Last year, Will and I hosted our wedding in our backyard. It was intended to be simple, not to drive us crazy, and to jive with our busy lives. Still, it occupied every spare moment. From interior painting to sangria tasting to prettying up straw bales to cutting cloth napkins from old bed sheets, it was a whirlwind of Pinterest searching, errand running, decision making, and detail priming. Every. Spare. Moment.
As exhausted as we were (finishing sangrias ‘til 2 a.m. the night before), there was a little brain-magic that happened as we spied on our guests gathering in the backyard before it began. Suddenly and without warning, it all became worth it. A little like birthing a child, I suppose. All that stress, all that work, all that pain, and it was suddenly worth it. (Forgive me birth mamas. Childbirth and event planning are, at best, loosely relatable.) Point is, the hardship fades into the background and you realize that something very special has happened that makes all that work suddenly worth it.
I suspect many events are like that: the planning, the headache, the stress, the heartache, the lists, the minor and major freak-outs, the sleepless nights, the backache, the pleas for it to just—for God’s sake—be over already. And then. The smiles. The laughter. The joy. The relief. (I once read that people somehow stave off death until after major holidays and events. Perhaps we are evolutionarily wired for ensuring that we all come together, even for one last hurrah.)
Last fall, the Northwest Washington Chefs Collaborative gathered around southern delicacies of pork, red beans and rice, grits, and biscuits at Chef Gabriel’s dining room table. A simple monthly meeting of this young group was hijacked by their building excitement as they got a collective bee in their bonnet to host an event to celebrate local farms and local food. The conversation and initial planning was electrifying. From its genesis over grits, this group spent the next nine months planning, procuring, and preparing the Field-to-Flame feast on August 30.
The chefs included our very own Will Annett, owner/chef of Pizza’zza; Mataio Gillis owner/chef of Ciao Thyme; Patrick Durgan, executive chef at Western Washington University; Josh Silverman, former chef/owner of Dashi Noodle Bar and Nimbus; Gabriel Claycamp of Jack Mountain Meats; Arlene Mantha, chef/owner of twofifty flora; and Crave Catering. Artisan beverages were prepared by Sara Sutherland, owner of the Electric Beet Juice Company and Sustainable Connections Food and Farming Program Manager; Onyx Coffee; and Boundary Bay Brewery.
Consider for a moment that these are folks who have full-time (plus some) jobs running and building businesses, managing programs, and in Sara’s case, both. To make an event like this happen, they stepped away from busy restaurants, personal commitments to family and friends, and myriad other responsibilities. They overcame obstacle after obstacle all in the name of good, local food. And for this, I just want to take a moment to give tribute to their work and dedication.
No event goes off without a hitch. There is always something that tries the patience of even the most serene and seasoned event planner. But these guys faced more than their fair share of turmoil. For starters, after all the promotional materials had been posted and printed, the original event site fell through. Fortunately, the beautiful site at Boxx Berry Farm was available on short notice.
Despite planning their menus well in advance to allow plenty of time to make connections with local growers and ensure that everything was in place for the big day, they ran into multiple sourcing issues due to our unusually warm summer, farmer relocations, meat processor recalls, and other unforeseen complications. Despite these issues, they kept the meal 100% locally sourced. 100%, folks. That's a huge accomplishment and took hours of dedication to a singular purpose.
These struggles are enough in and of themselves, but add the worst wind-storm in a decade and multiple power outages the day before the event, and you have a prescription for crazy making, for sure.
But here’s the thing. No one lost their marbles. As far as I could tell, no one even blinked and not a single feather was ruffled. And this isn’t just the view of a guest who can’t see the chaos of the kitchen from her comfy seat. I was in the kitchen all weekend helping with prep and clean-up. There were no tears (as far as I could see). No one threw up their hands and walked out when we lost power. No break-downs when it didn’t come back on. No tantrums when they found out we could only run off a single generator at the farm. This was a kitchen full of cool cucumbers, I tell you. And here’s the kicker – they were all smiling. I kid you not. Even at the end of the day and after only a one and a half hour nap that served as a substitute for a full night’s rest, they were pleasant and smiling.
And all those volunteers who generously gave their time on the day of and in the days leading up to the event, I bow to you as well. You left your homes and responsibilities to join others in a feast to celebrate the thing that brings us together time and time again—our food. Thank you.
