5 robots taking foodservice jobs today

Across the world of foodservice, robots are getting hired for the jobs us pathetic humans used to do.

What’s the driving force behind it?  Price, novelty, oh and fewer mistakes.  To err is human after all.  Here are five jobs that robots are sneaking their wheelie feet in the door with and the countries that are hosting them.

1. Sweden: Kebab Slicing Robot

This bad boy was on display at the FastFood & Café Expo in Stockholm.  It makes the perfect cut of shoarma meat so your employees don’t have to!


    2. France: Ordering Kiosk

    France, which boasts some of the best labor rights in the world, is also the country which has the most ordering kiosks.  In fast food restaurants, touchscreen automated kiosks are commonplace.  A representative at SoftCaisse explained that ‘hiring’ a kiosk is about 3 times more cost effective than hiring a human.  Plus, you don’t have to put up with their whining or worry about them showing up on time!

    parizza, softcaisse, pmq

    3. Italy: 24/7 Automated Pizzaiolo

    Many of the pizza vending machines on the market today finish baking a par-baked or even fully prepared fresh pizza.   But Let’s Pizza lets you have the full experience of watching a pizzaiolo through a pizza shop window, except it’s a robot doing the job.  This pizza only takes 2.5 minutes to be mixed, topped and baked which begs the question, why would you use one of these if you’re in Italy?

    4. Australia: Robot Pizza Delivery

    Now launched at Domino’s in Germany and the Netherlands, Domino’s delivery robot DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit) is taking to the sidewalks.  The droid was first developed with the help of an Australian company using “military technology” and has proven to be less dangerous, less regulation bound and much cuter than delivery drones.

  2. 5. San Francisco: Sandwich making machine

    Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be SO complicated.  Now with the Bistrobot, located in San Franciso’s Bernal Heights district, you can have a machine make one for you.  It looks like the company hasn’t advanced with more sandwich building technology since 2015 or maybe they’re just keeping their next product… under wraps.


Your Symbiotic Relationship with Customers

Control. To call one’s own shots. To be the master of your own destiny. That’s part of the American Dream; part of the entrepreneurial dream.  

Every entrepreneur has worked for bosses somewhere along the way that they didn’t see eye-to-eye with. You may have had your own ideas about how things should be run.  And one day you knew you’d eventually be the head honcho.  This is a theme in an old Roy Oribson song, “Workin For The Man.”

Oh Well I’m pickin em up, and I’m layin em down
I believe he’s gonna work me right into the ground
I pull to the left, heave to the right. I wanna kill the man but it wouldn’t be right
Cause I’m working for the man, working for the man
So I slave all day without much pay, cause I’m just bidin’ my time
Cause the company and the daughter, you see, they’re both gonna be all mine
Yeah, I’m gonna be the man, gonna be the man.

But will you REALLY control your own destiny, even when you become “The Man”? What IS control? In The Matrix Reloaded, Councillor Hamman poses the question to Neo who insists the machines in Zion are under their control:

Councillor Harmann: Down here, sometimes I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines I… I can’t help thinking that in a way… we are plugged into them.   

Neo: But we control these machines; they don’t control us.  

Councillor Harmann: Of course not. How could they? The idea is pure nonsense. But… it does make one wonder… just… what is control?  

Neo: If we wanted, we could shut these machines down.  

Councillor Harmann: That’s it. You hit it. That’s control, isn’t it? If we wanted we could smash them to bits. Although, if we did, we’d have to consider what would happen to our lights, our heat, our air…  

Sure, you might have developed five of the most perfect pizza recipes of all time….but what if the general public won’t buy them at a price that generates a profit point? Can you afford to keep them on the menu? Do you call the shots, or does the consumer? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Just as the machines in the Matrix can’t survive without humans who also can’t survive without machines, a boss is in a symbiotic relationship with her/his customers.

