The following NY Times article ("First the Pizza's Delivered, Then It's Cooked") appeared today (May 24, 2006) at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/24/dining/24truc.html
on fellow member Doug Coffin's Big Green Truck.
SEVERAL years ago Douglas Coffin, a caterer in New Haven, built a portable bread oven that he planned to use at big events. When that did not work out (not cost-effective) he decided to put a wood-fired oven aboard a truck, drive to company picnics and birthday parties and make thin-crust pizzas for his clients.
With that idea came success. Mr. Coffin's company, Big Green Truck Pizza, now keeps him elbow-deep in dough for much of the year. In June he will roll out a second truck.
Mr. Coffin, 52, credits the many friends who helped build his first mobile pizzeria, among them the woodworker who made pine panels that serve as the sides of the truck bed and transform into picnic tables. Boating experts advised him on the generator and the sink. His new Mugnaini brick oven, imported from Italy, came the farthest, but each of the truck's components underwent its own kind of journey.
"There's not a single bit of material on this truck that's used in the way the manufacturer originally intended," Mr. Coffin said.
The truck, a 1946 International Harvester, had previously served as a fire truck in nearby Yalesville. It strains as it carries its six-ton weight, so Mr. Coffin limits his jobs mostly to southern Connecticut. He and an assistant need about an hour and a half to set up and get the oven hot enough to start cooking. The ingredients are prepared ahead but the pizzas are assembled on site, usually in front of a crowd.
"I'm sure psychiatrists have a bunch of reasons as to why we gather around fire," Mr. Coffin said.
Each pie cooks about three minutes before emerging with a brick-oven char. Mr. Coffin's topping combinations include the classic (tomato and mozzarella) and the unusual (mashed potatoes and bacon). The meal, for which he charges $950 for groups of 50 or so, also includes salad, gelato and cappuccino.
But "it's about more than the food," said Lauri Wichtowski of Deep River, Conn., whose 40th-birthday party was catered by Mr. Coffin. "It's the atmosphere that the truck creates, and the excitement."
Mr. Coffin has a more straightforward explanation for his success. "We make pizza," he said. "All you need is that and a green salad, and people are really happy."
Big Green Truck Pizza: (203) 397-5295, biggreentruckpizza.com