Southern Vermont has an amazing food culture for lack of a better descriptor. Everyone gardens, farms, raises animals, brews cider, kambucha, pickles, cures, and generally eat like kings.
When I moved here a few years ago, I got involved with making sourdough breads. What could possibly be better than fresh sourdough bread, piping hot from the oven, butter melting and steaming on the crusty crust right before "chomp" and "ahhhh"?
One day last summer, we had a cold night and the dough didn't rise.
Not wanting to waste, we decided to fire up the grill and try grilling pizza, something I experienced first in Argentina. It took us a few crusts to get it right, but we thought it was a good thing and invited some friends over the next week to try it out with us.
Four consecutive pizza Fridays later, we knew we had something special. We decided to throw a sign up three miles down our hill on the main road and see if we might break even for once.
We ended up selling out every night that weekend, and Pizza Hippo was born.
For the next few months, we sold guerrilla pizza from an illegal stand in our front yard, transforming our sleepy town center into a hub of activity, farm to table pizza, and camaraderie. We had become the localvore culture that attracted us to Vermont in the first place.
It was incredible, it was fun, it was a dream come true. But alas, all dreams come to an end, especially with the short days and cold nights of autumn in southern Vermont.
This winter, we (my wife Amber, me and our son) forgot about pizza for a little while. I looked for conventional jobs, she switched gears at Kindle Farm School from growing food to logging, and our son settled in to snowboarding season.
After the job hunt reminded me why I left corporate America and New York City in the first place, we decided to revive Pizza Hippo, but in a legal, legit kind of way.
We figured the best way to do this would be to get off the hill, and partner with each other at the Kindle Farm School Organic Vegetable Stand. She would raise the veggies with her so called troubled students (good kids with tough situations IMHO) and I would turn them into Vermont's Best Organic Pizza. Side by side, we'd bring our creation to the forefront of the community while giving the boys something to be proud of.
At this point, we've got a deal in principal with the school, and we're also set up to vend at five local farmer's markets per week, as well as a few festivals. How we're going to manage all of this is still being decided, but its a very exciting time.
Our hope is to showcase the hard work of the Kindle Farm boys, feed the community, and develop a profitable model for a national restaurant chain to truly source locally. Transforming communities one Vermont organic pizza at a time. Pizza Hippo. It Hits the Spotamus!