Influencer Interview: Jo Tranchita of Seder’s Pizza

Influencer Interview: Jo Tranchita of Seder’s Pizza
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Nestled in Newberry, Mich., is Seder’s Pizza, the town’s original pizzeria and sandwich shop. Since Jo Tranchita took over the restaurant a couple of years ago, her goal was to keep tradition in place — with a twist. She’s taken employee creativity and mixed their new ideas with her own, creating a menu full of delicious grandma pizzas, rotating sandwiches and a love for competition. We spoke with Tranchita about how LloydPans has helped transform her business and how she approaches pizza making.

What was your philosophy when taking over Seder’s Pizza?
Everybody told me not to change everything, leave everything the same, you want your customers to keep supporting you. I said, ‘I’m not going to change anything, but I’m going to add stuff.’

You found out about LloydPans two years ago, correct?
At Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, I saw your booth and I stopped by and talked to you, and it was really exciting. I’ve been the owner of Seder’s Pizza for four years, so this was during my third year. Little by little I had been tweaking the dough. We have a wood fired oven, and the dough was the same recipe that had been used through a conveyor oven. It was a little heavy for a brick oven, but we started working with it. Then after I talked to LloydPans at the booth, I went to a couple of (World Pizza Champion) Tony Gemignani’s seminars, and he was all over LloydPans. He loved them. If Tony loved them, surely I needed to get some.

LloydPans: Which LloydPans did you add to your kitchen?
The grandma pizzas intrigued me, so we started there. Fitting our pizza doughs into a category is hard. We have a thin crust, which is close to a tavern-style, and we have a hand tossed, which is close to neapolitan-style. Customers asked for a deep dish-style, but as fast as we had to get the pizzas out, the deep dish didn't work, so the grandma fit perfectly. We ordered the LloydPans Grandma-Style Pans, and we really fell in love with them.

Being based in Michigan, I bet you get a lot of Detroit-style inquiries, too.
We get a lot of customers from the Detroit area, so they’re used to Detroit-style and Chicago deep dish. But we have to be different. So did a Grandma-style pizza, and it’s gone over really well.

What’s the technical difference maker now that you have LloydPans in your kitchen?
I sound like a commercial. I love these pans. There is nothing wrong with these pans. They are the epitome of what a chef wants in a pan. We’re hoping to integrate other ones beyond grandma, because I’m a person who gets bored with things, so I want to get more LloydPans and try other techniques. These pans have held up; we have a brick propane oven and a brick wood fired oven, and it doesn’t matter where I throw these pans. They're so versatile; they’re holding up, and there’s not a scratch on them. The finish is great; the pizzas slide right out. I can’t say enough about them.

How are you preparing for the busy summer months ahead?
We are very tourist-dependent up here. Memorial Day weekend starts our official tourist season for the summer. In the wintertime we have our snowmobilers who loved a more hearty pizza that filled them up and kept them on the sleds much longer. But, they weren’t over full; they were kept energized with the grandma pizza. We also make cakes in our grandma pans — a lot of cassata cakes, a lot of cakewiches, which are two-layer cakes filled with yummy frosting or mousse.

We have Taco Tuesday the first of every month. We throw mushrooms, onions and peppers in the pans and toss them in the oven, which brings out the sweetness of those and then we’ll add the meat. When I took over Seder’s Pizza, I challenged the staff to come up with their own signature pizza. The top two are put on the menu and see what the customers think. One is a Dilly-isha pizza with pickles. It’s really fun because no one expects pickles on pizza. We also have the Boom Boom Pizza, with a spicy thousand island sauce, pesto marinara or olive oil sauce choice. Then it’s topped with sausage, black olive and mushroom.

You competed in the Italian Sandwich Competition this year at Pizza Expo. How did you decide what to make?
I’m very competitive, and when I went to Pizza Expo last year, I thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to just see what others were doing and to gather ideas. Then I got the competitive bug, and I am the queen of sandwiches. We are constantly changing our sandwich menu here — almost weekly we’ll come up with a new sandwich to try. For the sandwich competition we had a couple of sandwiches we had been playing around with here with tasting parties, so we went with it. I used LloydPans to bake the sandwich bread in the competition — they’re used for everything I need.

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