Ladies in Pizza: How Pizzaiolas Are Shaping the Business’s Future

  • It’s time for the feminine leaders of the pizza trade to get the eye—and credit score—they deserve, and that’s what the Ladies in Pizza motion is all about.
  • On this Q&A, we discuss to Alexandra Mortati, cofounder of the motion, and Stephanie Swane of Modernist Delicacies about how girls are shaping the way forward for pizza.

Associated: Learn the 2023 Pizza Energy Report right here!

By Rick Hynum

Ladies have at all times been the driving drive behind the pizza trade, to not point out the namesakes of beloved impartial pizza outlets across the nation. Mamas and nonnas created—or definitely impressed—the recipes for a lot of of our favourite hometown pizzerias from the beginning. So why do males get all of the credit score? Why are whiskered dudes depicted because the “faces” of the trade? And why haven’t you seen extra girls on the quilt of PMQ?

That final one, after all, is our fault. True, many ladies have graced PMQ’s covers in previous years, however they’re usually pictured with their co-owner husbands. Solo feminine operators have been few and much between as cowl topics—most just lately, Janet Duran, proprietor of 550 Pizzeria in Laredo, Texas, in August 2022, and Megan Jones-Holt, the “Pizza Witch” of Stockton, New Jersey’s Market Pizza in March 2021. (Jones-Holt has since offered Market Pizza.)

PMQ can—and can—do higher in 2023. And all due credit score goes to the Ladies in Pizza motion, based in September 2019, for spurring us on. For our latest Pizza Energy Report, we spotlighted the motion and posed some inquiries to its cofounder, Alexandra Mortati, the inventive director of Orlando Meals Gross sales, in addition to Stephanie Swane, writer and editorial director of Modernist Delicacies (which launched the three-volume Modernist Pizza earlier this yr). Swane additionally hosts the Instagram Reside streamcast referred to as “Ladies in Pizza.”

Mortati and Swane each consider it’s time for feminine pizzaioli to step ahead and get the eye they deserve. We couldn’t agree extra. Right here, we current the total Q&A with these trade leaders concerning the previous and current function of ladies within the pizza trade and the way they’re already shaping its future.

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Alexandra Mortati

PMQ: Are you able to inform us a bit bit about Ladies in Pizza and its targets and the way you’re implementing these targets?

Alexandra Mortati: Ladies in Pizza is a motion that empowers girls within the pizza trade to share their tales, show their skills, encourage improvements, and join with each other and the world. Whether or not you’re a pizza maker, supervisor, proprietor, distributor, producer or importer, you’re a girl in pizza, and your function is essential. Our purpose is to present a voice to the underrepresented feminine section of the trade and to encourage extra girls to comply with their pizza ardour and be a part of.

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To implement our targets, my colleague Casey Derk and I created an internet platform with social media handles and an internet site. We additionally host and take part as Ladies in Pizza in in-person occasions across the nation, just like the Pizza Expo, Chicago Pizza Competition, Las Vegas Pizza Competition and extra.

Associated: Click on right here to go to the Ladies in Pizza web site.

Additionally: Click on right here to comply with Ladies in Pizza on Instagram.

PMQ: It looks like we’re seeing extra girls “emerge from the shadows” (to make use of Stephanie’s phrases) within the pizza trade. Why do you assume that’s occurring proper now?

Mortati: I believe media and articles like this one and the elevated assist of the pizza group have made extra room for girls to emerge. Whether or not it’s intentional or not, as girls, we’re conditioned to be quieter and submissive. It’s arduous to interrupt that cycle and make house the place, for therefore lengthy, there was none. I have a look at girls like our ambassadors, who needed to overcome chauvinistic hurdles at each flip and weren’t given the respect or acknowledgment they deserved just because they had been girls. It’s girls like them that paved the way in which. They took up house and, whereas doing so, empowered extra girls to take up house alongside them.

Stephanie Swane: Just a few issues, I believe, have helped, together with the media: Ladies are literally getting coated. Once I began engaged on Modernist Pizza over 5 years in the past and studying pizza commerce magazines, hardly ever did I see a photograph of a girl making pizza, featured as an proprietor, writing articles and even featured in provider pictures from tools to components.

Whereas girls began profitable [culinary] competitions, they weren’t the main focus. Take a look at the protection for Laura Meyer profitable [second place in] the World Pizza Championship competitors in 2013. Just one journal cowl per yr over the past three years has featured a girl.

[Editor’s note: As you’ll see in this link, Meyer and third-place winner, Mara Mancosu, barely get mentioned at the end of the story.]

Scott Weiner has been writing about girls within the pizza trade for his weblog since 2017 and began writing about girls in 2019 for Pizza At present. Severe Eats included a number of feminine writers and options principally male-owned pizzerias, with one characteristic on Nancy Silverton.

