A Match Made in Oven
As a lover of both regional grains and long fermentation, Christina Ermilio met founder Martina Kenworthy through Slow Food NYC. A few years back Martina shared her pizza project concept with Christina, and they started to work together on determining the best recipe. They agreed that the company’s values needed to shine through, starting with the base of the entire project…the crust!
Regional grains interest Christina and the entire La Rossi team, as they support the local economy and diversity in the type of grains grown and consumed, as well as enhance the flavor, texture, and nutritional content. The La Rossi team considered their options for flours to use in the dough, both in terms of the producers as well as the specific type of grains. They were immediately drawn towards Farmer Ground Flour (“FGF”), a company built on a collaboration of millers and farmers in Upstate New York. Their farmers grow a variety of grains and the millers grind them into flour using a custom stone-mill. Christina and the La Rossi team chose this flour particularly because of its unique flavor: not only are the grain varieties different from what is typically found in commodity flour, but FGF also maintains as much of the original grain as possible, therefore keeping much of the individuality and nutrients of the grains in the flour. Rather than using a white flour (with all the germ and bran removed) solely for our crust, Christina and the team decided to incorporate some of FGF’s cornmeal and whole wheat flour, both of which provide added texture and flavor to our crust. The white flour provides the fluffy and light texture, while also creating a blank slate for the flavor of these other regional flours – and for the toppings!
Until August 2021, Christina helped manage the dough and pizza production, and then she took an opportunity to move to Rome to learn more about sustainable food systems. La Rossi pizza straddles the classic New York and Italian styles of pizza, with influences from both extensive pizza cultures. Rome seemed like the perfect place for Christina to explore and continue to expand her knowledge of pizza and flours. For the past six months, she has certainly consumed her fair share of pizza (important research!), but she has also connected with the Comunità Slow Food del Grano dell’Alto Appennino tra Bologna e Firenze (Slow Food Grains Community of the Upper Apennine Mountain Range between Bologna and Florence). She is working on an event with them in May, in which bakers, millers, and farmers will come together to discuss how to better the connection between urban and rural communities and businesses, as well as ways to improve our soil and our diets. In school, she is studying how to create a more sustainable food system. She is planning to write her thesis on how to better communicate the regional grain movement along the entire food chain. All of this connects to what we envision at La Rossi Pizza… using the best ingredients, supporting our entire supply chain, minimizing our environmental impact, and ultimately creating the most delicious, crispy frozen pizza crust anywhere!