Unstoppable and inventive, Zaza loves three things: her dog, Pecorino, the bike she got for her birthday, and....PIZZA! Zaza loves pizza so much that she wants to eat it for every meal. She wants to be the World's Greatest Pizzaiola (that means "pizza maker" in Italian) and make The Perfect Pie.
You’ll learn her secrets as Zaza and Pecorino embark on a series of pizza-related adventures, experiments and art projects, all in the name of pizza.
Zaza conjures magic from the everyday things in life. Using her imagination and artistic skills, she focuses on innovating new possibilities with pizza. She doesn't just want sauce and cheese! She wants a pizza that sparkles, that flies, that exudes deliciousness from every pocket of steam. She wants pizzas that are blue, purple, yellow and yes, if pushed, even red. She plays with her food in ways that allow her to see magic in the simple act of cooking. Through her experiments, Zaza doesn't learn how to make the perfect pie—even better—she learns how every pie is perfect.
Why Do We Need a Pizza Primer Book?
It’s no secret that we’re facing an obesity epidemic. It's a challenge for children (of all ages) to eat healthfully. But there is hope to be found in things as simple as making meals and eating together. More and more research shows that children are more likely to eat what they grow. And the same is true for what they cook! Cooking is a great way for the young and young-at-heart to free their imaginations and bring magic into their kitchens...and lives!
Cooking is about practical application AND personal expression. Learning how to interpret the basics and even "bend" the rules to make something your own is a valuable lesson for kids to learn in the kitchen and take with them into the world.
I loved reading as a child, and I love how it can still transport us as adults. As a designer, culinary food voice, athlete and avid reader, Zaza's Perfect Pie combines my favorite things - adventure, cooking, and art!
Zaza is silly. She's creative. She's goofy. And she’s relentless. Anyone and everyone can see a bit of their best self in Zaza and wants her to succeed as we all hope to in our own seemingly impossible pursuits.
As I’ve traveled and taught classes from my mobile artisanal cooking school, I’ve seen both adults and children experiment with ingredients and cooking techniques, pushing themselves outside their comfort zones with pizza as the catalyst. By infusing fun and art into the cooking process, Zaza helps unleash a willingness to try new things and go from “yuck!” to “maybe yum…?” at the thought of beet, fennel and citrus pizza! The more I saw the transformative power of pizza, the more convinced I became that I needed to help Zaza reach more kids and their parents. This book is my contribution to families everywhere who want to ignite that imaginative fire in children and bring better meals to their table.
Adventure, Recipes and Activities, Oh My!
Zaza's Perfect Pie is a story book and work/cookbook in one, most suitable for children ages 6 - 11, when cooking is recommended as a fundamental basic life skill by many educational and parental guides. As a creative director for the food industry, I essentially tell stories with food, and I believe that every good meal has one. Zaza's story of determination and imagination invites participation, so that kids can act on that inspiration immediately in any number of ways:
- A 32-page narrative story of Zaza’s experiments and adventure - with lessons around determination, developing a growth mindset and willingness to experiment, and curiosity around food and what we eat
- Full-color mixed media illustrations that delight, intrigue and create a sense of possibility
- Coloring pages that support learning about ingredients, process and shapes
- Recipes for the basics (dough, sauce, etc.) and ways to expand your pizza library, all tried and tested from classes I’ve taught out of my mobile artisanal cooking school, and in collaboration with Colavita, King’s Cooking School, Publix Aprons Cooking Schools, Eataly and Perugina.
The Culinary Designer Behind the Curtain
As a young girl, I watched my mother make cakes, roasts, pastas and salads from scratch. And, while I licked my share of icing beaters, I also learned what it means to "sauté" or "cream” butter. I inherited a love for Italian cooking and finding pleasure in a simple meal from my mom, who now runs food tours in Italy. As a young adult, and now as an older one, I feel totally at home in the kitchen. I know how to cook, and I know what food should look like when it's cooked, what flavors pair well, and how to whip up just about anything. I don't always need recipes, and very often, I just make them up.