What number of workshops characteristic a girl main the discuss/workshop at Pizza Expo over the past 5 years? What number of occasions has a girl been a keynote speaker? Ann Kim [founder of Hello Pizza and Pizzeria Lola] was the keynote in 2018. If that is the largest present for the trade, why is all the things nonetheless very male-dominated? Competitions are additionally seeing extra girls within the highlight with profitable pizzas in each the U.S. and Italy. This has loads to do with girls now on the 2 main American groups: the U.S. Pizza Crew and the World Pizza Champions. In 2013, Florina Pastore from Italy gained the Worldwide Pizza Problem. Who was the primary girl on any of the U.S. pizza groups and when?

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To be clear, the ladies have been there, however they’re not the main focus. The primary pizzaiola I met whereas engaged on Modernist Pizza was Giorgia Caporuscio, and he or she was working at Keste. Now she’s working Don Antonio in New York Metropolis, one of many only a few pizzerias owned by girls in a metropolis with hundreds of pizzerias.

I’d like to see somebody truly write and share information concerning the questions I increase since among the best methods to beat an trade dominated by males is transparency.

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Stephanie Swane, with bright red hair and cat's-eye-shaped glasses, peers over a tray with a large Margherita pizza
Stephanie Swane

PMQ: So why don’t we see extra girls proudly owning pizzerias?

Mortati: So many pizzerias are named after the ladies who impressed them, whether or not it’s a grandmother, spouse, mom, and so forth., however it’s not stunning to me that you just see much less pizzerias owned by girls. Historically, girls had been anticipated to be homemakers, whereas males had been those with careers, working companies and cooking professionally. Naturally, the ladies who taught them to prepare dinner or shared their household recipes impressed their companies. At present, a variety of the ladies who’re part of these companies co-own them with members of the family and may be discovered behind the scenes. We’re nonetheless in a time the place the shift is occurring. As illustration will increase and ladies begin to see others who appear like them working these companies, hopefully they really feel empowered to comply with their pizza ardour and be a part of the trade.

Swane: Males are different present feminine pizzaiolas as inspiration. I don’t hear girls saying that their recipes are from their fathers/grandfathers. As an alternative, girls establish within the current with inspiration.

Ladies are actually in a position to get small enterprise loans and have the backers to create capital to open their very own companies. COVID-19 created a brand new paradigm for many individuals to shift from what they had been doing within the company world to self-employment, particularly in the event you have a look at what number of start-ups started from [the owners’] properties and ventured into pop-ups, check kitchens and meals vans. Ladies are discovering methods to construct a enterprise mannequin that works whereas juggling household duties too.

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this photo shows Alexandra Mortati and Stephanie Swane posing in front of several signs in Italian
Stephanie Swane and Alexandra Mortati are a formidable workforce for Ladies In Pizza.

PMQ: Any thought why they’re stepping ahead now and taking their well-deserved place within the highlight?

Swane: Motivation. I believe girls are sick of being pushed apart and are very happy to place their elbows up and struggle for his or her well-deserved spot alongside their pizzaiolo allies. The highlight is actually making room for them now.

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PMQ: In your opinion, how will girls homeowners make the pizza trade stronger?

Mortati: Ladies within the pizza group have at all times been and can proceed to be important to the development of the pizza trade. Simply because they might not have been the particular person you noticed behind the counter doesn’t imply they haven’t been part of the trade. Many ladies have labored behind the scenes and are the explanation companies have saved their doorways open. They’ve been the inspirations and folks behind the recipes for generations. Ladies carry diversified skills, expertise, experiences and views that may solely assist the trade proceed to evolve!

Swane: Range at all times makes an trade higher, breaking down limitations and creating an alliance to encourage extra girls by sharing their tales and letting different girls know that they aren’t alone. Pizza is all about sharing, and ladies in pizza are there to assist create a greater trade for all.

Stephanie Swane poses with a large, diverse group of female pizza makers
Stephanie Swane and a posse of pizzaiolas

PMQ: Stephanie, are you able to inform us the story behind your Ladies In Pizza streamcast on Instagram Reside? And what are you studying from the ladies you’ve interviewed to date?

Swane: Whereas engaged on Modernist Pizza, I constantly requested pizza trade folks about girls I ought to meet. When COVID-19 hit, we stopped touring, so we couldn’t meet extra folks to interview for the guide. I met Alexandra at Pizza Expo and cherished the motion she was beginning. We mentioned doing a number of interviews with the launch of Modernist Pizza in October 2021.This was a good way for me to talk with key girls I met that we weren’t in a position to embody in Modernist Pizza. We began out with the Ambassadors of WIP on Modernist Delicacies IG Reside—Laura Meyer after which a panel with Nicole Russell, Giorgia Caporuscio, Shealyn Coniglio and Nicole Bean. We had a lot enjoyable and had so many extra girls we wished to speak to that Alexandra and I made a decision to kick off a weekly dialog on the WIP IG Reside in March 2022 along with Worldwide Ladies’s Day.

I’ve realized a lot from the number of girls that I had the pleasure of speaking to for 45 minutes, plus answering listeners’ questions. Each girl has a singular story, and so they all discovered their path to pizza in several methods. I’m so proud to know them and to be a part of their journeys and sit up for each time we collect collectively. It’s so nice to see extra alternatives for girls to encourage one another, attend one another’s workshops, eat at one another’s pizzerias and create a spot for everybody to be welcome.

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