About two months ago I got a call about a guy with a woodfire oven on wheels (not your average trailer hitch) who was opening up his own stand at the Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market. After a few email exchanges and phone calls, I got the impression that he was just getting his feet wet, playing in the kitchen at the market, while using the same ingredients and beyond that would be available at the market any given day he was making pizza. His ambitions sounded modest and true but the reality is awesome! He serves up pizzas and calzones with the finest and freshest ingredients, from Lyon artichokes for an artichoke puree that serves as a green sauce for a sage and artichoke pizza to summer peaches and micro basil that get married with an oak aged California balsamic glaze as a finishing touch for a pizza that Andrew Scull says he’ll be making as long as summer keeps the peaches growing. Each pizza that Andrew handcrafts gets a farmers market touch, a reflection of the genuine character of what the farmers market embodies.
On a drizzly Saturday a couple of weeks back, I went to visit Andrew and his possee to check out his latest creations. I found out more than the fact (Fact!) that his pizzas are beyond delicious. Summer squash and toasted sesames never tasted so good! I found out that Andrew has a day job that I would have never guessed. I also found my hunch to be true: this cool-looking cat really was a cool cat and he wears his love for food on his sleeve, his passion transfers into the pizza via the ingredients and the rest is simply, magic. Here is my interview with Andrew along with a little still film capturing a day in the life of Principi’s Pizza at the Little Italy Mercato.
Click on the link to view on YouTube:
And the interview…
Melissa: What is your day job?
Andrew: My day job is as a Natural Gas Storage Trader. Very basically, I buy natural gas in the summertime. When it is cheaper, I store it in large salt dome caverns until the winter (when it is more expensive). Then I sell it.
M: Why did you decide to open up a farmers market wood-burning oven stand?
A: I decided to open up a woodfired pizza stand at the market because it was my way to “get back into the kitchen.” I spent quite a bit of my free time over 4 years working for Michael Stebner at two of his restaurants here, Cafe 910 and Region. It basically amounted to a very long and drawn out “stage” and I learned an incredible amount from him. I have always wanted to get back into the culinary world, but one thing has led to another after college. Then I found myself really missing it. This was my way of getting back into the “kitchen” without quitting my day job.
M: Why did you decide to buy Farmers Market produce to feature as your ingredients?
A: Because really, what other kind of ingredients are there!?!?! No, in all seriousness, the importance of quality ingredients has been instilled in me since a very young age. My father grew (and still grows) 90% of the fruit and vegetables that my family ate. Combined with Michael Stebner’s passionate philosophy for utilizing all things local, organic, and seasonal, it only makes sense that my own menus would be very biased toward Farmer’s Market produce. From a taste standpoint, given the delicate nature of woodfired pizzas taste, you really have to have ingredients that shine…your pizza is only as good as what you put on it, and local, organic ingredients are obviously the way to go.
M: What inspires you about the farmers market?
A: The Farmer’s Market inspires me because of all the hard work and care that goes into bringing that food from the farm to your table. It is painfully obvious to me how much people at the market care about their produce and I, in turn, want to care that much about the product that I put forward. I know how difficult it can be to grow great produce using the methods that they do (I have tried in my own backyard, and I can say I have had many failings to my few successes…hopefully that changes ASAP) and I definitely want to celebrate the benefits to flavor what their hard work produces!
M: What is your favorite Farmers Market fruit or vegetable of the season?
A: I would have to say any kind of stone fruit. I just can’t get enough of it, and our peach or nectarine caprese pizza is one of my favorite summer foods right now!
Just like the farmers, Andrew is a hard-working dedicated guy true to his craft and you can taste it in every bite. Don’t take my word for it, though. Visit Andrew and Principi’s Pizza at the Little Italy Mercato every Saturday from 9am-1:30pm.