In simple celebration for the bounty our little corner of the world provides, this event was a tremendous success that goes well beyond the actual dollar amount raised and speaks to the connections made between people, connections between those growing our food, those cooking our food, and those eating our food. So, I pay simple homage to this amazing group of growers, producers, chefs, and the fine folks at Sustainable Connections. Without you, our hearts and bellies wouldn’t be filled with the bounty of this incredible slice of land we call home.
Thank you for everything you do!
Do you see that? That's Will's father's day gift and physical proof that there is no faster way to a child’s heart than through pizza.
They too know this natural law over at Common Threads Farm. They know that in order to get a child to fall in love with growing, preparing, and eating real food, you have to focus the education around easy to like favorites. And what’s everyone’s favorite? Pizza, of course.
Last week we had the rare privilege of hosting Common Thread’s Camp Pizza as they ate their way through Fairhaven while learning the intricacies of making a great pie. From sprouting of the first seed to the finished, hot-from-the-oven slice, Camp Pizza walks kids through the story of their pizza by giving them hands-on and tastebuds-on experience growing, harvesting, preparing and eating their very own pies. As a part of this adventure, they field-tripped it (literally for one scrapped up little camper we Band-aided) from their home base at WWU’s Outback Farm to our Fairhaven location, then to the Wednesday Farmers Market and onto Drizzle for an olive oil tasting.
Fully cementing their ambitions of pizza tossing fame, Will showed these youngins how to correctly toss pizza dough, spread it lovingly with sauce, load toppings for the perfect ratio of toppings to crust, and guide the creation carefully toward the flame to ensure our signature crust crispness.
And these kids are smart cookies. They were asking fabulous questions, like “Do you make your own cheese?” and “Do you grind the flour you use for your dough?” Wow! These are kids who’ve learned a thing or two about food.
And I’ll tell you, they were certainly happy campers when they left. Look at those faces.
To top it off, we got these beautiful thank you cards a little later. High praise indeed: “I love, love, love your pizza” and “Thank you for the best pizza ever!”
Common Threads, it looks like we won over another small band of influential kids in the fight for real, locally grown, delicious food.
Looking to grow a good eater or two? Check out Common Threads’ summer camps.
Copyright © 2015 Pizzazza, All rights reserved.
I hope you have been enjoying these warm, lazy days of…. Summertime. And we hope the livin’ has been easy. Plenty of hammock time. Plenty of kickin’ back and watching the sunset. Plenty of play time.
For us, not so much. Not this year. That’s not to say that we aren’t totally in love with our garden and enjoying the simple pleasures that come with grazing on backyard berries and squealing with delight when our first tomato and first melon show their wee little globular heads. And it is with startled satisfaction (and maybe a little fear?) that we watch the pie pumpkin gain feet of sprawl in a few short days and rule supreme over the less ambitious plants. (Is it our imagination, or is that vine headed for the back door?)
Frankly though, we’re exhausted. While you've been out enjoying all that northwest Washington has to offer, we’ve been slaving away. Yes, pleasurably in the garden at times, but mostly we’ve been scheming, running around, and losing sleep this summer so that we can present you with a special gift come fall.
"Gift? How thoughtful. What gift?" you say.
Well, we were thinking about you, our beloved customer, and thinking about how you enjoy the outdoors and all the events and activities that Whatcom County has to offer, so we've been building you a little something to make your play time tastier.
Do you want just one teeny tiny little peek? Yes? Okay. I’ll pull back a corner of the decorative wrapping to give you the slightest glimpse. Go ahead, shake it. Rattle it. Guess its contents. But don’t open it until those pumpkins have been turned into pie.
Awe, am I teasing you? Am I tormenting you? Am I tantalizing you with a glimpse, but only a glimpse? Yes, shamelessly, I am.
Oops. Wrong photo.
That was an early idea, but Woodstone said the oven needed something a wee bit bigger.
There we go. That's the real thing. Do you see that? That’s a drawing of our dream and our gift. With hard work and perseverance (don’t all good things come this way), it’s coming to life as we hash out the final design details with our friends at TriVan in Ferndale. That’s right. These fine folks are expertly crafting our third location. A third location on wheels. Wheels? Yep, wheels. This puppy will be able to bring our delicious pizza to you! Same great pizza cooked in the same locally made Woodstone oven. (Yes, friends, we are putting a 3600 pound oven on a mobile pizza trailer. Only our buddies at TriVan are talented enough to pull that one off!)
