area!

January 22nd, 2013

Well, after our last post being so dramatic, I thought I’d bring everyone up to speed with all things Fist of Flour. I’m happy to report that all is well here. In fact, we are moving forward with great speed these days. We’ve added another person to the roster, we’re looking for one more, and we’re flushing out the kinks in our two trailer world.

We finally did it! After months of preparations, purchasing, and procrastinating, we are now capable of running two small scale gigs at the same time, or same day. Sunday January 20th, 2013 will go down in history as our first successful Double mission. I was with the old oven down at a local eatery, BSIDE BBQ catering their staff holiday party, and Zac and Mia ran the big oven over at Commonwealth Cafe & Pub for our joint venture Pub trivia night.

Lucky for me, Zac was nearby. Someone forgot to check to see that he had everything he needed in the mini van to do a small catering gig. I forgot the Metal peel which is pretty much Essential for removing pizzas from the oven, and I forgot a clip light, which is also essential for cooking outdoors at night. I think we lost the metal peel we had on board, so I didn’t technically forget it. I sent my newest assistant James over to Commonwealth to get spare items from the big van. This is why I have at least two of everything, and why the big van is so full of random stuff.

The mini van has been all kitted out now. The paint job and new tires really make it look sharp. Got all the decals done by our friends down at FastSigns Oakland. We also had them print up some new Front of house signage, two big matching banners, one for each tent. Now you can see my fist from miles away. We had to fix the old tent that broke a few months back while we were serving the Bay Area Derby Girls at the Richmond craneway. The old oven’s patchwork is holding nicely, but the trailer still has a little wobble. I’ve got a friend and former Street food enthusiast enlisted to help with moving the oven forward, and rebalancing the trailer properly. We’re gearing up to make some modifications to the old beast like adding some side panels to the underside, putting in a door, and customizing the countertops a bit more.

Finally, we’re trying some new things at gigs now too! We’ve added a Mac N Cheese single serving to the menu at certain locations, and we’ll be offering more salads to have alongside or on top of our fresh hot pizza. The pizza menu is also growing and changing as we play around in the test kitchen, which just got some new matching gas ovens. After working with the stone floors of our mobile units, traditional metal trays just don’t cut it, so I fitted a couple sheet pans with firebricks to cook on, just like the ones we used in our first oven. We’ll be better able to simulate the crispy texture of our Street pizzas, and kill them by sticking them in cardboard boxes.

We’ve started offering Limited delivery service to Prizefighter Bar in Emeryville Wednesday nights, and as that grows we’ll be spreading it to more bars that lack good food to drink with. At least that’s the plan. If we can master delivery, we may start offering Limited delivery service from many of our gigs in and around Oakland. If you live within 1-2 miles of our current location and our mini van is available, or you’re drinking at a favorite bar and you spot one of our delivery flyers, we’ll come to you! But give me a few weeks to get this all figured out. Pretty soon, you won’t necessarily need facebook to find us, because we’ll already be there!

The Webster Tube, It’s wider and longer than you’d think

December 13th, 2012

Good morning folks. it is now the day after one of the scariest things that could happen almost did. I started writing this last night while it was fresh in my mind.

What I am about to write is true, only the names of the parties involved have been omitted for reasons of security.

I write to you from the safety of my home. Well comforted with a belly full of Shepard’s Pie from one of my favorite pubs here in Oakland, Commonwealth Pub. It’s time I sit back and make a new blog post, to recount a tale of both heroic victory and glimpses of catastrophic failure. Today I sent my newest assistant slash “me in training” off on what could have seemed like a doomsday mission, to drive the first Pizza oven through the Webster tube out to the Navy Base to practice Field manoeuvers. I figured this will be swell, great, no problem. The tube may make him pay attention, this will be fun.

I was wrong, here’s why. The new minivan is quite low to the ground, so the tow hitch and ball needs to be raised up to the proper height to keep the trailer level. I bought this two piece adjustable trailer hitch thinking this would be ideal. It adjusts to the height you need, but it has more play in it than an episode of the X-factor. I did not realize how potentially funky this could be. We hitched up and headed for our target. Everything was fine for a test drive across Emeryville until we hit the tunnel. The transition from Light to dark was a bit strong, and a white beemer was flanking us and would not pass. We got speed wobbles and that led to the trailer whipping back and forth from side to side in the left lane of the tunnel, surrounded by cars and walls made of solid concrete.

Brakes were applied but not effective, and the trailer was pitching back and forth, skidding from side to side, like one of my many nightmares. You could smell the tires burning. After about 12 fishtails without a significant crash, I’m thinking this is still going on and we haven’t actually T-boned yet…I decided to interject with all I could think of, Downshift! Without speaking I grabbed the shifter and dropped it to 1st gear from the passenger seat. That and braking at a constant pressure helped bring everything back into control. My assistant and I nearly came to a crawl in the tunnel, hearts pounding as the trailer regained control slowly, both of us wondering how that didn’t just result in a total catastrophic clusterfuck in the middle of a concrete tube. The guy who was closest to being whipped by the oven and debris gave us a dirty look when he passed. I was like hey it could’ve been worse…

We collected our assholes gathering them up from the floor around us, and continued on around the bend a bit till we could pull over safely and figure out just what the fuck happened back there and how we are not both on stretchers trying to explain to EMT’s what happened. We quickly changed out the hitches for the one i had on board that was too low, but seemed to tow a lot better. We continued onto operation Parking lot like true professionals. Shaken, but not stirred.

