Robin's Artisan Pizza Co. - the story so far

It was about time that I hop back into food production for real, so back in April and with inspiration from the Pizza Hacker I decided that I was going to take the plunge and get my own project up and running. Having worked at street level with Chocstar and Luardos as a good honest trader I knew I had in me to go it alone. Serving quality food direct to people who care has always given me a real buzz and I had never seen really good pizzas being hawked in markets or at festivals before, being a fan this was my plan.

The first step was to work out how to cook 'em. The Pizza Hackers wood fired BBQ adaptation is a great idea but to churn out volume would mean getting through so much wood over a three day stint at a festival and to maintain the temperatures necessary would have been tricky. Through eBay I found Pedro (pictured above testing the oven most dangerously by sticking wires directly into the mains) who sold me my oven for £200 (RRP £1200) a veritable bargain.

With cooking facilities dealt with I needed a dough recipe I knew I could up scale to deal with the volume I needed to cover costs. Much testing, recording and constantly cocking it up came next but after about a month of tests and talking with bakers and aficionados I finally worked it out.

Mamma Roma on Holloway road became my wholesaler, they deal in imported Italian produce and a real experience to visit, left relatively unchanged since their establishment in in mid 1970's, it's a proper family enterprise.

I met Bridget from Franco Manca and Wild Caper from whom I got the flour that they use for their wonderful sourdough pizzas, if its good enough for them its good enough for me.

Now I needed an outlet, somewhere to sling my product. Fortunately some mates of my brothers were organising a festival on Anglesey. Gottwood festival came at exactly the right time and as a small 1000 capacity festival in their first year it was the ideal platform to launch from. A few phone calls later and a sticky moment when I was asked what name we traded under, to which I answered stutteringly and fully unprepared, Robin's Artisan Pizza Co. was born.

Gottwood was in a glorious spot just round the coast from Holyhead and we were getting close to trading time and I was getting nervous. The environmental health officer for Anglesey had been on the phone and on my back, risk assessment charts had be be written up, electrical safety tests for Roberta the oven had to be obtained, temperature probes had to be got amongst all the other bits and pieces that were begged, borrowed, blagged or bought. This was real and what had previously been just a pipe dream was causing me serious angst. So much could go wrong and all the time and money that I had invested would all be blown in one decision from the Health and Safety guys or a power failure that would renter Roberta defunct. With huge support from my wonder team Ali and Ed and all the well wishers along the way we muscled through and setup camp.

The set up

Roberta and Ali fully safety tested and ready for action

open for business

"The Wonder Team"
Ed (left) chief topper peel slinger and Ali (right) the brains to remember the list of customer orders and head cashier

Day one, Thursday, as the ravers arrived we had prepped the dough and were ready for business

We kept the menu simple, four options:
  • Simple Margarita - £5
  • Robins Margarita - fresh mozzarella and basil - £6
  • Pepperoni - £6
  • Napoli - fresh white anchovy fillets, capers and olives - £6

Ed, topping in action

Ali, peel slinging in action

Robin's Margarita

By early afternoon on the third and final day of trading is was clear that we were getting low on supplies and by 5pm we had totally sold out. Dough gone, cheese gone, sauce gone! This was good and bad in equal measures. We had been full throttle for the last five hours, and after an eighteen hour day previously we all needed break, on the other hand the demand was still there and jaded revelers were missing out on Pizza, not to mention the extra sales that would have been a bonus.

We learned so much from the first event, and still have a long way to go. I took two weeks off work to concentrate on RAPC and it was close to as much work as in Michelin kitchens but infinitely more satisfying. Taking a project from conception to completion was tough and stressful but I'm so proud of what we achieved and its not stopping here, more events have been booked for later in the summer and we are looking for more so please get in touch if you can help out. I can't thank everybody enough who has been generous, helpful and supportive thus far; especially Ed and Ali who really made Robin's work! Big shout out to Petra too who sorted me out with so much of her festival kit.

Be ready to catch a Robin's Pizza somewhere near you soon!

Peace, love and Pizza...

Quality images by Alex Welensky


William Leigh said...

Congrats mate, looking forward to trying one!

Kavey said...

So happy to read how well it went for you. Hope to be able to try a Robin's Artisan Pizza for myself soon!

Helen said...

Bloody well done Charlie. How exciting! Best of luck with the adventure.

Ollie said...

Brilliant stuff, Charlie. Really well done. Can't wait to eat one!

Rebecca said...

Really enjoyed your post. Are you prepared to share your dough recipe? I'm on a constant search for the perfect pizza dough. Thanks

Jessica said...

Love the name! Congratulations on your achievement. You should be very proud. Hope to see one of your pizzas near me soon!

susanna said...

Well done Charlie - looks brilliant and tasty too. Any more outings in the near future?

Anonymous said...

Gottwood was the best time of my life, and the Pizza made it better.

Andrew said...

i want one... NOWWW :((( mmmmm

tehbus said...

Missed this whilst I was away but a brilliant account of a great endeavour. Hope it all goes well mate.

Fran Law said...

Utterly yummy pizzas, cooked to perfection and a fantastic brand too ... many congrats to you all and we very much enjoyed chatting to Jack last night at the Underhill Festival. I'm going to post a link to you guys on Facebook ... highly recommended, reckon you'll go far with this ace concept :)