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N_K_D Pizza Launch in Dubai

January 31, 2011

Making a Naked Pizza

Being part of the Food Blogging community in Dubai means that you are sometimes invited to the various food happenings in town. Last Friday, January 28th we had the good fortune of attending the launch of Naked Pizza here in Dubai, or self censored, N_K_D Pizza. We were welcomed with great enthusiasm and energy by one of it’s co-founders,Jeff Leach. Jeff is a whirlwind of passion and enthusiasm for his company and his pizza. My first impression of the shop is that it’s fresh and modern with clean lines and a minimal amount of fuss. Very Now and very Happening. Jeff informed us that the N_K_D Pizza was developed with women in mind, from the decor right through to the ingredients. Nice!

N_K_D Pizza is about producing a healthier pizza. OK, so as someone married to an Italian, that got me a little perked up. Since when is a AUTHENTIC Italian pizza bad for you? I must stress here that there is a world of difference between a pizza from Pizza Hut and Co.  (which no self respecting Italian would touch with a ten foot pole) and an authentic, traditional, wood fired Italian pizza. More on that in a moment. N_K_D Pizza certainly is the complete epitome of successful american marketing. There are currently 400 stores under development in the USA and another 6 planned for Dubai by the end of 2011. If you are a betting person, you could probably do very well if you placed your bets on this company.

So what is it about N_K_D Pizza that makes it so special? Well firstly, Jeff was quick to point out that N_K_D Pizza is in fact a Social Media Company that just happens to sell pizza. Social media like Twitter and Face Book are being used by the company to communicate and educate people about the pizza ingredients. They are out to change the way people eat by making them aware of what they are putting into their bodies. N_K_D Pizza’s mission is to (and I quote from their brochure) “launch the world’s largest grassroots health movement”. They also promise to deliver it to your door, hot and in around 25 minutes. That’s pretty speedy! The pizzas are made in 120 seconds, then baked in a gas fired oven for 5 minutes and 15 seconds. Since opening, the average delivery time to your door is 25 minutes. That’s from the moment of ordering, either on-line or by phone to delivery. Impressive by any standards.

What else? The base is totally different from other pizzas. The base is made from an Ancestral Blend of 10 grains plus prebiotic agave fibre and probiotics. The main reason for the diversity of grains is to contribute to a slow release of energy, unlike the sugar spike one would get from eating highly processed pizza or any processed food for that matter. This makes N_K_D Pizza a great choice for people following low GI diets. The flour is imported from America and is the same flour they use in all their branches giving the base complete consistency.

What about the toppings? Their brochure tells us that they use all natural tomato sauce which has no added sugar or citric acid. Their mozzarella is 100% natural, rGBH-free. They use no additives, no butter and no hydrogenated oils. All good news for anyone concerned with their health and what they put into their bodies. Their brochure tells us that all their ingredients are 100% natural. Not 100% fresh. We bloggers sampled this first hand with a slice of mushroom pizza. The mushrooms were canned. Jeff went on to tell us that the reason for this was that fresh mushrooms are not at all that fresh and tend to have “funny things” growing all over them. I would like to make an assumption that the real reason that KP use canned mushrooms, artichokes and  olives is to maintain consistency. A pizza in their Dubai branch tastes the same as a pizza from any of their American branches.  They are doing a fantastic job on branding themselves as a healthy, fast food alternative to the other big names in Pizza. In his blog, LIVNΛKED, Jeff explains why they did not choose to go the organic route. His arguments are passionate and he certainly has very strong opinions on organic and GM foods. So do I and I do not agree with everything he says. Understandably, if you are running a fast food business model and you are competing against other fast food pizza joints, organic is not going to make economic sense, and that is the bottom line.

The thing that I like about this franchise is that they are trying to educate people about what they are eating. That’s good. What I also like about them is that they admit that the fast food industry has and continues to damage the health of millions of people. NP is about improving the health of their customers’ intestinal flora through the diversity of the grains and the addition of probiotics that are used in the crust of their pizzas. To quote Jeff from his blog “But most important of all, ours is a product and brand that is about starting a conversation. It’s an honest place on the landscape where we are trying hard to do the best job we possibly can.”

My verdict?

Let’s be clear on one thing. An authentic, Italian, wood fired pizza is not bad for you and not unhealthy. Pizza has got a bad rap because of the big fast food pizza companies ( and we all know who they are) pushing products that are high in saturated and hydrogenated fats. They are pushing a product that would never pass for a real pizza in Italy. An authentic base is made from bread flour (traditionally white, however nowadays you can have it “integrale” which means whole meal) and water. No fats or oils of any kind are added to the base. The ingredients for the toppings are fresh. Italians are sticklers for food quality. Please note also that even in Italy there are many non Italians now making pizza, which do not always conform to the traditional standard. The mozzarella would be a traditional mozzarella not that pre-grated stuff you buy in packets that has been cut with oil and had starch added. Of course the pizza is often finished off with a drizzle of virgin olive oil. Olive oil has many known health benefits and as long as you are not frying with it at high temperatures, it is delicious and healthy.

Would I order a pizza from N_K_D Pizza? Maybe. If my choices were Pizza Hut or N_K_D Pizza, I’ll go NAKED any day. However, if I had to choose between N_K_D Pizza and my favourite Italian Pizzeria in town ( I will be posting on this soon), where I get an authentic, thin, crisp wood fired Italian pizza with fresh toppings, then that will be my first choice. At the launch I tried both Margherita and Mushroom. Both were tasty and the tomato tasted really delicious. The canned mushrooms were not my favourite. With the first bite, you can immediately tell that there is something different going on. The crust was crispy and although a little different from the usual bases, was actually really more-ish.

N_K_D Pizza is being built on clever marketing, and I am sure will go from strength to strength. I for one will be very pleased to see people making healthier more informed food choices, including eating traditional (not fast food), Italian pizzas where the pizzaiolo is still king. It would be a very sad day indeed if Italian Pizzaioli were put out of business because of clever marketing from competitors.

Randy Crochet and Jeff Leach of Naked Pizza

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2012 4:22 PM

    Great and thorough review 🙂 My boyfriend and I were in Dubai last year but we didn’t try N_K_D Pizza though. All in all we really enjoyed our stay in Dubai there. It’s truly a great city to visit. We traveled with the Danish agency Atlantis Rejser and went on a few of their excursions.

    • October 18, 2012 6:44 PM

      Thanks for stopping by my blog! Wow you visited Dubai. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. It is a city that has much to offer tourists, especially if you like shopping:)

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