My favorite proving ground for trailer navigation is out near the Alameda Skatepark. There’s a lot of open space and usually not too many people around to give you any crap about what you’re doing. Except for today. Apparently, the navy base is divided up a bit between public and private land. The parking lot of the Skatepark is public, but the area across the street is private. We now know this because it was impermissable for us to practice backing up, turning around, and general evasive actions in an empty parking lot. Security was all over us, so we had to move it across the street which wasn’t nearly as fun. We spent a good hour driving the trailer backwards in circles, up little ramps, and around the big hunk of concrete until I was satisfied my assistant was thoroughly dizzy and familiar with the navigation. He’ll need more practice, but he’ll have to get that out on the streets of Oakland. God help us! Cuz we’re rollin two deep now!

2.0 settling in, 1.0 resurrecting itself in a minivan?

November 14th, 2012

What is it you ask I am doing these days? Quite honestly, I don’t know. Trying to do something else with my life with very little guidance. This is the one thing I’ve truly followed through on. So much so that I can’t stop now. It’s getting real up in this parking lot.

Two beasts in the parking lot of the Bitchen Kitchen

People ask me all the time, how do I get me one of these things? A pizza oven trailer, and I laugh, sometimes just a smile, sometimes out loud guffawing, and I say, buddy, you don’t want one of these, much less two of them! Our new massive pizza oven is great, really working well for me. In the last month we’ve cranked out close to 1200 pizzas, our integrity is still there, the product is generally cooking faster, and we’re serving more pizza. Exactly what I had intended. Go big or go home was the motto, and I think that was the right decision.

Picking up the brand new commercial oven

Now that the death star is fully operational, its time to turn my focus back to the original trailer. It’s been hanging out at Linden St. brewery since the beginning of October. Just this week I went over there to check on it after the last round of rain, and we found a new place for it to live closer to the brewery itself. All the guys down there have been really excited, playing games of “will it bake” and keeping it warm for our Thursday nights. She can still make pizzas, it just shouldn’t be driven around too much right now.

Its fragile, and over Thanksgiving I’m going to get a crew in there to patch it up and see if we can’t get another 5000 pizzas out of it before we retire it completely. If we can make it through Summer and we can start running smaller gigs with that, then I can eventually pop that oven off, and replace it with a smaller version of our big oven. At least that’s the theory. The oven was designed to come off in the event of crumble-age. It’s funny after using the new oven, seeing it on Monday morning with a fire in it I was like, dang, how did we do all of that with this little oven? I’m still amazed.

1.0 Parked in its new spot at Linden St. Brewery

Before all of the last two years happened, and before I found shorty the short bus, I had been seeking the perfect Oven transporter, a minivan with All Wheel Drive, perhaps a Chevy Astro or GMC Safari to replace my Chevy S-10 Pickup. The pickup was a great Little 4 cylinder that I drove the crap out of for 15 years, but it was not designed to tow a small pizza oven around. That became obvious the third or fourth time i tried backing it up the driveway. I now know what bent bumper looks like and burnt clutch smells like…

I was surfing Craigslist every day for a new vehicle. For two months I was watching one Astro van from a nearby dealer with all the options I wanted. When I got the $$ to buy something, finally with capital in hand I ran down there and was told it had just been sold. Really, I just saw it online this morning? WTF? Well lucky for me, the ad for Shorty appeared the next day and that was that. Sold. Minivan put on hold, until last Monday.

$horty Too, the next pizza transporter

For the last couple months I was repeating the pattern, searching once again for the minivan of my dreams to resurrect the original oven and complete the original idea. Looked up a known purveyor of minivans and lo and behold, my lil Safari was parked smack dab in the middle of San Leandro. All wheel drive, tinted window mini cargo van with some shelving already in place. I found myself in San Leandro with a few hours to kill a couple weeks ago and decided to go take a test drive while i waited for Shorty’s new brake system and trailer wiring to be installed. The dealer was just a 20 minute stroll through one forgotten landscape. San leandro is a trippy place to say the least. The 70′s are calling and they want their decade back. I do kind of like it down there, it reminds me of much of the mid peninsula area i grew up in without the benefit of the Silicon valley boom, lying there waiting for a rediscovery.

Painted and awaiting Decals! Photoshop Comp

I bought the minivan and have named it $horty Too. My good mid peninsula friend Pete once again offered to do all the paint work on it, and viola, over a weekend and 1.0 is ready for a rebirth. A close match to Shorty’s stylings, with Flat black side panels, white top, and red grill and bumpers. The decals are coming in the next couple weeks, and we’ll be customizing it just a little more before we roll it out and start towing the old oven with it. New tires, painting the rims red, adding chrome rings, and outfitting the inside with the necessary gear to run a small party of up to 70-80 people. Our compact unit will be perfect for those awkward driveway situations, or renegade neighborhood record store parties, Mac N’ Cheese nights across from the patio at Beer revolution, and who knows what other trouble I can get us into. Stay tuned as we send two fists into the streets of Oakland and beyond!

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.

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