The Firestarter Interview series highlights those who share our passion for craft and our commitment to the highest standards possible. Our aim is to celebrate the creativity and dedication of those who strive for perfection, in whatever endeavor that may be.
Hearth & Fire® is pleased to present Part 4 of a 4-part interview series with Andris Lagsdin, founder of Baking Steel. Baking Steel has become a favorite of professional chefs and home cooks alike for its high level of conductivity, which allows pizza to cook faster and more evenly, resulting in a beautiful, thin, crispy crust. We at Hearth & Fire® have long been fans of Baking Steel, and were excited to have a conversation with Andris about our shared commitment to craft -- and shared love of pizza! What follows is a conversation between our own Chef Erik Jones and Andris. We hope you will enjoy the discussion as much as we did!
ERIK JONES: Let’s talk about pizza. One of the things we talked about was that char – that leoparding on the edge.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: When I make pizza with char and I put it on Instagram, I get a much better reaction than when I don’t have char. It adds a lot of character to it.
ERIK JONES: Agreed: Char is just one thing that adds character, color, and flavor.
For example, on our Margherita Pizza, it’s basil. Those basil leaves are different in that they’re whole basil leaves, and they look different than most other pizzas. It’s nature; and the baking process, the char on the crust, it’s slightly different every single time. What we are hoping for is that this process and intentional care for our craft will be received very well by the consumer that knows about it and understands it, the same consumers that you’ve been educating for so many years.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: It adds dimension. It’s just incredible. The fact that we can do that at home, it’s amazing.
ERIK JONES: Even the prep steps are different. With this Hearth & Fire, because of the nature of the crust and the nature of the char, it does matter how you bake it in the oven. That’s why, for example, we have a thawing step. We recommend consumers thaw out the pizza on your countertop for twenty minutes before you put it in and again, that’s all about shortening that time between the middle of the toppings and right underneath the toppings in the middle and getting to temperature, and then the edge of the crust and we’re trying to align that time a little better, because there’s less tolerance for overbaking or underbaking.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: Why that, that’s great!
ERIK JONES: The Baking Steel, when I tested it, like you said, it really does improve the eating experience, being able to transfer that heat so quickly into the crust and into the pizza itself and that’s huge. That’s huge.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: That’s super-exciting. Such a great idea there. You have a good product. I think you guys are going to crush it on this thing. It’s really a good idea.
ERIK JONES: It’s what I’ve really been excited about, actually similar to what you were saying. There is something really powerful about being able to hand your product to somebody with full confidence that they are going to have a great experience. I’m really confident in what I handed out to people that they are going to have a great eating experience.
For us, Hearth & Fire Pizza exists for that occasion, where you need both to have an excellent pizza eating experience and the convenience of frozen pizza. But we’re not naïve. I’m fully aware that our consumer is making their own pizza and will continue to make their own pizza after.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: Of course. Hopefully, they’ll maybe turn to Hearth & Fire Pizza every so often, when they need that convenience to save time or anything. People have to eat frozen pizza, obviously. I still eat it. I’m going to use your products. Congrats to you. Your stuff looks amazing.
ERIK JONES: Thank you. Thank you so much. This has been a pleasure and I’ll talk to you soon.
ANDRIS LAGSDIN: Nice talking to you. Thank you.