Consumers respond to a number of factors. Taste, perceived quality, price point, service, atmosphere and experience, and sometimes even human relationships. These factors also exist in a symbiotic balance.
Finding the sweet spot requires tweaking and fine-tuning.  It also requires information from your customers.

Now that I’ve got you thinking about symbiotic relationships and communication, maybe it’s time to take stock of yours. You may be doing enough communicating on your end, but how do you improve your listening skills when it comes to the consumer?

Fortunately, in the information age, it’s never been easier. Your consumers live on their smartphones and in their social media spheres. Go where they live! I’m going to leave you with this tip today: Twitter polls.  If you’re not on Twitter – get on it. But if you are, and have a lot of followers, you can take advantage of surveying specific questions with a twitter poll.

You can make a poll about anything you want. Whether people like a particular dish, how they feel about items you’re thinking about adding to a menu, what to name a new product, what area you should expand to, even who they think is going to win the big game if you just want to have fun creating interaction with a poll.

To learn how to set up a Twitter poll, here’s Twitter’s article explaining it: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20174524

Hope I’ve given you some food for thought. Until next time, take the red pill.

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3 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Isn’t Working for You (and How to Change That)

By Bruce Irving
So you say social media just doesn’t work for you? You’ve given it the old college try and decided it was a waste of time? Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Social media is a new marketing tool, and you simply may not know how to use it correctly at this point. Here are three reasons it might not be working for you—and what you can do about it.

1. You don’t have a strategy. This is the most important reason. If you have a strategy and a plan of action and you stick to it consistently, it will work for you. Trust me. But if you’re just posting stuff and hoping for the best, you will not get the results you’re looking for. All too often I see restaurateurs post something on Facebook once, then three or four days later, they post something else; two weeks go by, and they’ll post again, and then a full month goes by before the next post. Then they give up and say, “Well, Facebook doesn’t work for me!”

To develop a strategy, you must first spend time on the platform—whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat—and learn how it works. Before you try to market with, say, Instagram, spend some time being a user of Instagram. The more you use it—and study how other successful restaurateurs are using it—the better you’ll understand it, and soon you can develop the strategy you need to get results.

2. You’re posting the same content on every social network at the same time. You have your Instagram post also appear on Facebook, and the same Facebook post shows up on Twitter, etc. You think this is easier for you because you just hit one button and your post gets distributed across the various social networks. But, in reality, you’re just wasting time. That’s not how you build a community on these individual platforms. Remember that each social network has its own type of user, with his or her own reasons for being there. Younger people use Snapchat, while an older demographic uses Facebook. The “in-betweeners” use a little bit of Instagram and a little bit of Snapchat; they also have Facebook accounts, but they’re not heavy users.

The important thing to remember is that every platform is different, with unique features all its own. Instagram, for example, is all about really good photographs—perfect for showing off your pizzas and appetizers—and now, with the addition of the Stories feature (borrowed from Snapchat), you can also show behind-the-scenes glimpses of your restaurant. But you wouldn’t get as goofy as you would get on Snapchat, which is a place to let your hair down a little bit. Facebook, meanwhile, is great for advertising your restaurant and building your brand.

It’s a lot to learn, I know, so if you’re busy—and we all are—start with just one platform and learn how to use it properly. Once you get the hang of it and you’re getting good results, move on to the next platform. Don’t start out trying to learn all four at the same time because you will get overwhelmed, and it definitely won’t work for you. (Oh, and by the way, stop trying to sell something with every post. It’s called social media for a reason—it’s about engagement and building community. The best way to do that is through asking questions, responding to your fans’ questions, telling people who you are and how your business works. It’s not always about this or that special offer.)

3. You just don’t believe in social media. Maybe you’re old. Hey, that’s OK. We all get old. I’m getting old, too. Maybe you’re thinking, “Look, I’ve built my business already—I don’t need social media. My customers aren’t using it.” Let me tell you something: They are using it. Facebook alone has 1.89 billion monthly users as of January 2017. Your customers are definitely using social media. Just because you’re not a user doesn’t mean your customers aren’t using it.

