Pizza Hacker Jeff Krupman

2010 March 30
Pizza Hacker Jeff Krupman's Verdict: Unimpressed

Pizza Hacker Jeff Krupman's Verdict: Unimpressed

During SXSW I met up with Jeff Krupman, better known as The Pizza Hacker, a mobile street vendor in San Francisco who creates artisinal pizzas out of a hacked Weber BBQ.  The “FrankenWeber“, as he dubs it, reaches up to 1000°F, and supposedly creates damn good pizzas.  He emphatically says that he doesn’t do drunk pizza, and only uses the best ingredients like local organic heirloom tomatoes, alderwood smoked salt, etc.

He’s a remarkable guy.  He just figures stuff out and makes it work.  While he loves making pizzas in parks, he hopes to market and sell FrankenWebers all over, and his website mentions a desire to create a high-end tomato sauce.  His entrepreneurial energy allows him to try one thing, see how it plays out, and alter the idea on the fly.  Pizza Hacker indeed.

We’d been exchanging emails for a couple of months, and he said that he always wanted to open a pizza place called Home Slice, and was sorry that they‘d beaten him to the name.  He came to Austin for SXSW as a part of The Startup Bus, where his team created Txtli, a program that allows others to anonymously text you when your car is about to get towed or ticketed or whatever.  It was hard to carve out a time to meet since there was so much going on during SXSW, but we made it work towards the end of the week.

I felt paternally nervous when I took him to Home Slice.  Would he like it?  Find a problem with the sauce?  He’s a pizza maestro, and can knowledgeably dissect every aspect of pizza.  When he found out that Homeslice didn’t use sauce on their margherita, he was initially shocked before he resumed his “when in Rome” attitude.  He’ll give anything a try, so we got a half margherita (with sauce) and half anchovies, artichoke hearts, fried eggplant and garlic.

Sadly, he didn’t like the pizza.  After a meditative bite, he shrugged and politely told me “it’s alright”.  He certainly wasn’t trying to be rude, he was just offering his honest opinion.  My heart sorta sunk, it was like if I had asked him about my granddaughter’s cuteness.  It’s his right, and he certainly knows pizza, but I was still a little bummed.  He was crazy sick (his cough was mind-blowing and chest-shaking), and Erin thinks that might’ve clouded his tastebuds’ ability to appreciate quality, but his taste in other food around Austin seemed pretty spot on.  If anything, his dismissal of Homeslice made me want to try his pizza even more.

During a recent interview with Slice, the granddaddy of pizza blogs, he had this great quote that sums up his philosophical approach to pizza which I feel compelled to reproduce:

I make about $5 an hour (maybe less, I don’t have time to calculate) selling my pizzas for $12 to $18 a pizza. They are truly a labor of love. I mix the dough by hand, pick/can the sauce by hand. Make/transport the oven, etc. I spend more on olive oil or wood per pizza than Domino’s does on ingredients for a whole pie. If you think my pizzas are too expensive, Fuck You! Please enjoy your family farm–killing, exploited illegal immigrant–built, fake cheese–laden, nutritionally void, race-to-the-bottom pizza. You deserve it.

So there you go.  He seemed to really love Austin and talked about maybe coming here semi-permanently to kick the collective ass of the local mobile pizza scene, but I figure such talk is as cheap as it is common during SXSW.  That said, if it does come to fruition, I’ll be first in line.

Cost: $22.50
Total this year: $548

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 April 1

    Margherita style red pies are too soggy. All the moisture from the tomatoes and the fresh mozzarella doesn’t have a chance to dry out on a pie loaded with sauce. I think the best way to test a shops pie is having a slice of plain cheese. It’s too bad he didn’t like it, hopefully he’ll give it another chance.

  2. 2010 April 9

    wow, that picture really accurately sums up his opinion.

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