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Author Topic: Health Department Red Tape  (Read 987 times)

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Offline PizzaDaddy

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Health Department Red Tape
« on: January 25, 2022, 12:32:07 PM »
Hey, pizza people--

Question for all of you fanatics and professionals. Due to NC regulations, our Forza Forni Caterer oven only allows us to bake pies on site that have been pre-topped prior to service. We learned this yesterday after spending an entire season stretching, topping, and baking pies to order. What they're asking for is a real nightmare since that's totally against our brand and could really diminish the quality of what we have to offer.

We're throwing around ideas to try and meet the requirements while trying to maintain the quality that our fans have come to expect. That being said--one idea that we've thought of is to make calzones.

Does anyone have an experience with pre-filling calzones and then baking at a later time? Any success? Any advice? We use a long-fermented Neapolitan style dough on a 800 degree cooking floor powered by wood alone. We're starting the long dough making process this evening to test a batch in a few days.

We need the pizza peoples' help! We appreciate any wisdom you can provide.

Ethan--Pizza Daddy

If you'd like to see out setup you can find us at:
@pizzadaddyavl on IG and Facebook

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Health Department Red Tape
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2022, 12:41:13 PM »
What is the regulation they say you're not following?
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
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Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: Health Department Red Tape
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2022, 03:46:47 PM »
I feel like I have seen posts for other mobile pizza operations in North Carolina. Quick Google search found a few. King of Fire, Carolina Crust and Presti are some names I found.

It would help if you weren't competing in their market, but pizza people tend to help pizza people. Maybe reach out and ask how they work around the code giving you an issue.

But I'm with Craig, what is the issue? As long as safe food handling protocols are in place, I can't see why a pre topped pizza is safer to eat after being cooked than one stretched/topped on site.


Offline wb54885

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Re: Health Department Red Tape
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2022, 04:52:24 PM »
Asheville/Buncombe has no idea what to do with an outdoor mobile oven. They want you to be a fully enclosed food truck that they can inspect exactly like a brick and mortar restaurant, or be a caterer that only heats and serves food that has been fully prepared off site at a commissary. I’m guessing you tried to exist as a Temporary Food Establishment and they struck that down? That’s supposed to allow you to “cook” or at least assemble food on site…

If so, my advice is to use the private chef exemption and only work with private events/clients you know and trust. Now that you’re in their sights, seems like a slim chance you’ll be able to do public events like farmers markets, etc. without caving to these rules that make it impossible to do what you want to do in a satisfying way.

If you haven’t yet tried the Temporary Food Establishment route, that’s your next best bet. Very curious to hear about your experience though. In my own experience talking to the health department here, their attitude toward the wood fired trailer was about 70% confusion, 30% hostility.
Every oven is a law unto itself and only itself.

Online scott r

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Re: Health Department Red Tape
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2022, 07:57:48 PM »
In my own experience talking to the health department here, their attitude toward the wood fired trailer was about 70% confusion, 30% hostility.

This is exactly what I experienced!   

I always recommend that people thinking about a new mobile operation do a pre-plan with the city or town they want to be vending in the most.  Im sure they prefer this over seeing a new truck show up blind for the first time asking permission to vend.  They want to be involved in the trucks because they are unreasonably fearful of them.  I met with the Boston board of health and also the fire department before I purchased anything.  Now that I have been in the business for many years and I know how difficult they want to make it for food trucks, I think that either fire or health would have not allowed it if I had come in with my same truck fully built out.  I was the first person to try do it in Boston, and there was definitely a huge learning curve for all parties involved.   

That meeting brought down the hostility quotient and they said they would allow it but that my oven had to be contained within the kitchen. Only with that scenario would they let me operate in Boston.  An oven with outdoor access or located in a trailer was off limits and then of course I had inspections much more regularly than the once a year you typically see in a restaurant.   They are for sure much more strict on the trucks.  I have even been told by health.. "if we even see you opening a can of tomatoes on the truck we will shut you down".  In the end this was fine, as it is easier to do all the prep out of a restaurant than try to do anything like that on the truck.

Pizzadaddy, My heart goes out to you.  I have navigated lots of twists and turns over the years with the food truck and health/fire.  I will help you in any way I can.  feel free to PM me any time and we can talk on the phone.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2022, 11:49:50 AM by scott r »

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Offline theppgcowboy

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Re: Health Department Red Tape
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2022, 08:18:54 PM »
Sorry to have missed your post about wanting to get set up in a mobile pizza set up. When I see them i encourage them start up a conversation with the local health department to know exactly what they will allow. It seems some inspectors feel they can and should make up the rules as they go. When I do post this advice it seems others feeli t is being a nay sayer, an encourage the poster to just go for it. I just try to help them avoid what you are going through now.
As Craig asked what are the issues they are having? Do you have a hand wash sink? Can you post  a photo of your set up? Maybe there is something that can be modified to allow on site pizza prep.
As far as calzones we tried it in our operation and it really did not go over too well.

Good luck

Offline PizzaDaddy

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Re: Health Department Red Tape
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2022, 11:32:17 AM »
Hello, everyone! You rock, big time.

So... We've had both a TFE and a "catering" permit previously and have had no issue until now. We even crushed the inspection back in May and were given the thumbs up to operate. PPGCowboy, you nailed it. It just depends on who you talk to. One person says go and another says stop.

Handwashing set-up is allowed to consist of a 5 gallon cooler filled with hot water, a grey water bucket underneath, and soap w/ towels.

Scott R--that's a great idea. I've had nothing but positive experiences with the gentleman that I've worked with in the past--he's just a textbook rule-follower to a T. I can't fault him for it since that's literally his job, but he's not so helpful when it comes to assisting with solutions or accomodations.

Jon in Albany-- "what's the issue" is exactly what I'm trying to ascertain. We've nailed every inspection with flying colors and so has our commissary. Feels like red tape for the sake of there being red tape.

Thanks all for the insights--We'll persevere.

PizzaDaddy

Offline peakpizza

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Re: Health Department Red Tape
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2022, 09:49:38 AM »
I know this is an older post, but just wanted to see what conclusions you came to with the health department as far as getting permitted and being allowed to operate with your intended model?  I experienced similar confusion and inability to get answers when seeking the exposed wood fired oven trailer model.  In addition, they want the trailer stored in a fully enclosed area when not in use.  Basically this model would only allow for TFE and private catering, and that is only if no other issues arise.  Did the local fire department have any input on the permitting of your operation or wood oven? 

It is definitely frustrating because most other states seem to have no issue with this type of operation, as long as proper protocols are followed. 

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