You will have to take a leap of faith and give it your best effort. Believe in it, be patient and give it some time to work. Start with one platform, learn how it works, come up with a strategy and give it your all for the next six to nine months. Pay attention to what other accounts are doing that makes the needle move and learn from them. Start by posting three days a week—say, a Monday, a Thursday and a Sunday. Follow a schedule and post consistently. And don’t just post specials and “sell” messages—interact with your followers, learn about them and let them learn about you. At the end of that nine-month period, step back and look at your results. I can almost guarantee a positive outcome!

Bruce Irving is the marketing visionary behind SmartPizzaMarketing.com and host of the weekly Smart Pizza Marketing podcast. On his podcasts, he interviews the leading minds of the pizza restaurant industry. Irving, a top marketing consultant and former pizzeria owner, also hosts PizzaTV’s Marketing Insights livestream program, which streams at 8 p.m. (ET) every Tuesday on Facebook. You can listen to his Smart Pizza Marketing podcast at www.smartpizzamarketing.com. In addition, Irving speaks at conferences about how to better use social media in your restaurant or small business.

San Francisco’s Go-To Place for New Jersey-Style Pizza and Cuisine

A Taylor Pork Roll Pizza does exist!

New Jerseyans are filled with pride. Prideful of our Jersey roots. Prideful of not having to pump our own gas. Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Having the best damn bagels. And, of course, PIZZA.If you’re a Garden State transplant in the Bay Area, searching for pizza that reminds you of home can be quite challenging. So if you’ve been searching long and hard, look no further. Located in the heart of the bustling SOMA district of San Francisco lies a hidden Jersey gem. With a brick wall on one side of the bar, a graffiti-styled mural on the other side and a lengthy American flag draping in the front, the interior boasts an urban yet cozy vibe in Jersey.
Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal | Photo courtesy Jersey SF
The Trenton Tomato Pie

It’s a low-key Monday afternoon during happy hour. ESPN is playing on the televisions, and the cooks are preparing for the after-work rush. I glance through the menu and when I read “Trenton Tomato Pie,” I immediately feel at home. The bartender pours me a beer. “A lot of people from Jersey come here,” he says, with a grin on his face. “You know how I know? They tell me within the first five minutes of meeting me.” (See what I mean? Prideful.)Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal, brothers and owners of Jersey, are no strangers to the culinary world. With an extensive resume as cooks in various restaurants, the brothers permanently migrated to San Francisco in 1994 to work as executive chefs at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Postrio. This was the stepping stone in the Rosenthal brothers’ journey to creating their own restaurant empire.

In total, the brothers are partners in four restaurants and two coffee shops. While the menus at their first three restaurants—Anchor & Hope, Town Hall and Salt House—range from “East Coast meets West Coast fish house” to southern and new American, they wanted to open a place that represented their Jersey roots. With inspiration from their hometown pizzeria, Ferraro’s Pizza Parlor in Edison, N.J., their travels to Italy and experience as chefs on the West Coast, Jersey was born in 2015.


Bianca Pie

“Jersey is close to our hearts,” said Steven Rosenthal. “From the music to our food, everything about this place represents who we are as people.”The pizzas in the menu are separated by “Jersey style” and “California style.” The dough’s fermentation process is a bit longer than usual, and the crust on the pizza has a nice crunch to it. The Rosenthal brothers made sure to include menu items that would make any homesick New Jerseyan feel at peace. Key menu items include the meatballs, Trenton Tomato Pie and Taylor Pork Roll pie. So if anyone in the Bay Area is missing the classic Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, they can have it in pizza form at Jersey.

Jersey is located at 145 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105.
Must try: Trenton Tomato Pie, Bianca Pie, Taylor Pork Roll Pie


Lights, Camera…..Wait, Let’s Re-Cast The Lead!

