Back to Where it Started: A Pizza Story with JC Mendoza of Wildbreads
Take Me Back to Pizza
Having lived in the province for most of his early life, it was JC’s rare trips to Manila that exposed him to food — and it was a place called Napoli Pizzeria in Tomas Morato that ignited his interest in making pizza; inspired to cultivate a desire to make something his own, “I just started watching youtube videos like any other person,” he recalls. “Making the most of what every media channel had to offer and watching ‘how to make Neapolitan Pizza’ videos.” From watching videos online, JC also started earning his own money which allowed him to buy his own ingredients.
“It was around 2013 where I started making pizzas regularly,” he said. “Nothing too audacious, just your simple tomato, cheese, and basil combo.” It was JC’s humble beginnings that really changed his perspective on making food and following tradition, for JC, it didn’t matter what type of pizza he made — whether it was traditional or out of the box — just as long as people liked it. “I didn’t want to be a pizza snob or I did not want to put labels on my pizzas, I wanted it to be inclusive but at the same time I just wanted it to be my own.”
JC eventually started his own bakery called Wildbreads with his wife Nicole in 2018, offering artisanal sourdough breads and pizzas. At the time, JC was still using brick and traditional ovens to make his pizzas. “When I started hearing about the Ooni ovens, I immediately kept messaging my sister, who at the time lived abroad, to buy one and take it back here. But then she messaged me back telling me that someone had already brought it to the Philippines… that’s when I found Oven Depot.” Having purchased an Ooni Oven, JC started experimenting and making more pizzas — bringing the indoor experience of his home-bakery setup outdoors.
“Ooni helped us bring what we do inside our workshop to just about anywhere,” he explains. “It helped us setup shop in various places, from the Sunday Markets to Local partners.” It was JC’s love for experimenting with fermentation and making pizzas that enabled him to connect with a local brewery owner who, coincidentally, had plans to set up an outdoor space with an outdoor brick oven. “It was quite timely to be honest, but also not expected. But being able to partner with like-minded individuals was a great opportunity for us.” This connection enabled Wildbreads to help their partner and vice-versa. Bringing their Ooni Ovens with them outdoors also helped them connect with more customers.
From Traditional to Intentional
"I wanted to be intentional with the way we approached things," JC explains. "I wanted it to be inclusive and I wanted to focus on those who actually cared about what we were doing at Wildbreads.” And it is in this that JC found a sense of purpose in his art.
The meaning of intentionality is to stand for things wholeheartedly. “I never had profit in mind when I started doing this, because I wanted to do things methodically and with intention. But most of all, it had to make sense for me so that it would make sense for others.”
Their online presence, tone of voice, and brand appeals to all, and for the first time, concepts like sourdough experimentation peels away from the esoteric conversation and becomes part of a much broader audience. Making Pizza becomes accessible and is able to connect more people through a shared interest or even a shared slice. Wildbreads became more than just selling a product, in 2 years, it turned into a bakery that really cared about what they sold and who they sold it to; educating the one or two people that take the time to understand, and encouraging more to take part of this important gastronomic ecosystem.
JC continues to be a loving husband, father, baker, pizzaiolo, and sourdough connoisseur, this is his Ooni story.
Listen to JC geek out about Greenland Sharks, sourdough bread, and all things fermentation in his podcast: https://tinyurl.com/cj7wh66s
Check Wildbreads out:
Wildbreads Store: https://tinyurl.com/4uw468ke