Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Winters.
Jason, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am blessed. At a young age, I knew that I loved the hospitality industry. I already had an entrepreneurial spirit and loved cooking and watching “Great Chefs Great City’s” on the discovery channel. Way before the hype of the TV Food Network and the gram… It was genuine and authentic.
At 15 years old, I was already on the hotline at a restaurant in my home town city of Orange. Go Panthers !! As well as working for a catering company. At 18, I moved to vegas and worked for Julian Serrano (Picasso, Bellagio) and Alex Stratta (Renoir at the Mirage). Somebody once told me “Don’t spend money on culinary school. Go find the Best Chef in the WORLD and go work for them FOR FREE until they hire you. So that’s what I did. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I ended up working for 3 James Beard award-winning chefs and three mobile 5-star restaurants, way before Michelin ever came to the states. As much as I loved and hated some of them on a personal level, working for my mentor Suzanne Going was the most memorable and defining moment of my career. I took a step down from an executive chef position during the economic crash and became a cook again just to fill that void. She made me more relevant. And to this day. She continues to support and teach us in her sincere and loving way.
Then came Urban Pie….. Everyone new a decade before I started UP that I wanted to tow around a wood oven on wheels and make pizza. But I did not know how I was going to get there. I was an overpaid Chef De Cuisine who had to cut labor by working 80 hours a week. I was burnt. I called Mugniaini whom build my oven. Received a quote with some sharky financing through a third party. And then contacted some friends of mine whom I cooked for over the years. There response… Don’t sign anything, come into our office on Monday and we will help you. I met with my Chris and Victor with a stapled 2-page business plan in hand. Chris cut me short and said, “How much do you need?” Sixty thousand I replied. Chris then opened his personal checkbook and wrote me a check for 60k. After all of my purchases, I was left with 6 thousand of working capital. I left my position as a CDC. I had to hustle because my wife Merly was six months pregnant.
I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was. But Urban Pie has now become a brand that LA is proud of. We operate out of our own massive building in the industrial district in East LA. With three mobile ovens and events, most could only dream up.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road is always bumpy when you are towing a 5-ton wood-burning oven lol. Being the pioneer of a new business model was not easy. I have had my fair share of the pie. Urban Pie has been robbed, sued, robbed again, stolen from, I have had a support vehicle lit on fire by someone who rented kitchen space from me. Oh yes and that time that an employee pulled the “Jacks Smirking Revenge” card from Fight club on me. Luckily the cameras were rolling on that one. When nobody else believes in you, you have to have the courage and the confidence to keep pushing. And grow the culture.
On a personal level, I learn the hard way. I have had to do everything from washing dishes, sales calls, kitchen prep, load-in and out, clean, shop, tow and execute events myself. All-day every day. My first party was a party of 70 by myself. After seven years, I still have not taken a vacation. Now I am learning how to become a better leader, mentor, and owner. I am comfortable and familiar with the business administration side of things. And creating a culture of people that are professional and badass at what they do has been my greatest achievement. The bar raises every day. We get better day by day and shift by shift.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Urban Pie Mobile Pizzeria – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Most think that Urban Pie is just a mobile pizzeria. In fact, we are a full-service catering company. From appetizers, platters, boards, and tables. To salads, pasta, baked sourdough bread, and desserts. As well as wood oven-roasted coffee to custom craft cocktails. Servers and Bartenders no problem. We can do a small birthday party of 30 people to a large corporate giant with 6000 people.
But hands down and unequivocally our Pizza is the star of the show. Of the pizza show. Our grains come from Washington, Utah, and California. Our dough is fermented naturally using a sourdough starter. And we do a long cold slow rise 4 to 5 days long before it gets cooked in 1 minute at 900 degrees in a hot brick oven. The digestibility through proper fermentation is a really big deal. Glucose and insulin resistance are much lower than most other pizzas. And I know this because slow foods have sponsored me to be implanted with a 24/7 Dexcom Blood glucose monitor. I can literally monitor it through a phone app. Love technology…. lol. I am waiting for the day I can have a self-driving wood-burning oven. It will happen.
Besides that we stretch the mozzarella curds in house, make our own sausage, bacon, pancetta, meatballs, and pasta. Pretty much everything we make.
Not to throw you all for a loop but we also own Hearth & Olive which is a California inspired middle eastern catering company. Have fun with that too.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is surrounding yourself with great people. Building a sustainable culture of passionate, hard-working and happy people. That care about themselves and my company. People who want to be successful in life. It is my job to make sure they stay organized and to be organized. The next success for me would be to do it even better.
- Our minimum is 1100 and that usually serves 30 people
- Address: 4528 E Washington Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90040
- Website: https://urbanpiela.com
- Phone: 3232657334
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/urbanpiela
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Urbanpiela/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/urban-pie-mobile-pizzeria-los-angeles
- Other: https://www.instagram.com/curatedagency