Flying Cow Pizza Rolls Out Classic Neapolitan Pie
A mobile wood-fired brick pizza oven is something that you don’t see every day, so when Flying Cow Pizza rolls into an event to craft Neapolitan-style pizza on the spot, baked to perfection in their brick oven, people tend to notice.
Brett Buchanan owns Flying Cow Pizza and operates it with his wife, Angela, and daughter, Lindsey. Buchanan and his brothers first saw a mobile wood-fired brick pizza oven in California around 2010 and decided to try it in the Midwest.
The Buchanans built a wood-fired pizza oven, and Tom, one of Brett’s brothers, started Grumpy Goat Pizza. Brett helped him run it, and a year later when Tom moved out west, Brett bought the business from him and made it his own, renaming it Flying Cow Pizza. He comes from generations of dairy farmers. During college, he decided not to continue in the dairy business so he “flew the coop,” with the cow reference connected to his heritage.
Tom now builds pizza ovens and does some pizza events in Arizona. Seth, another Buchanan brother, operates a mobile wood-fired brick oven pizza business in Colorado.
Buchanan handcrafted two 4-foot diameter ovens, and he’s working on a third oven. He makes his own pizza dough and sauce. “We make true Naples-style pizza. There, pizzas are done in a wood-fired oven at very high heat, around 900 degrees,” he said. “We get non-genetically modified flour from Italy and use the same type of oven and similar ingredients.”
The taste of pizza baked in a wood-fired brick oven is remarkably different. The high heat bakes the pizza in less than two minutes. The crust is crisped at the edges but still slightly chewy and flavorful. Buchanan obtains as many ingredients as he can seasonally.
The pizza offerings are simple and true to Italian pizza. A customer favorite, the margherita, dates back to 1700s Italy, Buchanan said, and it consists of tomato sauce, fresh basil, olive oil, sea salt and fresh mozzarella. “Most wood-fire pizza companies keep it to three or four toppings because, when cooking in an oven for a minute and half, a pile of toppings doesn’t create a good pizza.”
Buchanan noticed that Wisconsinites love meat, so Flying Cow Pizza offers a quality pepperoni pizza, the Bambino. The Market Special is a veggie pizza with feta and mozzarella, with vegetables from the farmers market he’s appearing at that day. The pizzas are sold whole, and the 12-inch pies average around $10 to $12 each. Pizzas in 14- and 16-inch sizes are offered for catering.
Buchanan has mastered most challenges involved with transporting a wood-fired brick pizza oven, such as vibrations, bumps in the road, freezing temperatures and humidity. “Cooking in a wood-fired brick oven outside in Wisconsin does offer challenges. If I toss the pizza up in the air when it’s windy, it carries the pizza,” he laughed. “It’s an old craft, and people got away from it because it’s hard to master.”
Flying Cow Pizza attends farmers markets in Oconomowoc, Lake Mills and Whitewater. They team up with Earth Fresh Acres for monthly Pizza on the Farm events. Buchanan uses their seasonal vegetables, and attendees have the option to try different things typically not found on pizza, such as beets or squash. Upcoming Pizza on the Farm nights will be Sept. 29 and Oct. 20. They also do catering for private events.
For more information, visit flyingcowpizza.com.