“You were expecting someone else?” –
James Bond
You may have found yourself here at Pizza Perspective by way
of our editor-in-chief’s column in the March issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine.
Although he cited my colleague Andy Knef as the author of this blog, Mr. Knef
informed us mere days after the issue went to print that he’d gotten a great
offer in teaching that it would be almost criminal of him to pass up. And so
Andy left in pursuit of new opportunities.
But have no fear, the Pizza Perspective blog will continue
under the penmanship of Yours Truly.
me to re-introduce myself.” – Jay Z

It’s actually fortuitous timing that I take
over this blog during the March issue. The cover story is “Lights! Camera!
Pizza!” A feature on the importance of video content in marketing. For the
past six years, I’ve served PMQ and the pizza world as the Senior Media
Producer. That’s a vague title, because I wear many hats here. But the heavy
lifting in my responsibilities is video production.
If you’ve taken even a cursory look at the modern world,
you’ve probably noticed how often people check their phones (I’ve even watched
Cleveland Indians playoff games and pro-wrestling pay-per-views on mine.)
There’s a slew of social media apps, and every single one of them utilizes
video (some more than others.) From subways in Shanghai 

that project ghostly, holographic video ads onto the tunnel
walls, to the sensory overload of Times Square, to custom ad screens on gas
pumps all across Middle America – there is nowhere you can turn to avoid seeing
moving images. It’s kind of the reason I have a job.

“Video killed the radio star.” – The Buggles  

With video so prevalent, you can’t afford to be left behind when it comes to
promoting your products and brands with video. Fortunately, there are a LOT of
different ways to use video and no single “right way.” Even if all you’ve got
is an outdated iPhone, there’s a marketing avenue for you. Our March 2017 issue
will help you learn how to get in the game of video. 

But just because I’ve taken over Pizza Perspective in March
doesn’t mean it will become a blog about video. Pizza Perspective will continue
to cover a wide variety of topics, subjects, ideas and cultural

In my experiences with PMQ and Pizza TV, I’ve
trekked across this continent chasing the American Dream, delved into the
cradle of pizza in Napoli, and explored the next frontier of pizza in Asia. If
I’ve learned one thing in the process, it’s what noted poet Maya Angelou wrote
so eloquently: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
 I hope, with this blog, to share new perspectives with you, that you will
in turn share your unique perspectives with me, and together we’ll share our
perspectives with the readers. That’s a win-win-win.

The 5 Key Traits Shared by All Successful Pizzeria Operators

In my consulting business, I’ve talked to and interviewed hundreds of highly successful restaurateurs. As a former pizzeria operator myself, I’ve been especially struck by the similarities in the stories of entrepreneurs who’ve taken their pizzerias to the next level. That could mean multiple stores with hundreds of employees, or it could mean one store and a satisfying lifestyle. Happiness and success are subjective measures, but I have found five key characteristics, time after time, that are shared by thriving restaurant operators.

1. They have a passion for what they do. I didn’t say they have a passion for making money. Most will tell you they didn’t start out with a plan to make millions, but to practice a craft they love. Whether it’s making a great pizza or managing a restaurant that customers love to visit, these achievers are passionate about the daily grind of running a restaurant. You can see that passion in the amount of time they spend talking to other operators about their business. You’ll see them at industry trade shows, find them online interacting with colleagues on web forums, and you’ll hear them constantly interacting with customers and staff to get feedback and improve their processes.

The best pizzeria owners talk to their fellow operators on a daily basis even if there is great competition out there. They might be solo entrepreneurs, but they’re never introverts. Successful operators aren’t afraid to make a call or send emails asking the pros they respect for help or posing a question. When I find folks in the restaurant business who are reluctant to reach out for help or to solicit ideas on doing something different, they’ll typically say something like, ‘That idea will never work here because our customers are different.’ Andy my reply is: ‘How do you know unless you try?’

