PMQ: With these new ingredients and crusts, will
you be adding new signature pizzas to your menu?
Ambrose: Yes! We have a continuous pipeline of new
pizza and side ideas, thanks to our creative employees.
We have also employed a professional chef from time to
time, especially to fine-tune some of our flavor profiles.
We especially like seasonal options, using fresh ingredients
with a limited time frame. We’re fortunate that all of our
restaurants are in California, where we have a continuous supply of locally sourced fresh ingredients. We also
hope to work more closely with some of the agriculture
programs at nearby universities.
PMQ: In our annual Pizza Power Report (December
2016), we recommended that our readers do exactly
what you’re doing—look into healthier, cleaner,
more organic ingredients. As someone who has
gone through this process yourself, was it harder
or easier than you expected it to be? What was the
toughest challenge or obstacle to overcome?
Ambrose: I won’t lie—it’s not easy. I’m actually amazed
how often we still see MSG, nitrates, high-fructose corn
syrup, etc. in topping options. We ask right away when
we look at new sources. The other challenge is finding a
consistent, reliable source that can produce the volume
we need. That’s been the toughest part with identifying
locally sourced ingredients at the community level. Many
of the small farms are blown away when we tell them how
much we need of a specific ingredient. Our Santa Barbara
store actually does a farmer’s-market pizza each week,
and I appreciate the lengths our manager there goes to in
sourcing what he needs for that pizza. I’d like to see this
implemented at all of our stores. But when we say we offer
a specific product, we don’t want to add “while supplies
last.” That’s frustrating to customers. This is a constant
challenge, and one that we will continue to pursue, since
our goal has always been to offer truly amazing pizzas.
Rick Hynum is PMQ’s editor-in-chief.
Woodstock’s has a “continuous pipeline of new pizza and side ideas,” thanks to its creative and engaged employees.