|N_K_D Pizza is the first and so far only international store for the original Naked Pizza |
which came to life in New Orleans, USA.
"Naked Pizza is about meeting half-way. It is about approaching life as Naturally as possible. It is about bringing the healthiest possible equation to fast food. It is allowing you to enjoy a take out without worrying about the nature of the ingredients, the health issues or even compromising your lifestyle." - Ian Ohan, CEO N_K_D Pizza Dubai
Growing up, we had a tradition at my parent's that every Saturday, we gather up for a 'movie afternoon'. It was the most fun thing ever. Myself, brothers and sisters along with Mum and Dad would choose a movie to watch together and order pizza for nibbles while watching. You see, my parents were never big on the fast food option for lunch, and they always made sure we ate healthy home-cooked meals, which eventually became my definition of a home. However, my parents have always been advocates for moderation. They believed that we must be moderate people who do not over indulge in any theory. So on the weekend we got to consume some fast food. In Jordan, there is this amazing pizza joint called 'Pizza Reef" who make these fabulous grilled pizzas over a charcoal oven. Their pizzas used local produce for ingredients, were thin crusted, and you got to choose any combination of flavours you liked. It was very avant garde for the Jordanian market, because back then whoever heard of a healthy pizza?! Health though was not the reason why this pizza was and still remains one of the best loved in Amman. These open pies of goodness are supremely delicious, and without the greasy yuckiness of the other fast food pizzas. So on our movie afternoons we would pick up our pizzas and sit for a nibble and a good movie.
|A pizza take out without the greasy yuckiness is now available in Dubai |
under the name of N_K_D Pizza
I still keep this tradition alive with my children, where we have a movie afternoon on one of the weekend days. Usually, I or Firas would make the pizzas for movie nibbles. A while back, I went over to my sister's for a movie afternoon, and constantly watching what I eat, I told her: "What is a movie afternoon without a Pizza?" She said: "Oh no, we are having Pizza!" she then introduced me to N_K_D Pizza which had recently opened in Dubai. She said: "Don't tell me you haven't heard of Naked Pizza!... it is healthy, 1/2 the calories intake and super delicious!" I was very happy to learn that finally a fast food joint had decided to take a real look into what they offer. That a healthier take out was finally possible. Mostly that I could enjoy a pizza while watching a movie even if I was not in the mood to make one that day :)) N_K_D Pizza had become a constant take out option, when looking for one. The pizza is gorgeously delicious, and you get many options to help you create the perfect pizza flavour for you.
|You can choose any combination of flavours and any type of toppers you fancy|
Curious me, combined with food lover me, with a pinch of human interest and a dash of admiration for beginnings together with a toss of a human story dished an: "I need to get to know these people, I want to find out more about them." Mainly because, I had found it to be hugely interesting that some people decided to change the face of the fast food industry, however small in steps - huge in impact. Because when we can start a conversation about the fast food industry, not from a pointing fingers perspective rather from "what can we do to fix it" perspective I find huge interest and admiration.
It never helps to critique, pin point the negatives, and to find a source to blame. On the other hand being engaged, and looking for creative solutions, and taking the first step on the right path is the way this world evolves, and the way solutions come about. We all love a take out, and we all like the convenience of fast food. Furthermore, we are all aware of the risks, the global health issues, and the nutritious value issues. The debate of whether to consume fast food or to steer clear from the evils of fast food had been on the table for ages. Neither did this debate stop people from consuming fast food, nor did it urge the fast food industry to become more responsible human beings who take well being into account. The only thing that came out of that debate was slogans, and new approaches to marketing and crisis management that we focused more on the "It" PR person, while shoving down more burgers and chips...
It is here therefore that I found refuge from the debate. I found individuals who are keen to start working on a solution for an over analysed situation with no hint of salvage. People who had taken it upon themselves to start a new conversation, one that discusses solutions, that offers options, and that is taking steps towards the ultimate goal. I found that beam of hope at Naked Pizza.
|The people behind Naked Pizza on their road trips|
To the right, Ian Ohan the man who brought it to Dubai
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ian Ohan, the CEO of N_K_D Pizza - Dubai, and had asked him to pick his brain about their food philosophy, how N_K_D pizza started, and what they are hoping to achieve. Ian is such an awesome guy, whose company is very light hearted and interesting and he is the man who brought the Naked Pizza to Dubai. Here are bits of that conversation we had...
What is a Naked Pizza?
Ian Explains that Naked means Natural. He says that a Naked Pizza is a pizza made from all natural ingredients, whole foods that not only taste good, but is actually good for you. He describes their famous 10- grain- crust as:
"Our crust is made from an Ancestral Blend® of ten grains plus prebiotic agave fiber and probiotics, which are healthful bacteria like the ones found in yogurt and which promote balance and healthy digestion."