2. They have a CAN-DO mentality. They don’t attack a challenge with a “that’s impossible” mindset. To them, everything is “figure-outable,” which should be a word if it’s not one. These dynamic leaders know their business is a marathon, not a sprint. They’re not the people who complain when I tell them it will take six months to turn their revenue around through social media marketing. “Why so long?” such folks ask, because they haven’t committed to the long haul. Nothing happens overnight. At the same time, operators who seem to have enjoyed rapid success achieve that level only through putting in the 17-, 18- and 19-hour days building systems that work and taking responsibility for their mistakes. And yes, you’re not improving if you’re not making mistakes.

Successful restaurateurs don’t embrace the “poor me” mindset of blaming setbacks on employees or bashing competitors or degrading anyone else’s work. They concentrate on creating the best possible product they can and they don’t sweat the small stuff. When an employee doesn’t show up for work, it doesn’t derail their day. When a product is missing or an employee calls in sick, it isn’t the end of the world. These dynamic role models know where the ultimate responsibility lies. They take total control of the decisions in their life.

3. They embrace technology. Whether it’s new kitchen and oven tools, online ordering, point-of-service integration or social media marketing, successful operators simply can’t afford to say, “We do things this way because that’s the way we’ve always done them.” Just because you built a temporary business surge in 2015 with a direct mail campaign doesn’t mean that same approach will work in 2017. It’s imperative that you keep your eyes on the technology trends that are dramatically changing the modern marketplace. Read resources like PMQ Pizza Magazine, go to online forums like PMQ’s Think Tank, listen to the latest podcasts about technologies that are proving effective around the world. Don’t be afraid to make a change; after all, you can always change back if you need to.

The operators who are setting the trends in today’s restaurant and pizzeria business use social media to test out changes before they’re even fully implemented. Through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can go directly to your customer base, where they live, and transparently get their input on menu changes, specials and promotions, and operational changes. Here’s the reality: My 9-year-old daughter found a phone book on my porch the other day and asked me what it was. When I replied, “It’s for looking up phone numbers,” she responded, “Isn’t that what Google is for?” We live in a digital age, and that’s where our customers reside. If you’re not using Facebook advertising—and by that I mean paying to boost your Facebook posts—in 2017, you’re missing a huge opportunity to advertise your business and stay competitive in today’s online environment.

4. They practice teambuilding. The most common question I receive is, “How do I find good employees?” It’s another mindset issue. I always respond, “Do you have any good employees now?” Everyone always cites a couple of great ones—and I add, “Do the same thing.” Typically, it’s a matter of always being on the lookout. When you’re out and about, keep your eyes open for service professionals who impress you. Even if you don’t need help at that moment, don’t be afraid to give that impressive performer your card and invite them to be part of your team.

When you do hire, hire for attitude and train for skills. Don’t fall into the trap of depending on that tired application that lists skills and hiring people solely because they can do the things you already know how to do. Bottom line: You can always train someone to cook a pizza, pour a drink or wait on customers. You can’t train great attitude, work ethic and personal responsibility. Smart operators grow by building great teams, and knowing what they don’t know. Maybe your passion is making delicious pizza, maybe it’s running the dining room. Successful bosses do what they do best and look for great people with the skills to fill out the team. Don’t enjoy bookkeeping? Find a trustworthy person or accounting firm. Not an instinctive chef? Hire a master cook to put your menu over the top. Intimidated by modern social media marketing? Hire a plugged in individual or team to reach your digitally dependent customer base. And when it’s appropriate to fire an employee who is not living up to expectations, do it quickly. Successful operators don’t delay that decision because they’ll be temporarily shorthanded. They understand that no short-term fix is worth allowing bad employees to represent their business to customers.

