“People love it. They’re often surprised that I’m just showing up and doing it. They ask what pizza company I’m with…they’re just amazed I come out.”
In 2020, Brian Rock bought a pizza oven to mount on the back of an old truck after seeing long lines at his local food banks. He created Elevated Pie Co. in order to use his pizza making abilities to help feed those who have fallen on hard times. A few months after his equipment was ready, a land-based hurricane with straight line winds devastated the town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“I woke up and saw what was happening, made some dough and headed right on out to help them. I ended up staying there for 3 days and made pizzas in different neighborhoods,” said Rock. “I started off at a trailer park that wasn’t getting any help from anybody and was able to get them all fed. They had no food, no way to eat, no nothing. No power, water, gas, everything was destroyed. So, it was really good to be able to sit there and use my skills.”
On his first trip to Cedar Rapids, he made about 700 pizzas and it immediately ignited his passion for serving those affected by disasters.
“At that time and even now, I’m still new to this; I’m still learning. I’ve been making pizza for a few years but doing it by myself and using my own dough and getting my own recipes going,” said Rock.
Rock is a veteran who retired from the military after he was injured. Because he no longer works, he is able to pick up and leave as soon as a storm touches down. Most recently, he headed out to Kentucky after a powerful tornado destroyed homes and buildings and took dozens of lives.
“I ended up teaming up with Operation BBQ Relief, who [Cambro] knows, and saw how they ran it and they helped me out buying food and whatnot, and I just really saw how they did it and how being linked up with other companies that you use to be able to help you keep your mission alive is really important,” said Rock.
When Rock arrives to a location, he preps his dough and proofs it in Cambro pizza dough boxes so that he can work as quickly as possible when hungry people arrive.
“[I like] Cambro because it’s a sturdy box, it’s very sturdy, it’s tested, it’s the industry standard,” said Rock. “
“It’s a perfect proof because my 280g balls, I can fit 12 or if I go down to a 10-inch pizza I can fit 24 in there. I can fit quite a bit of product. Plus, they’re non-stick; they’re really good. I don’t have to put flour on them.”
Rock originally purchased 10 Cambro pizza dough boxes, but he was only able to hold 120 portions of dough and then had to stop in the middle of service to roll more. Rock reached out to Cambro and told us about his mission and why he needed help. Our Cambro Cares program sent him two more cases of pizza dough boxes to help support his mission.
“[The additional dough boxes] more than doubled my production and efficiency. I didn’t have to break down halfway through to take my dough from bulk and roll it up and throw it into boxes and let it rise for two hours. I was able to, the night before, roll all my dough and throw it in the walk-in and then I was able to pull it as I needed it, which is a lot easier,” said Rock.
Rock’s goal is to build Elevated Pie Co. into a recognized non-profit organization so that he can afford to continue providing pizza to those who need it.
“We can’t get through situations alone. We really need to be a community and being a community starts with a good meal. A hot pizza brings people together and gets people talking—warms people. It’s important to be able to do it because I have the skills and the time and not everyone’s doing it. Since I’m able to, I need to get out there,” said Rock.
Click here to donate to Elevated Pie Co.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AT CAMBRO.