I told him that besides the flavour, what I loved about their pizza is that you feel full after eating, but you do not feel overly and exhaustingly stuffed as is the case with most fast food. He explained to me why that is. He said:
"The grains we use include oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, teff, spelt, tapioca, and two kinds of wheat. This diversity of grains, fiber and probiotics are the main reason for that satisfied feeling you get after eating N_K_D Pizza; these special ingredients contribute a slow, sustained release of energy without the crash that comes from eating other single grain, highly processed pizzas."
|LIVNAKED .... A Philosophy of Lifestyle|
The beginnings ... The origins of Naked Pizza
I still lingered on the term Naked. I found it very interesting and catchy. The association between nakedness and being natural is a known thought. The application to food though was new. Ian explained that it is stripping the pizza out of all the fast food rubbish, from additives, to colourants, to sugars and all the rest of ingredients commonly used by the fast food industry. It is taking away all those bad qualities and leaving you instead with a naked, all natural pizza with goodness exactly the same as that which you make at home. I like that thought.
|How N_K_D was created|
I could not help but ask him, why N_K_D?
He said that when they decided to bring Naked Pizza to Dubai, they thought to be considerate to the culture into which they are introducing their product. They understood the cultural sensitivity and the type of misunderstanding this could cause, and they did not want to be offensive to a culture they highly respect. On the same note, they did not want to lose the essence of their brand, for as mentioned above, the 'naked' here reflects a philosophy, not a dress code. Naked is a concept upon which the whole brand is built. So while the partners sat and brain stormed names that would remain true to the concept and ideology behind the brand, they sketched a hangman kind of scene beginning with the letter 'N'. After several attempts it dawned on them that they can use twitter short-hand and decided on N_K_D.
I respect that, what a good gesture! You see, not only are Naked Pizza people responsible in what they pass on to you as food, but they are also responsible towards the community within which they exist. Responsibility shines everywhere when it is a philosophy or a school of thought that you truly live by, unlike that which is generated by the marketing machine, as labels and slogans to say in order to generate more clients - the tell them what they want to hear kind of approach instead of what you truly believe in!
|Jeff the Co-founder of Naked Pizza|
Naked Pizza lives in its founders as a lifestyle not just a choice of food. Through Livnaked they run Marathons, support causes, think health, and explore options of how to carry that natural living in different outlets. They even go on motor byke Road trips from NY to LA and when taking on a new partner that partner has to go on those road trips with them, where they all get to know each other better and see if the new partner shares the same values with them. How cool is that?
Coming to Dubai
Naked Pizza started in New Orleans and moved on to other parts in the US. N_K_D Pizza is the first and so far only outlet outside of the US. This is their first international store, and they are hoping to expand further into other cities in the world. When I asked about their choice to open up in Dubai, Ian explained: "Dubai is the crossroad of the world right now. It is the place where all cultures meet, where every one wants to be, and we love the entrepreneurial spirit in Dubai. We find it to be the best hub for expansion, and a starting point from which we continue to grow."
He then told me: "We have been very well received in Dubai. Our brand, our pizza and our community are thriving in Dubai and we love it here. What started as a small store back in New Orleans, has now grown into many stores both in the US and here. We could not be more happy and proud."
|The team making it happen in Dubai|
N_K_D Pizza - Dubai
Organic? Local Produce? Fresh produce?
Of course I had to ask Ian about the produce. I wanted to know if they used organic? if they supported local produce? If they make their ingredients fresh or if they were imported...etc
We had talked long about Organic Produce, but in short Naked Pizza do not focus on organic produce. Ian explains: "We are trying to focus on global health issues at the moment by tackling those like diabetes, obesity, and so on. Organic is not our priority, because it will mean a more expensive pizza, which not everyone can afford. We prefer a very healthy not-necessarily fully organic pizza that reaches more people, than an expensive organic pizza that only reaches a few. We have nothing against organic, but we are tackling the issues one at a time. We do have a good surprise up our sleeves to be revealed in time." I have to say I know what they have in store and I cannot be more excited about it. lol
Fresh & Local Produce
Naked Pizza support local produce whenever possible. Because N_K_D pizza is a fast food chain, most of their sauces are made back in the US and are imported to Dubai. In fact most of their ingredients are imported from the US.
This is where I would like to raise a request for N_K_D Pizza - as this also goes in line with their philosophy - I want to ask them to support the local market by ensuring to buy local produce above all else. Whenever using ingredients that are not available locally, then the choice is theirs as to which to go for. But in a pizza a lot of vegetables are used, and there is where you can support the local market, and these farmers who are working very hard to create sustainable local produce despite the harsh environmental conditions. I do have to say that their upcoming plan includes an effort on that side. But till then, the market is full of local products.
|I guess now it is safe to say: "GO Naked!"|
So when it comes to fast food, Naked Pizza won my heart, and I hope that this post will inspire all those out there in the fast food industry or attempting to get into the fast food industry to take note and listen to our needs at this day and age. We can have a burger, but let's find a way to make it healthier, wholesome, and with natural ingredients. Let's find a way to make it Naked!
Here are some links to relative recipes for you to try at home:
- Pizza Dough
- New York Inspired Grilled Pizzaz
- Pizza for dessert an assortment of recipes and a Zen Approach to food
Deep Meaningful Movies
Of Gods and Men
Where do we go from here (Lebanese with English Subtitles, a movie really worth watching )
Midnight In Paris
The Trip (including food in the story)
Well it is weekend, and no better time to start a movie and pizza family tradition :) Hope you have enjoyed this post, and that you will give NKD pizza a try. I am sure you will be happy you did. Do come back again soon for more, and do leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the movie selection :))
Love & be peaceful y'all...
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