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Couple Starts the Ultimate Pizza Delivery Business: A Wood-Fired Pizza Oven on Wheels

Imagine fresh mozzarella, artisan sausage and carmalized onions melding on a thin, perfectly crispy crust inside the warm embrace of a wood-fired oven.

Or a the luscious combination of fresh cherries, chocolate chips and creamy Nutella atop a sugar-dusted crust so perfect only the food fairies could have sprinkled it there.

Thankfully, right here in Redding, husband-and-wife team Aaron and Cyndel Rushton make these food fantasies come true with their newest venture, Cinders Wood-Fired Pizza.

The Rushtons and their portable pizza oven will greet guests at the entrance to “A Havest Sampler, Locavore’s Delight” – a food and wine event on Oct. 7  in downtown Redding.  I talked to Cyndel about their culinary adventure and their commitment to the local food scene.

You seem to have your hands full – a move, a new baby and a new business.

Life has certainly been a wild ride lately! There isn’t much sleep to be had and the laundry and dishes doubled overnight but we are in a season of humble gratefulness.

We’ve been blessed with so many great friends and family who have offered so much to see us thrive at home and succeed with our business.

What attracted you to creating food as a business?

When we started dating we were long distance and after the long drive to see one another, we would spend time cooking and enjoying a late night meal together.

Cyndel and Aaron Ruston started their new business, Cinders Wood Fired Pizza the same year they moved to Redding and had a new baby. Photo courtesy of Cyndel Rushton.

We’ve always been food lovers but the ritual also created a love for the process. When we dreamed about starting a business together, we wanted to share that ritual and establish a sense of community through good, local, simple food.

Q: Why wood fired pizzas?

Wood fired pizza started as simple peasant food. They used what was inexpensive and readily available. We love the simplicity of pizza as a canvas. We enjoy creating new recipes and adding unique ingredients. There’s also something magic about the fire. When you’ve experienced a catering or event with a wood fired brick oven, it’s hard to resist!

We also love the challenge of a new art, from achieving a great dough and learning how to stretch and toss to balancing flavors, we’re constantly learning. And the oven is for more than just pizza, we enjoy making bread, cooking a variety of meat (we had some amazing half chickens the other night, they came out beautifully!), playing around with appetizers and more. Aaron’s latest project is wood-fired doughnuts!

Q: How often do you source fresh, local ingredients for your pizzas?

We source locally as often as we can, right down to the base! Our dough is made using flour, salt and yeast from Moore’s Flour Mill in downtown Redding.

Cinders Wood Fired Pizza dough is made from local ingredients. Photo courtesy of Cyndel Rushton.

We buy from local farms first and change our menu based on seasonal offerings. Some of our meats and cheeses are also sourced locally. One of our most creative and fun offerings; the peanut butter and jelly pizza features peach jam from the Farmer’s Market that can’t be beat.

Q: Tell me about the oven.

Our Italian-style brick oven comes from a Northern California company that specializes in home and commercial wood fired ovens.

Aaron Rushton removes a pizza from Cinders Wood Fired Pizza oven at the Farmers Market Saturday. Photo by Adam Mankoski

From there, it was placed onto a customized mobile trailer by a partnership of two companies in Colorado. It is entirely wood fired. We purchase oak wood from a local company that works to counsel and employ special needs men in the Redding area. The oven takes about an hour to heat up past 600 degrees and we keep it between there and 900 degrees for making pizza. It also retains heat overnight enabling us to roast meats and bake bread.

Q: What’s your favorite pizza on your menu?

Our sausage pie. Hand stretched dough topped with our own red sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella. It features two different kinds of sausage from local favorite Furnari Sausage Co.; a ground Italian sausage and linked Sicilian sausage. Finally, it’s topped with onions caramelized with Pyramid’s Apricot Ale. (a West Coast favorite)

Q: What will be on the menu for A Harvest Sampler on Oct. 7?

We plan on offering three varieties of pizza at the event: our sausage pizza, a fig and goat cheese pizza and we are undecided on the third at this time. We’ll be exploring what’s in season and experimenting with flavors for the next week.

We’d love suggestions for what readers would like to see offered.

Cinders is just one of the local food purveyors guests can sample when A News Cafe and Slow Food Shasta Cascade present “A Harvest Sampler, A Locavore’s Delight” – an evening of food, wine and beer in the Slow Foods tradition, Oct. 7 in downtown Redding. Click here for more information about this celebration of local cuisine

You can find Aaron and Cyndel in front of the oven every Saturday at the Redding Farmer’s Market at Redding City Hall. They plan to add the Tuesday Market in the Fall. They can also bring the oven to you.

Call 541-324-0677 or email thebigcheese@cinderspizza.com or visit them on Facebook for more information.

Adam Mankoski enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He lives in Redding.