Text reads: Crafted with creamy, fresh mozzarella, 100% organic tomato sauce, zesty Primo pepperoni, marinated roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, fresh basil and Roma tomatoes. All on a thin, crisp cornmeal dusted crust.

None of this is surprising until you consider who is selling this pizza, the franchised chain, Round Table Pizza.

Ok, what is going on here? Is this something that foodies will embrace or pooh-pooh? I’m guessing tsk-tsk. For one thing Round Table calls this “organic” yet only makes claims that the sauce is 100% certified organic tomato sauce. What about the toppings? The crust?

They also use the term “artisan” because the pizza was developed by “Artisan chefs with ties to local farmers markets”. But does that make it “artisan”? I don’t think so really. Artisan means a skilled worker who practices some trade or handicraft. Whether a worker in a Round Table Pizza is a skilled worker is debatable. Is pizza making a trade? A handicraft? I’m just not sure.

What I am sure of is this. One way or another Round Table is embracing the language of Alice Waters. Of course it wasn’t slow food principles but the result of focus group testing that sealed the deal. I do wonder who it tested well with–those who eat at Round Table Pizza or those who seek out organic and artisanal products. Either way, this is something a 500 restaurant chain sees as a good move. Is Round Table a savvy marketer, hoodwinking the public, or the leader in a new food revolution? What do you think?

Artisan Pepperoni Pizza? 25 October,2006Amy Sherman

  • Jennifer Maiser

    “I do wonder who it tested well with–those who eat at Round Table Pizza or those who seek out organic and artisanal products.”

    Good question. I am guessing the former.

    The organic claim just bugs. And the artisan claim gives me a glimpse into the direction we’re probably heading … “Certified Artisan” anyone?

  • Tana

    At the behest of Michael Ruhlman, I just did a fair amount of research about so-called “artisanal” foods, and came up with two commonly cited criteria:

    1) Careful attention paid to the source of the ingredients. Organic/sustainable is important here.

    2) Hand-crafted. In the case of cheese, “hands in the curds” was what one expert told me.

    I wrote two posts on my blog about artisanal (and other) types of cheese:

    Article 1

    Article 2

    My conclusion is that “artisan” is replacing “gourmet” as the newest, meaningless marketing buzzword. You’ll know it is completely meaningless when you see it in a 7-11.

  • cookiecrumb

    Good remarks, you two.
    My guess for next buzz term: Native?
    Of course, they already use that in New England for locally grown food.
    Ooh. Hope they don’t f*** with “terroir” (which I don’t personally have much use for, but I respect those who might).

  • shuna fish lydon

    I think it can be said that in marketing, like love and war; all is fair. Any word, any person, any subject can be commodified, re-packaged and sold as anything people will believe is in there.

    Years ago a leading detergent was not getting any more buyers on their “new & improved” labeling. After many phrases were attached to the box you know what finally sold the soap?

    “New and Improved Flavour”

    Because I don’t eat detergent, I’d have to agree with you on this line:

    “Of course it wasn’t slow food principles but the result of focus group testing that sealed the deal.”

  • Carter Lusher

    The next terms? Try:

    “animal compassionate”
    “animal care certified”
    “certified humane”
    “free farmed”
    and et cetera. >>sigh< < Here is link to a post about some of the new marketing terms coming into the marketplace. http://www.foodnotebook.com/blog/2006/10/a_new_food_label_on_the_scene.html

  • cucina testa rossa

    so true shuna. from processed foods to wine to restaurants to cars to software, it’s all about the marketing.

  • Marc

    I saw the word “artisan” being used to describe a special hamburger bun (ciabatta?) for either Wendy’s or Jack in the Box a few months ago. There is no way that the dough for the buns ever touches human hands before baking. The word is definitely in danger of becoming meaningless.

    It’s sort of like “luxury” for new apartment buildings. When was the last new building that wasn’t a “luxury” building? “Visit Bayshore Views, a perfectly utilitarian new development”?

    Does the word “organic” only have legal meaning when attached to the word “certified”? Or have rules just not been developed for complex products which are fractionally organic?


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

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