Scott Gittrich is the founder and CEO of Toppers Pizza. These are his thoughts on life, leadership and pizza.
Pizza is the best food on earth! Unfortunately, the big chains and every gas station on every corner are giving pizza a bad name.
Great pizza has great fresh ingredients, is made with love and delivered fresh—the way we do it at Toppers. We respect pizza and everything it means. We take pride in every ingredient and every step in the process.
Every year in early September, the tomatoes grown for Toppers pizza sauce begin reaching their peak of ripeness and are ready for picking. Last year, I accompanied Geff Lippold, Toppers director of purchasing, to the beautiful farms located about two hours south of San Jose, California, in an area known as the “Fertile Valley.” The company that packs our tomatoes is owned by four farmers, and this year they are farming almost 30,000 acres of tomatoes! Early in the morning, we jumped in a truck and toured the farms where our tomatoes were being picked. When we finally got there, I immediately had to grab a tomato and just chomp into it. Wow!
Last year, we committed to buying about 35 acres of tomatoes. That may not sound like much until you learn that each acre produces about 50 tons of ripe tomatoes. So, we used 3.5 million pounds in the last year! The tomatoes we buy are one of 25 different varieties that these folks grow, and we have chosen this particular tomato for its color, flavor and texture, among other attributes. The plants begin as seeds of course, grown in nurseries until they are about 8 inches tall. At that time, they are transplanted by hand in the best tomato growing ground in the world. About 1/3 of all the tomatoes grown in the entire world are grown in California, and a good chunk of those are right there in the Fertile Valley. Side note: California cheese is truly lame, but they kick ass with tomatoes. We know where to get great cheese too, of course!!
From the time the tomatoes are picked, they are cleaned, peeled, crushed and packed for shipping within 4 hours! This part of the process is truly a sight to behold. These red beauties are the most important ingredient in our famous pizza sauce that is still made today according to our original recipe.
I hope you are proud of the pizza sauce we use to make Toppers Pizza! I sure am. We also use the best spring wheat flour grown in the upper Midwest for our flour, and our cheese is all Wisconsin cheese from cows that live between Dave Gilewski’s store in Franklin, Wisconsin, and Joe Kirschling’s and Aaron Johnson’s stores in the Fox Valley.
In the hands of people that respect pizza like us, we make the best food on earth. We are pizza people and damn proud of it. Live it, love it, make it, deliver it, and eat it!