Pizza Expo Podcast Episode 11 - Christian Buck

October 04, 2021

Pizza Expo Podcast Episode 11 - Christian Buck

[00:00:00.510] - Rev and Eric

Welcome back to another exciting episode of Who's at Pizza Expo. Is that what we're calling this now?


[00:00:06.510] - Rev and Eric

We haven't decided how to name this but, yet but "Who's at Pizza Expo"?


[00:00:08.650] - Rev and Eric

"Who's at Pizza Expo"?


[00:00:09.310] - Christian

It's a good name.


[00:00:09.730] - Rev and Eric

So we've got Christian here with Cascadia Pizza. He's in Washington. How's the show been so far?


[00:00:14.400] - Christian

Uh, it's been good. Yeah, it's obviously a little smaller this year with everything going on, about half as big, but it's always fun to get out here. We brought a couple of our general managers down with us this year for the first time. So it's been cool for them to see the pizza industry, right. Because we're kind of stuck in our own bubble forever, right? So it's been good. I competed yesterday in the traditional.


[00:00:35.140] - Rev and Eric

How'd you do?


[00:00:35.140] - Christian

I did OK. I wanted to do better. I did it, finished about 15 from last. So, it's okay. You know what, there's always room to improve. But I guess the one thing that's interesting is they don't really tell you, they don't give you feedback on the competition. So that's one thing, you know, I wish they would. Obviously, there's so many competitors. But it's just fun to come out here and make pizza, man, eat good pizza.


[00:00:53.460] - Rev and Eric

What did you enter? What was your...


[00:00:55.560] - Christian

Just traditional. So I did just like a pepperoni, portabella mushroom, red sauce, cheese. Real simple. It's my little blend there. I was honestly really proud of the pizza. It was actually really happy, it was really, really good, so it's alright.


[00:01:05.920] - Rev and Eric

Was this the first time you competed?


[00:01:07.030] - Christian

This is my 2nd time.


[00:01:07.670] - Rev and Eric

2nd time. So what did you do different from the first time to the second time? To prep or whatever?


[00:01:12.270] - Christian

So the first time I did our, I was in the non-traditional. So there's no rules. And I wanted to be a little more, okay, like let's have lesser toppings. It's all about the flavor. It's all about simple toppings. So, in terms of the difference, I didn't do things too many different other than just a different pie. Actually, my dough traveled better this time than last time. Last time I put a little bit too much olive oil, I didn't put them in individual containers, I didn't want make dough down here.  So this year I put a little less olive oil. The dough was great. Pizza was very good. So, it's alright, I mean you're competing with some of the best pizzaiolos in the world, so.


[00:01:43.840] - Rev and Eric

In my mind when I talk to operators that compete at these things in my mind them at, in their shop, getting ready to come is like a scene from like a James Bond movie, like before he goes into battle. Like, okay, so here's this new knife that does this thing and their like packing their things. Like that is the picture in my head.


[00:01:59.940] - Christian

No it was just, it took us like hours to get everything. We had to pack for my GM, too. So, we had a crew in there helping us out, getting stuff prepped. Putting our cooler, ice. And then the baggage handlers I think we're just throwing my cooler because I got it and it had so much stuff just like my dough, my containers were broken, but it ended up working OK, so.


[00:02:19.980] - Rev and Eric

So you said you brought a couple of GMs that hadn't been here before, are they just like, kind of mind blown?


[00:02:25.060] - Christian

Yeah, they're....


[00:02:25.300] - Rev and Eric

Even though this is a little smaller than normal but still


[00:02:26.500] - Christian

Oh yeah, no, they're just like, wow, like I didn't realize you know it's this like, one, this big in terms of like the independent pizzerias. And, two, it's just like everything from Fontina Sausage to Hormel, all these companies are here. They actually get to see like what we use and the people behind the products that we use. It's a different protective, it's kind of cool.


[00:02:45.615] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. Go ahead.


[00:02:48.130] - Rev and Eric

I was just going to say, we're in, on a totally different subject. We're in the Marqii booth. We're here sponsored by Marqii. Do you do anything as far as like this where your online information is automated and your hours, do you keep track of that kind of stuff? or who does that for you?


[00:03:04.330] - Christian

So, really, I mean Google, we have our hours on Google but I mean, not necessarily. It's interesting.


[00:03:09.180] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. I was thinking last night when we got back from the first day and to me, the two things that jump out from this Expo from two years ago, three years ago, is all the plant based stuff and all the ITish kind of stuff that's here now versus it used to seem like it was so much just equipment upon equipment upon equipment and the world is changing a little bit. We've seen that here, you know.


[00:03:30.580] - Rev and Eric

No, you know the meatless category is huge. We're having our reps with our companies come out to us and give us you know, vegan pepperoni and vegan bacon or chorizo, and it's exploding for sure. I mean it's alternatives. And one for one, we're having issues with supply chain, in general, so it's like it's kind of brilliant for these companies to be like, let's hit it hard now, like we have the infrastructure to do it. So that's something definitely on the rise. The technology companies is, I think it's great, I think there's a lot of, no offense, there's a lot of older operators in this industry. Um, so definitely involving online ordering, third party delivery. I honestly think it's good for the pizza industry.


[00:04:16.150] - Rev and Eric

One of my partners...likes to joke that the only industry that adopts technology slower is coal mining.


[00:04:20.980] - Christian

Haha, yeah. There you go.


[00:04:22.500] - Rev and Eric

I was like, oh, well, pizza there you go.


[00:04:26.041] - Christian

No, it makes sense. That's awesome.


[00:04:27.380] - Rev and Eric

Now you, coming back to the plant based stuff. It's interesting. Like, I live in Oklahoma, right? And I don't see anybody in my market doing a plant based pepperoni. I just like, do you see it yet?


[00:04:40.450] - Christian

Well, we're in Seattle, so a little different. And yeah, you're definitely starting to see it come on a little more. We don't have any of that yet. I could see us potentially having some. It's really what our customer base is going to tell us. You know, we're not just going to hold a product, if it's not going to sell because we eat that into our costs, so it's like...


[00:04:56.980] - Rev and Eric

Well, he was, what was the stat you threw out yesterday about an LTO. It increases sales like 20%?


[00:05:01.710] - Rev and Eric

The typical LTO is worth up to 20% in additional revenue to a restaurant.


[00:05:06.760] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. I wonder if it's one of those things where you do a plant based pepperoni pizza as an LTO and see what happens. Maybe that's how you judge it. Because I don't know how to introduce that in the menu.


[00:05:17.220] - Christian

It's, you know, we have two locations now and a couple food trucks, so I think maybe if we expanded our pizzeria, our brick and mortar business, I could see getting more customers and more people be like, "okay, I have these needs", you know. And I could see, you know,  meeting them potentially if it makes sense. It's all about making sense, right? At the end of the day, we're running a business and if that product sells, that's what we're going to do.


[00:05:36.190] - Rev and Eric

Are you doing cauliflower crust or?


[00:05:39.670] - Christian

We actually are, yeah. Our cauliflower crust is actually our gluten-free, as well. And it is, we use, ah man why am I, Caulipower. It is, honestly, if I was gluten-free. Amazing. We cook it in a wood fired oven and gets nice and charred, it's honestly awesome. A lot of people love the cauliflower crust.


[00:05:55.830] - Rev and Eric

Well, look, we don't want to keep you too long. By the way, thank you for being a Perfect Crust customer. We love that. Thank you very much. Good luck, I hope you have a great rest of the show.


[00:06:04.460] - Christian

Thank you man, I appreciate that.


[00:06:05.660] - Rev and Eric

Take care, it was a pleasure.