Monday, July 30, 2012

A more than fair Pear Fair

   Intense is the only word I could think of to describe our debut as pizza makers. The quaint little town on the Sacramento river named Courtland could almost be the backdrop for Andy, Barney, Floyd's barber shop and Goober's filling station. Courtland will be a new word in my vocabulary as well as Pear Fair for years to come. We thought that to make our debut in a small rustic little town we could make a soft entrance into the world of food vending and if we screwed up that nobody would really notice. We would comfortably handle the small trickle of folks by talking to them from our little 10' x 10' booth and convince them to try a wood fired pizza from our recently purchased pizza trailer/oven. We figured it was Courtland. Nobody intentionally goes to Courtland. They just whiz on past it without ever giving it a thought. There was no signal, no intersection, not even a Goober look alike filling station. A great place to get our toes wet. Yes, I have been wrong before but never so much as thinking Courtland would be an easy training ground for our fledgling pizza business debut.
   We arrived early, set up quickly, then had to move the pizza trailer about 3 times to make everyone around us happy then we had to move our booth back 5 feet to accomodate the trailer position which killed about 30 minutes of our precious time to get ready. It was just Greg and myself at 6:30 in the morning with 2 and a half hours until opening and it seemed doable. Then our wives and niece showed up on time and before we knew it they were telling us the fair opens in 7 minutes. Wow, where did the time go? Not a problem, I thought. Nobody but me eats pizza at 9 o'clock in the morning. We'd have plenty of time to go use the bathroom, have a snack, check out the other vendors, browse the classics at the car show and still make adjustments to the booth, throw another log on the fire and twiddle our thumbs for another hour until some hungry fair goers decided they were hungry enough to buy a pizza.
Sliced pear, mozzarella, gorgonzola, proscuitto & walnuts
   At about 9:02 we took our first order. A pear pizza with proscuitto, mozzarella, gorgonzola and walnuts was the first call. Huh, somebody really wants a pear pizza? They aren't my favorite pizza but we were asked to accomodate the crowd by putting a pear pizza on the menu. Of course we will just to make them happy. Was I wrong again. After the end of the day about 70% of our pizzas sold were pear and proscuitto. I'm thinking now, "I need to rethink my thinking!" From that first pizza order until about 3:30 in the afternoon we sold pizzas like they were the last pizzas on earth. Not one of us ever got a break, a lunch or a moment to rest. We took orders, assembled, baked, cut and turned out pizzas in a storm of hungry pizza eaters. There was never a pause for small talk, chit chat or even a glance over our shoulders. We worked furiously in the heat and the heat of the oven for 6 and a half hours until we were able to look up and see what a mess we had made. Nobody kept a count of how many, there wasn't time. I believe our break lasted 12 minutes before the early dinner crowd started lining up.
3 hardworking girls.

That stool didn't get use until about 3:30!
   I thought to myself about that Kenny Rogers song called The Gambler where he sings, "You never count your money when your sittin' at the table, there'll be time enough for counting, when the dealin's done." I turned to Greg and told him the last thing I remember was the health inspector was here and going down the checklist. That was over 5 hours ago!
   The fair closed at 6:00. I couldn't have been happier to see those pear people go home. Criminy, doesn't anybody cook for themselves anymore? Go home, watch the Olympics, get a life, just don't ask me for a pizza anymore today!
    When we finally got to breathe a sigh of relief, the smiles started coming across our faces. We did well, I think. We patted each other on the back with words of "great job everybody." Then the mess appeared in our eyes. It might have rivaled hurricane Katrina. So, we have a few bugs to work out. Let's not go over it now. We'll fix it next time.
   After an hour of clean up and packing the trucks we hurried home to change out of our battle fatigues and go for a swim. Sheri was counting the cash. "Huh," we broke my goal. While sifting through the destruction of the day, Greg finds a back pack that had another $472.00 in it. OMG, we broke the our goal in grand style. Apparently that was an earlier stash of cash that we had emptied because the cash box was getting full. It was that kind of day, a few surprises like cut fingers and a friend there to help bandage the cut. A whip cream canister used on the dessert pear pizzas went wild in the condiments and shot all over the gorgonzola while the health inspector was there.  Even my brother from Oregon dropped by on the way home! I had a couple of burned pizzas that had to be re-fired but with some great teamwork we made it through.
   Yes, it was intense. Intense heat, intense crowds, intense work but mostly intense comraderie as we pulled together to make our debut a success.
   Oh, by the way, I'm still cleaning equipment, utensils, clothes, table cloths etc. making a cash deposit (finally, after all the out-going expenses) and now getting ready for next Saturday's Soul Food Festival in Stockton. Putting together a food order, more cleaning, resting and looking to work out some of the bugs. No pear pizzas next week but  this time but I'm thinking maybe a Cajun sausage with red, yellow and green peppers. More to my style!


  1. Wow! Sounds like you had a pear of a day.
    This is a great article. I loved the step by step tale of your pizza journey. A great testament to you, your brother and the pizza support staff.

    Most importantly of all you did not rediscover pizza, you discovered the power of the pie!

    Totally awesome, and honestly, I could not be happier for you (and prouder) of your truly amazing pizza journey! A small step for a pizza booth, a giant leap into the World of Pizza.

    All the best in your future pizza adventures. But then again, I am not surprised one bit...I always knew you would be a sparkling success. The fact that you far exceeded your expectations makes this very sweet indeed!

    Onward, and upward....Stay on the Sunny side!
    pizza on earth,
    Pizza Therapy

  2. That is absolutely fabulous! Congratulations to you and Greg! Keep it up and "make hay while the sun is shining"!!!