We had the good fortune of connecting with Chase Burke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chase, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
When it comes to the pizza game, I think there are many things that outsiders are unaware of. The one that stands out the most to me is how difficult of a lifestyle it can be. Unfortunately, it’s not as glamorous as social media makes it seem these days. Take out the fun Instagram pictures and the occasional compliment to the chef, and what are you left with? Few days off. Early mornings, late evenings, no holidays, little family time, grumpy customers on the reg. etc. (and believe me, I’m barely scratching the surface with the nonsense we deal with daily). After a while, it becomes harder and harder to keep your eye on the prize. You have to truly embrace and love what you’re doing if you want to make a career in this industry. If you’re not passionate about food and people, this might not be the job for you. If you don’t like hard work, this definitely isn’t the job for you. If you think you’re always right, this probably isn’t the job for you. Catching my drift? It’s not all fun and games. The harsh reality is that food never stops and neither can we. So next time you eat out, don’t forget to be kind to the staff. If you enjoy your experience, be sure to mention it to someone (server, manager, hostess etc). We thrive on compliments, friendly smiles and tips.
What should our readers know about your business?
There are a lot of things that set us apart from the rest. For starters, we believe there is no such thing as a perfect pizza. Every single day, we strive to make our pizza better than the day before. We will never change this mentality because we never intend to stop learning or growing.
What excites me the most about CAL-Italia is the limitless opportunities. We are just getting started and are busier than we ever thought possible. We are already talking about adding new mobile ovens to our operation. We’re also excited to announce that we have started discussing plans for a possible brick and mortar location. This will take some time, but we are definitely working on it.
Getting to this point business wise has not been easy. It has been a culmination of hard work and life experience over the past 31 years. I started busing tables when I was 16 and haven’t left the industry since then. I’ve worked at countless restaurants in every position imaginable. I educated myself. I traveled around the world to better understand food, culture and business. To fully embrace new ideas, I decided to go to culinary school in Italy (Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners). I’ve built lasting relationships with people who can help me better understand this crazy industry. I spent a month working as an apprentice in an award winning pizzeria (Best Pizza in Williamsburg) just to pick up new techniques. I think the most important thing is the drive to further educate myself. I don’t want to just make one good style of pizza. I want to know how to make them all.
To be totally honest, I don’t feel like I have overcome the challenges of owning a business yet because I still struggle regularly. Every day presents a new challenge and every day we find a way to keep trekking on.
The most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is that nothing comes easy. Stay humble. Work hard. Be good to yourself and others. Hopefully one day life will reward you for it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a tough question! San Diego is an exciting place these days. I would probably pack our time full of as many restaurants and breweries as possible. We’re beyond fortunate to live in the modern day beer capital, so why not take advantage of that? Our week would probably look something like the following, in no specific order. A night out brewery hopping is probably a good place to start. There is no shortage of quality food trucks at these venues, so no need to worry about where we’re headed for dinner (CAL-Italia, perhaps?).
If we’re lucky, the padres will be in town and we can catch a day game. America’s #1 ballpark never disappoints. They have done a great job incorporating local eats and drinks. The stadium truly provides a taste of San Diego.
A trip downtown is a must. I recommend Little Italy. It’s full of authentic restaurants and bars that won’t steer you wrong. If you’ve never been, check out Barbusa! Be sure to give yourself extra time for parking!
A day in Encinitas is definitely on the docket. Moonlight beach and the 101 will keep you busy for the day. The 101 in Encinitas is packed with cool cafes and boutique stores. Check out the Biergarten or Modern Times Brewpub if you’re looking for a place to start.
The same can be said for Carlsbad Village Drive area. Stop in at any of the bars or restaurants for a cocktail before finishing up with dinner at Jeune et Jolie (well known in the area for their Michelin star).
If you haven’t figured it out yet, my entertainment revolves around food and drinks! If you’re looking for something different, head to the Zoo, it’s world famous!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This one is easy for me. I have to “Shoutout” my immediate family. Each and every day, these people have my back. They have encouraged me to follow my own path no matter how different it may have been. They have supported me through the thick and the thin. They have taught me how to operate outside my comfort zone. They’ve pushed me without pushing too hard. Plain and simple, these people just know me and they truly want the best for me. If there’s one thing I can count on in life, it’s them. No matter what, I know they’ll always be there for me. That feeling of support fuels me and is the main reason I’ve been able to make it this far.
Yelp: CAL-Italia Wood Fired Pizza