5. They express gratitude. Noted marketing author Gary Vaynerchuck explains that the statistical likelihood of human existence on this planet is a one-in-a-trillion phenomenon. We could have been born a bug or a tree. Entrepreneurs who excel appreciate that point instinctively and take every available chance to say thanks. They appreciate every day—the good and the bad. Every day is another chance to say thank you to an employee for a job well done. Or to thank a loyal customer or someone experiencing your pizzeria for the first time. Remember, customers are distracted and have more options today than ever before. Successful operators know they must constantly work to improve, appreciate the accomplishments AND mistakes each new day brings, learn from them, and treat their employees like a family. That’s the key to making customers and staff happy and nurturing a growing, prosperous restaurant or pizzeria.

3 Strategies to Double Your Instagram Following Over the Next Six Months

Bruce Irving
In the last few
months, Instagram has made tremendous changes that can help you use this red-hot
social media tool to grow your pizzeria. By copying some fun features from the
popular Snapchat app, Facebook-owned Instagram is now a great place to build your
brand and get your business some future exposure.
That’s why I want to share three strategies that will take your Instagram
account to the next level. They’re easy to execute, although potentially
time-consuming. But the way I look at it, you have two equally valuable
personal assets to invest—time or money. If you’d rather invest the money to
pay someone to carry out these steps, go for it! If you’d rather invest a
little time to learn for yourself and you implement these three Instagram
strategies, I can say confidently that your Instagram account will explode!
1. Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories, like Snapchat, gives you the option of posting temporary videos or photos that,
collectively, tell a story. This new feature is available as an app for your
iPhone or Android, and it allows you to get really creative with overlays,
emojis or stickers with your visual images. The feature works on a 24-hour
cycle, so whatever content you create on your phone in that period will appear
sequentially on Instagram Stories.Here’s a tip: When you post, add your little picture icon, and the content will
be thrown to the top of the Instagram Stories feed. The best way to make
Instagram Stories work for you is to add a video or photo every 2-3 hours. That
sounds like a lot of posting, but if you make your first post at 11 a.m. when you
open the shop, and add two or three by late afternoon, you’ll always be at the
top of the Instagram Stories feed. The great thing about this new Instagram
product is your photos and videos don’t have to be on the ultra-high technical
quality level as before. Quality still applies, but this app allows you to be
creative and even goofy with your content to tell an engaging story. Stuff that
you wouldn’t have added to your Instagram page is now fair game. Mix it up!
Above all, be creative and monitor who is viewing your content and engage with

2. Make sure you use
hashtags on every Instagram Stories post. 

You can use up to 30 hashtags per
post. If you’re interested in an insider’s tip on how to blow past that hashtag
number to 40-50, check out the latest episode of Pizza Marketing Insights.
Personally, I don’t recommend overloading with that many hashtags because your
Instagram Story gallery will begin to look “spammy.”So why hashtags on every post? We live in a social media world, and the people
you want to reach are searching those hashtags and live in that environment. My
advice to you is to hop on the hashtag bandwagon. Attach at least 10-20
hashtags to your Instagram Stories posts. Which ones? Research the hashtags
that are trending—the most popular ones in your area. Use the ones that are
relevant to your market and that will help you the most to build exposure.

3. Build
relationships with social media influencers.

Monitoring popular hashtags is
great, but you also need to build relationships with those same local social
media influencers. The whole point of social media marketing is to get
attention in whatever platform you’re using. What local influencers have in
abundance is people’s attention. Think about offering a local influencer—for
our purposes that means anyone with a ton of social media followers—20 bucks to
mention your pizzeria on one of her social media pages. Or work free pizza into
a trade for social media promotion. Nobody turns down free pizza! This approach
works especially well with a food blogger who needs a chance to sample food to
do his job. Since research shows that photos and videos move consumers the
most, ask that influencer to post a picture or video of your shop on her
Instagram page.


