When was the last time you had a completely allergy free pizza that tasted good? No, I’m not talking about the last time you saw a sign for a gluten free pizza, or you tasted a frozen gluten free pizza, or even made your own.
I’m talking about a bonafide allergy free pizza that’s completely safe for people with severe food allergies to eat – free of gluten, free of more than just the top 8 allergens – yet still delicious.
After a touching moment with his son, that’s exactly what former PR executive Steve Negri set out to do…
A few years ago, Steve brought home a box of pizza for the family to eat from his local pizzareia, Mandy’s Pizza, in Pittsburgh, PA. His son Brandon, who was 7 at the time and who suffers from several severe food allergies, walked over to the pizza and began to open the box.
Steve caught Brandon in the act and immediately shouted, “No Brandon, you can’t eat that!”
But Brandon wasn’t attempting to eat the pizza, which he and his father knew would have dire results. He merely replied, “I know daddy, I just want to smell it.” Brandon then proceeded to question why they never had pizza he was able to eat.
Steve never had any intent of making his own allergy free pizza, but that sad moment was exactly why he made the life changing decision to create a delicious pizza his son could actually enjoy.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as one would think. Though Steve had owned Mandy’s pizzeria for years and they had perfected their recipes, creating a pizza free of every single allergen (except yeast) was no easy task.
He wanted to make sure that there were absolutely no food allergens that could be found in the crust and he knew the flavor just wouldn’t be right if he went the route of several other companies who make pizza crust using beans or rice.
Six months after the decision to create an allergy free pizza, 24 trial crusts, and several thousands of dollars later, Steve finally created a pizza he thought was worthy of his son’s approval. Immediately he called his wife, asking her to bring Brandon in to the store.
Steve topped the pizza with olive oil and regular cheese (both safe for Brandon to eat) and served his first real allergy free pizza.
Steve said, “The look on Brandon’s face was worth all of the time invested for him to enjoy his first pizza.” He loved it.
Five minutes later, Steve looked out into his shop to find Brandon doing lunges in the middle of the store. Confused, he yelled out to ask his son exactly what he was doing.
With his mouth full and both thumbs up, Brandon yelled, “Making room for more Daddy!” The pizza was a winner and Steve knew he had done something right.
Being a former PR executive and knowing his crust could help thousands of people with food allergies, Steve sent out three press releases about the pizza: two to non-profits in the area, and one to a local food blogger.
Two days after the launch of the press releases and the pizza, their website was innundated with complaints.
But they weren’t to tell Steve his pizza was no good. And they weren’t to let Steve know people had gotten sick. The complaints were because Mandy’s Pizzeria had sold out of all their allergy free pizza in less than 48 hours!
People were traveling from miles away to enjoy his pizzas, something many of them had not been able to experience in years, if ever.
At this moment, Steve knew he was really on to something and they had to make more. And make more they did…
To find out more about Mandy’s Pizza and the many awards they have won along with the other allergy free foods they sell (including hoagies) visit:
**The FULL version of this article originally appeared in the March Allergy Free Monthly print newsletter.
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