And so it begins….
My quest began sometime in June 2014, sitting with a glass of lemonade and more family members than you could shake a pizza peel at.
Before I finish that story, some background information is in order. My name is Kylie, Kylie Holland if you want to get fancy, Kylie Kies Holland if you’re my mother and I’ve misplaced something rather important, like a young cousin (it happens to everyone, right?) But I digress.
I am 15, a sophomore in a Bay Area school that’s a hop, skip, and a train ride away from San Francisco. Last June, my father’s family decided to convene in Nantucket for a brief reunion. Upon discovering a well-written bike/hike map, my mother rented us all bicycles and announced a trip to a local brewery! Huzzah, some of us were underage, but, no matter, we were going to drink lemonade.
First, we promptly got lost. That, however, is not important. What is important is that we persevered because, had we not, this would be a pretty non-existent blog. We found our way thanks to an exceedingly kind local (and in spite of some less than amiable truckers). Once at our destination, my sisters (Devon, 14, Piper, 12) and I discovered, to our utter joy, that the Brewery had a contract with a food truck.
Actually, what the proprietors had was way better ⎯ A pizza stand, but not just any pizza stand. Beneath that canvas shield stood Steve, owner and founder of Roamin’ Pizzeria. In case the name didn’t tip you off, he owns the only mobile pizza oven on Nantucket (not entirely surprising, given that Nantucket only has 10,000 or so inhabitants, but impressive nonetheless).
Now, this isn’t a Roamin’ Pizzeria advert, just a wholehearted endorsement of Steve (and his amazingly delicious pizza you MUST have if you ever go to Nantucket). Alas I must move on from Nantucket and transport you back to my hometown circa July 2014, via an untested atom transference machine. Provided we arrive in less than three pieces, and one of those pieces contains both our brain and our ears, we’ll be treated to a discussion about Quest.
At my school Quest is a year-long independent study/passion project. Basically the school tells us to go find something we like and explore it for a year. Last year, I recreated Henry Thoreau’s Walden Pond. I decided you couldn’t understand Thoreau unless you lived his life so I took up woodworking and built a chair, bed, table and cabin, learned to sew some clothes and learned about edible plants. Let’s just say chickweed looks way too much like poison oak for my tastes and leave it at that.
After long deliberation, filled with no end of stress eating trying to figure out this year’s “passion,” I remembered Steve’s pizza, and decided to recreate his mobile pizza oven enterprise for myself, or at least try.
Wait, she’s talking about pizza? You ask incredulously, finger hovering over the back button. Don’t go yet! I’m finally getting to the good parts! I write up a Quest proposal submit it to my school, and get the OK (provided I bring in a few pizza samples sometime along the way — for academic purposes only, of course).
My first stop is the internet. I buy a few books on bread and pizza making, look up some tutorials…and that’s where the process ground to a stop. You see, I can build small cabins and make reasonably decent looking skirts (provided your eyes don’t linger on the hem), but masonry is not my strong suit. I needed help.
First I emailed Steve, who recommended the Fire Within to me. I checked out the website, looked at the workshop dates, realized it was in Boulder (and that the workshop season was over), and ended pretty much where I started.
Then, a breakthrough. My Aunt Sharon belonged to a club, and one of her fellow members had built himself a pizza oven and was known as a great cook (and a seriously nice guy). I met my first mentor, Paul Molnar, for a couple of hours and came out of the meeting with a business card, three pages of notes, and another recommendation, Forno Bravo Ovens. Angelic choir
I was heading home from a Model United Nations conference in Monterey and Forno Bravo was on the way home. So I set up a meeting with Timothy Cole on a Sunday at Forno Bravo’s headquarters in Salinas. Yes, I said Sunday, even though they are only open M-F, Timothy Cole, Forno Bravo’s tremendous COO, was kind enough to meet us on his day off, for which I will be eternally grateful!
We pulled up at Forno Bravo and went inside. The next hour and a half, well, quite frankly, it was amazing! So many pizza ovens! So many business opportunities! He walked us through Forno Bravo’s history, its showroom and its current business. He spent a ton of time giving me my first real tutorial on the mobile pizza oven business. I walked out knowing the oven I wanted, leads on trailer makers, tips on next steps, another ringing endorsement of Fire Within’s workshop and pages of notes (seriously, at this point in time, I’m probably a leading cause of deforestation). I also promised to blog my journey to help others as he and so many others are helping me.
That’s where I am now. A head full of ideas and a rough draft plan. With a little luck, a lot of work (and probably more than a few burns), I hope to start a successful venture. I’ve probably exceeded a word limit (and your patience), so I’ll end here but stay tuned for the next installment in the adventures of A Girl and Her Dragon Pizza.