If you’re going to pay or trade for exposure on an influencer’s
pages, make sure they follow the criteria—tagging you, adding you into the post
description or referencing you in the post text—so that it appears that the
local influencer is promoting your business. The goal is for all of your
followers to see the post, but the positive impression is coming from an
independent source.Collaborating with local influencers can be a great, cheap way to reach and
engage your local audience. But you have to do the legwork. Take the time and
do the research to build a relationship with that local influencer before you make
the “ask” for social media exposure. Find them, interact, follow their social
media pages and make comments. After you’ve done that a few weeks, spring the
offer. As marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck describes the process: Jab, jab,
jab—right  hook. I guarantee if you
execute these three strategies over the next 3-6 months, you will double your
Instagram followers.

Six Ways to Celebrate National Pizza Day

Happy National Pizza Day! Here are some fun ways to celebrate the best day of the year!

National Pizza Day falls on February 9. Yes, you can celebrate by simply having a slice of pizza, but here are six suggestions to make the most of this special day:

1) Have a Pizza Party

Since National Pizza Day falls on a Thursday, chances are you may be stuck at the office. Whether that’s the case or not, get all of your friends or coworkers together and order a variety of pies for everyone to try. 

2) Go On a Pizza Crawl

Ever heard of a pizza crawl? It’s exactly what you’re thinking: a bar crawl but for pizzas. Sign up for an organized tour in your nearest city or simply plan a route of pizzerias in the area. Grab a friend, and see who can eat the most pizza!

3) Wear Pizza Clothing

Can’t get your hands on pizza on this special day? No problem. You can still celebrate by dressing the part. There are pizza onesies, shirts, socks, hats, and virtually any piece of clothing that is pizza-themed. Check out these on Etsy.

4) Make a Homemade Pizza

Sometimes nothing is more comforting than a homemade meal. To make a pizza, you can purchase the dough pre-made or make it from scratch. Gather your favorite ingredients and toppings, throw it all together and put it in the oven. Here’s a recipe on how to make a simple yet delicious pizza at home.

5) Surprise a Friend with a Pie

Random acts of kindness? More like random acts of pizza. People love surprises no matter what shape or form it comes in. Whether you order a pizza to your significant other’s office or to your grandmother’s nursing home, it is guaranteed to put a smile on their face.

6) Come Up with a Pizza Bucket List

Have you been dying to check out the new pizzeria that opened in town? Or try out a gluten-free or vegan pizza? Whether it’s wanting to consume different styles of pizza or traveling all over the world for the best slice, grab a piece of paper and start writing down your pizza to-do list.

Italian Triumphs at Swedish Pizza Master Cup

10 competitors from around Sweden participated in the official selections for the Pizza World Championships in Italy February 2nd in conjunction with the Fastfood & Café show in Stockholm.

I was invited for the honor of participating as a judge with 5 other great pizza professionals to determine who would win a trip to Parma to compete at the international level.  Panel members included previous Swedish pizza championship winners, chefs and entrepreneurs.

Swedish Pizza Masters Cup

The pizzas were amazing and in typical Swedish style, loaded with exotic toppings rarely seen on a pizza anywhere else.  Here are some of the ones that stood out.

In just 2 hours the competition was over and while the scores were being tallied, I showed off some pizza spinning skills (on a jumbotron!)

Missy Green, Missy Assink, Pizza Spinning, Sweden

First place went to Italian pizza maker Simone Pizzuto from pizzeria La Madrina in Stockhom.  His pizza had a 72 hour proofing time and featured burrata, thinly sliced dried fig, asparagus which was boiled, iced and then baked, and a unique product from Calabria which falls between the category of salami and sambal called ‘nduja.