Zaza was born about three years ago while I was cooking up all kinds of pizza recipes for food clients. At the time, she showed up as a bit of an alter ego, letting me get creative with my pizza explorations. But then she developed form, and a small, furry dog to keep her company. Now, I see Zaza as a reflection of me as child, only better. In storybook form, she’s free to do wacky things that I never did as a child. And she's become an inspiration to me, even though I'm the one that created her!
At the time, I was also steeped in the world of triathlon and cycling. I became more and more interested in how using pizza as a canvas could be a way to make nutrition less intimidating and more accessible. My bike became a symbol of adventure and discovery. I rode it through Italy, France, many different American states and my own country roads on the east coast, finding farms and flavors to integrate into new recipes. It’s in this spirit that Zaza just hops on her bike, as anyone can do, to explore our own backyards or journeys further afield!
It's important to keep this childlike imagination alive. Even though I cook professionally, I keep it playful. Cooking should be about learning, experimenting and connecting with others. My hope is that Zaza's adventures will inspire kids (and adults!) to get into the kitchen, and her activities will help them build a library of cooking knowledge that they can build upon. While Zaza's Perfect Pie may focus on pizza, it's really about developing comfort with cooking fundamentals. I’ve found that people in my classes are always excited to take the basics with them whether they ever make their own dough again or not.
So, Where Will Our Dough Go?
I've been working on prototypes of the book for a few months, testing the story and illustrations with a variety of kids. I'm also re-testing the recipes for the 6 - 11 age group. And I'm continuing to build and test the Zaza video library. The book is being designed to be the first in a series of food-related adventures (think Zaza Goes to Italy or Zaza Goes to Chicago).
The exact specifications will evolve as I complete prototyping, but this edition will be a softcover book with approximately 32 pages of full-color illustrations and pages with activities. As a designer, I’ve worked to do pre-production and production on books for other people, so I’ll likely be working with printers from my network.
If funded, your Kickstarter contributions will go to support the following:
- completing the creation of the final art and layout of the book
- photography costs for the recipes
- ISBN numbers and registration fees
- pre-production of the files
- printing of the book
I hope that Zaza’s Perfect Pie will be the first in a series, where we can expand on recipes and lessons, across different parts of the world and using seasonal ingredients and more adventures. Additionally, as I continue to build the video library around recipes, I’m considering a Zaza web series or creating a cooking show for kids which mixes live action and animation. And, if all goes well, we may be planning a cooking and book tour to bring Zaza and some of her cooking classes to different parts of the United States. We’ll keep you posted in updates as the campaign progresses!
How Else Can you Support?
Financial contributions are great, but there are other ways you can support Zaza and Pecorino's quest for the perfect pie! Tell your friends and family. Tell your dog. Tell strangers. Help promote us on social media and share our campaign.
You can also visit our website for more information: zazasperfectpie.com
Risks and challenges
I have extensive experience in book layout, having worked as a professional graphic designer for many years. I have been intimately involved in the production, layout and print process, and I have worked with printers from pre-press to press checks onsite. I know how these things can go from best case to worst. Long. Drawn out. Fraught with peril...
...but not really, if you keep calm and carry on. And work with printers who have your back and share your vision.
I want to make this book - for YOU! I want you to have this book in all the glory of the full-color vision I have for it.
There may be delays in printing or shipping. But, it's just a book. A FANTASTIC BOOK, indeed, but just a book - one worth waiting for. So, overall, the risks are pretty low.
Consider that the risks to myself are more extreme. I will receive various eye-rolls and lectures on what I should be doing with my life from my well-meaning family. I'll also be spending a lot of time working on something that isn't paying me. But you - YOU GET A BOOK! A pretty cool one. So, the risks are meager and worth facing, like waiting for the perfect pizza pie to come out of the oven.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)