About Time You Met: Rich Baker and Sarah Brading, Founders of Flat Earth PizzaBy Angelica Malin
Introducing Flat Earth Pizzas, one of London’s only sustainable pizza brands run by couple Rich Baker and Sarah Brading.
Currently residing at The Railway Tavern in Dalston, Flat Earth have a different approach to pizza making with all elements made from scratch in-house to create seasonal, unique toppings. We chatted to Rich and Sarah about their eco-friendly menu, challenging classic pizza norms, and what’s next:
What sets Flat Earth Pizzas apart from other pizza companies?
Flat Earth’s mission is to serve ‘creative meat-free pizzas that are kind to the planet’. We create a menu built on strong relationships with independent suppliers and growers who are predominantly local to us in East London. Seasonality comes first and we change half of our dishes six times a year.
Flat Earth use 100% organic, heritage grain flour from a small farm in Northumberland resulting in a more wholesome, nutritionally-rich base compared with Italian 00 flour. Pickling and fermenting using traditional, ancient methods of preservation is common in the Flat Earth kitchen and helps us reduce food waste. We operate with minimal waste, proudly sending zero to landfill. We also forage some of our ingredients such as samphire, and use vegetables that are considered ‘seconds’ from local farms again, to reduce wastage.
Tell us about the menu:
We offer a selection of meat-free pizzas, all of which can be made vegan by swapping out the dairy cheese to the’artyvegan melty mozza. We regularly change the menu to be ultra seasonal, whilst offering long-standing classics all year round. These include the Hackney Hot with sweet pickled beets and fermented chilli salsa, the Kimchi & Cheddar and Flat Earth Margherita with cherry tomatoes pickled in a garlic brine. Current seasonal specials include foraged Essex Samphire and Balsamic Onion; Aubergine and Courgette Ratatouille Calzone; Pear and Pickled Gooseberries; and BBQ Chestnut Mushrooms.
Everything is made from scratch – from kimchi to sauces and dips. Our passata recipe contains garlic and thyme fermented organic local tomatoes, and our dairy cheese is made from a bespoke recipe of three different Cheddars from Quickes family farm in Somerset.
What’s your favourite item from the menu?
It has to be the Hackney Hot. It’s our antidote to the ubiquitous American Hot and a hit from day one. We pickle beets in a sweet vinegar and combine them with fermented jalapenos, hot scotch bonnet salsa and a rhubarb compote. Beetroot on a pizza is a real winner, plus it’s very versatile as a root vegetable; the skins are dehydrated and turned into dust for a pizza topping and we blitz the ‘wonky’ parts into a beetroot hummus to reduce any potential food waste.
How’s the response been to your menu?
Our new menus are always really well received. We have regular customers who come in monthly and order via Deliveroo in the meantime. It’s always entertaining to see avid carnivores dubious about meat-free pizzas only to exclaim that it’s the best pizza they’ve ever eaten! We put a lot of thought into our pizzas and flavour combinations and it’s great that customers appreciate something different at Flat Earth that challenges the status quo of the everyday pizza place.
What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with?
Maldon Sea Salt; it’s so much more than a seasoning. Our kimchis, krauts, garlic brines and ferments all begin with Maldon sea salt. Lacto-fermenting vegetables is a wonder to behold, massaging salt into vegetables transforms texture, flavour and lifespan. Sprinkling a little salt at service to our pizzas or brownies adds another dimension to the taste. We don’t accept cheaper alternatives at Flat Earth and would recommend spending the extra pennies on such a quality ingredient.
How is it working with your partner?
It’s challenging at times but it’s great to be working together to achieve the same goal. We often wonder how couples manage to start their own businesses individually, it’s so time-consuming. By doing it together, we know exactly what the other one is going through and can be ultra-supportive. We’ve had to learn how to communicate in a whole new way and are very conscious in the way that we behave. Ultimately, we have complete trust in each other and have matching work ethics and visions for the future.
What are Flat Earth’s plans for the future?
We love our current residency at Railway Tavern in Dalston but we are looking for our first bricks and mortar site which is hugely exciting! We’d like to open a restaurant that offers coffee during the day and is the most beautiful and cosy place to come and dine. In the grand plans is a range of jarred ferments to be enjoyed at home, as well as creating a retail space in the restaurant selling a range of organic and eco-friendly products.
It’s important for us to continue with our sustainable practices in order to create the blueprint for food businesses that want to do better. We’ll continue to grow our team and create a nurturing environment to work in. As a commitment to all of this, Flat Earth will start an application to become a BCorp.
The Railway Tavern, 2 St Judes Street, Mildmay Ward, London N16 8JT