When Simone’s name was heard over the PA, the pizzaiolo jumped up ecstatically hugging other competitors and competition organizers alike. After some moments the passionate pizza maker insisted on taking to the mic and sadly revealed that he would be not be able to represent Sweden this year at the World Pizza Championships due to family issues. Simone gracefully abdicated his free trip to Italy to the second place winner Zana Aziz, chef at Massimo in Norrköping, Sweden

Simone Pizzuto humbly declines his trip to Italy
Zana Aziz Mohammad will travel to Italy in the Spring to compete at the World Pizza Championships on behalf of Sweden

Aziz said he was very happy to be going to Italy though saddened to hear Pizzuto’s family was going through hard times.  Aziz’s 2nd place pie consisted of thin slices of avocado, mango, prosciutto and microgreens, served with two specialty oils, lemon and herbed.  Aziz says he was a chef before he became a pizzaiolo which has guided him on his quest to innovative taste combinations and a homemade line of finishing oils for their pizza.

“Customers go crazy for our finishing oils which are made with a premium Italian olive oil and other fresh ingredients like garlic, lemon juice, chili or fresh herbs.  My next project is an avocado oil and a parmesan oil that we hope to start selling in the store along with our other oils.”

As an official selections competition for the Pizza World Championship, judges had to comply to the same rules that apply in Italy such as “no posting pictures of pizzas on social media before the competition is over” and “no discussion with other judges on scores.”  Competitors were judged simply on taste and bake.

From Wall Street to Main Street — How This Pizzeria Owner is Fulfilling His Dream in New Jersey

Brooklyn’s Anthony Saporito knew opening a pizzeria was no easy task. So he left his Wall Street job and immersed himself in the field to gain hands-on experience to fulfill his dream.

Wall of Fam – interior of Urban Fire
Anthony Saporito (left) and Chip Ohlsson

While working a 9-to-5 at the New York Stock Exchange paid the bills, Anthony Saporito was looking to break out of the office job routine and be fulfilled. He wanted more. Through a mutual friend, he met Chip Ohlsson, an owner of Five Guys restaurants. As they begin to chat, they realized they both owned wood-fired ovens in their backyard and shared a mutual love for Neapolitan style pizza. It was at that moment he knew he needed to fulfill his lifelong dream of opening his own authentic pizzeria, Urban Fire.

“Going to college for finance was something I did to find a job,” said Saporito. “But it was never something that was going to drive me to the success I envisioned. Urban Fire does that for me.”
Saporito knew it was going to take time. He quit his Wall Street job and began knocking door-to-door to various pizzerias, searching for that one opportunity that would lead him to gain hands-on experience in the business. While many pizzerias shut him down and declined to give him a chance, Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, welcomed him with open arms. Saporito did everything from prepping the dough to chopping and grating the ingredients and cooking in the wood-fired oven.

Some of Urban Fire’s pizzas and rice balls

After two years of working there, Saporito felt it was time to spread his wings and take the next step. Now partners, he and Ohlsson gathered to brainstorm menu items that were true to their Italian heritage but had a modern twist. With months of preparation, Urban Fire was born in 2014 with a “build your own” concept, allowing customers to create their own pizza masterpieces. Creating a pizza at Urban Fire is easy. Customers simply select a base — margherita, tomato pie, bianco or verde — and choose from over 30 of the freshest toppings.

“We give them that option to explore and be creative,” said Saporito. “We have signature pies if they want us to help but the choice is always theirs.”

Margherita in the oven

Although the concept of Urban Fire is fast-casual, the interior is cozy and homey. Precisely decorated on the indoor brick wall, a “Wall of Fam” showcases photos dating back to older generations from the Saporito and Ohlsson family. It’s a part of the restaurant that tells a story through food and family. It felt so much like home that the local middle school Italian teacher — who was born in Italy — held class in the restaurant because of the nostalgia it brought her.

“It’s a part of the restaurant we are very proud of,” said Saporito. “I think it’s true for many people that most of our fond memories have to do with getting together with family and the food we enjoy. We encourage our guests to bring in some of their family photos and we will gladly find a frame for it and add it to the wall. It’s a great way to really get to know your community.”


Visit Urban Fire at 6 Main Street, Madison, N.J.
Must Haves: The Rocket Specialty Pizza, Pallini Rice Balls, Porchetta Panino