Watch for it this fall. Pizza’zza Mobile will be where you are: your favorite festivals, concerts, and fairs; your best friend’s wedding; parked next to your favorite brewery; or at your hip company picnic. Pizza’zza Mobile will bring Bellingham’s favorite pizza to you. And we are so excited about it; we just had to peel back the shiny paper and let you take just the smallest peek inside.
Already planning an event and thinking Pizza'zza Mobile would be the perfect addition? Let's chat: email@example.com. We're booking events for November onward.
Copyright © 2015 Pizzazza, All rights reserved.
What do you call a bull that sleeps?
A bull dozer.
Our kids love that one.
Have you seen the bulldozers in front of our Fairhaven location? If you’re like other folks we’ve heard from recently, you’re wondering why they are snoozing there. If you’re a pretty sharp cookie, you’ve also noticed that there is a conspicuous piece of parking lot equipment that appears to be missing. Yep, you guessed it – the gas tanks!
Okay, I can’t help myself. Just one more.
What 10-letter word starts with g-a-s?
I know. Groan. That one didn’t pass the kid test, sailing right over their wee-little heads, but I included it for your reading pleasure anyway.
Okay, so seriously. What’s up with Fairhaven? You’ve twisted my arm. It’s actually pretty exciting, and I think you’ll be pleased in the end when the bull(dozer) wakes and ambles back home. Basically the gas pumps are coming out. The pumps were old and the Yorkston family, owners of Yorky’s Markets, discovered they were leaking and immediately started the removal process and clean-up of the contaminated soil surrounding the old tanks.
It’s a good thing because “anyone who thinks the price of gas is too high, raise your right foot.” Get it? Stole that one right off the good ‘ol internet. Did you know that National Tell a Joke Day is right around the corner on August 16? I digress.
Seriously, folks. More parking is no laughing matter. For those of you who can’t raise your right foot off the gas pedal, yanking the gas tanks gives you more parking options in front of Yorky’s. More convenience is always a good thing.
There are more changes afoot inside the store. Yorky’s is doing some interior revamping. No major remodels yet, but with the gas tanks gone, they will transition away from a convenience store model to a bottle shop concept. While you’ll still be able to get some of your traditional convenience store favorites and mail a package at the post office along the way, you’ll also be able to browse a robust selection of wine and beer. And what tasty beverage goes best with pizza? Mmm hmm.
So, take home message: don’t be afraid! Tiptoe past the sleeping bull(dozer) outside and keep visiting us. We’re open and ready to serve you a fresh pie hot from the oven. And just think, all the inconvenience of walking around the fence to get to us will be over in about two weeks and worth the wait.
If I were you, I’d start planning your picnics now. Where will you take Pizza’zza and your favorite cold one? The Village Green? Boulevard Park? Marine Park? Or maybe you’ll enjoy the gas pump-free view so much, you’ll set up for dinner on the bench outside the market. Either way, pick up your pizza and beverage and head to your favorite strip of green grass or rocky shoreline to munch and sip under our plentiful summer sun.
Hold your bottles high; let’s toast to change and growth!
Okay, I’m going to get to the point quickly, folks. This is the moment you've been waiting for. You want to know how you can win free pizza and tickets to the Field-to-Flame Brunch, yes?
Okay, here it is… Drum roll please…
Here’s what’s up for grabs:
Want to know how you can get in on that action? It’s easy, and you might be doing it already. Here’s how.
Not familiar with Pizza’zza Rewards? There are plenty of other reasons besides Freezza’zza to sign up. Here’s the low-down on membership.
“SIGN ME UP!”
We thought you’d say that. Because we’re all about personal choice, here’s 3 ways to sign-up.
Grand Prize: One year of free Pizza’zza pizza ($50 gift card per month) + 2 tickets to the Field-to-Flame Brunch ($774 value)
If you’re already a Pizza’zza Rewards member, or if you were so excited that you've already followed the link and signed-up online, you can still download the Royalty Rewards app. Once you've downloaded it, just enter your name and card number on the “Card” tab to generate a member barcode that you can use in place of your card when you visit the restaurant.
There you go, unburdened again. We're about making your life easier. You're welcome.
Once you’re ready to go with Pizza’zza Rewards card or app in hand, just swipe the card or let our staff scan the barcode in the app to have your purchase counted and to be entered into the contest.
And remember, more swipes and scans = more chances to win. You can’t beat free Pizza’zza for a year AND tickets to the Field-to-Flame brunch. We look forward to seeing more of you over the next few weeks!
*You can enter without being a Rewards Member. Instructions and full contest rules will be posted at both locations on June 22.