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Q&A: Flat Earth Pizzas Founders Sarah Brading and Rich Baker



Q&A: Flat Earth Pizzas Founders Sarah Brading and Rich Baker

Artisan pizza created with the environment, local community and your health in mind. Flat Earth is dedicated to serving pizzas using sustainably sourced ingredients and creating minimal waste.

Supporting a community of independent, local suppliers through a series of collaborations, Sarah Brading and Rich Baker of Flat Earth Pizza are quietly changing the landscape of Italian food in East London.

We interview Sarah to find out more about the Flat Earth journey and how she and Rich have created pizza you don’t need to feel guilty about eating.

Artisan pizza from Flat Earth.
Artisan pizza from Flat Earth.

Who is behind Flat Earth Pizzas?

Flat Earth was created by myself and my partner Rich Baker. We’ve both worked in hospitality for all our professional lives within marketing and ops, respectively. Luckily between us, we seem to cover a lot of different skill sets. So, it feels like all of our experience has led us to this point. I still consult on other brands within London whilst Rich dedicates his whole time to Flat Earth.

Sarah Brading & Rich Baker of Flat Earth Pizzas.

Where did the idea for Flat Earth Pizzas come from?

The concept was born in our narrowboat kitchen through collecting ingredients of the day and putting them onto a dough made with exceptional flour. A kind of romanticism of making pizzas with the same intent as a rural Italian family would do in the days before Instagram! No fuss, decent ingredients to hand and recipes enriched with flavour from a stockpile of herbs, pickles and sauces stored in the larder from previous outings. 

Rich’s ability to intuitively find interesting flavour combinations and create unique meals is astounding. We always wanted to create something together. After coming up with many different ideas over the years, we landed on the idea of using high-quality dough as the palette and starting point. This allowed us to add colour and texture in the form of local, seasonal ingredients. We noticed a gap in the market for healthier options around pizzas, the global need for a reduction in meat consumption, and interesting toppings, moving away from the ubiquitous ham and mushroom type combos.

‘Provenance before price’ opens up the world of amazing people doing great things in food. E5 bakehouse grains, growing communities veg and Neal‘s Yard Dairy to name a few. Collaborations with artisan vegan cheesemakers and fermenters make it one interesting starting point for each month’s changing menu. 

Blackberry and Walnut pizza from Flat Earth.
Blackberry and Walnut pizza from Flat Earth.

What’s your mission statement?

We want to encourage a life of exploration. We seek to inspire by providing a platform for independent and local brewers, growers, picklers, cheesemakers, and foragers, working together to build a community that has depth, conscience, and longevity (and pizza!). 

We’re kind to the earth by taking food waste seriously and having transparency in what we do.

Founder, Sarah Brading

We use ingredients grown with integrity and produce sourced locally that are in tune with the seasons. We’re kind to the earth by taking food waste seriously and having transparency in what we do. The only impact we want to have on the earth is our legacy. We thrive on endless discovery: creating recipes inspired by traveling experiences and always seeking new combinations and flavour profiles.

Wild Room Mushrooms
Wild Room Mushrooms.

What’s a typical day at Flat Earth Pizzas?

The week is pretty varied for both of us. Because we change our menu monthly, as soon as one month’s menu is launched, Rich starts coming up with ideas for the next one. We talk about these and spend time in the kitchen testing and tasting. On a Thursday Rich will be in the kitchen all day prepping for the evening’s service. We’re only open Thursday- Saturday evenings so there’s a lot to do on that first day. I’ll help in the afternoon with anything that needs to be done.

Rich is solely focused on Flat Earth. So he generally looks after the accounts and everything on the food side whilst I’ll be covering all marketing aspects such as social media, branding, PR, menus, etc. We’ll both always be looking at new collaborative partners who fit our ethos and exploring ways to evolve the brand. Our only day off is Sunday so we’ll be seeing friends and family or enjoying London’s treasures, like Columbia Road. 

The exterior of Flat Earth at The Hive in East London.
The exterior of Flat Earth at The Hive in East London.

What’s the best thing to order from Flat Earth Pizzas?

Our dough is really distinguished. Everyone comments on it due to it feeling healthier as it’s less refined and processed than some others you might find at a pizza place. We mix two types of heritage grain, organic flours to make a soft dough that holds the toppings well and even tastes great the next morning!

Our menu changes monthly so we’re in touch with the seasons. However, we’ll always have our version of a Margherita with an organic tomato passata, Neal’s Yard Dairy cheese, and cherry tomato bombs that have been fermenting in a garlic brine. We have a selection of house pickles and dips on the menu. These are popular and allow us to use up the tops and tails of the veg that we use on our pizzas, resulting in minimal food waste. Our garlic bread with cheese is a pillowy circle of comfort that is hugely popular.

We also have a killer salted chocolate brownie that we buy from a local baker in Hackney. It also happens to be both vegan and gluten-free. We heat it in the oven and serve it with our dairy-free lemon posset.

Are there any exciting plans from Flat Earth Pizzas?

In November, we’ve introduced a Syrian-inspired pizza and donate £1 per every one sold to #CookForSYRIA. This limited-edition pizza is made with our signature dough, created using a mix of Gilchester’s and E5 Bakehouse’s organic, heritage grain flour, slow-proved and unprocessed, resulting in a distinguished base full of goodness. Topped with a radish pesto, British za’atar halloumi, fermented cherry tomato bombs, house slaw, a pickled chilli and radish garnish, drizzled with beetroot hummus, this pizza has the feel of a deconstructed kebab made with quality ingredients.

Our immediate future is all about a greater understanding of what we are building here and developing the parts which make us happy whilst ensuring Flat Earth can make a statement in today’s market. Practical stuff including recipe testing, gaining consistency and engaging with as many people as possible along the way are all crucial to us. 

We’ve got our residency at The Hive until the end of the year. We’ll see about either the potential to extend or we’ll look to find a new semi-permanent home for Flat Earth. It’s important that whoever we partner with takes as much care over their products and ingredients as we do. This is why The Hive works well. Their wine selection is all-natural and organic so there’s a lot of synergy in the integrity of our offerings. A microbrewery or taproom would also work well.

One day we’ll have our own place where Flat Earth can be it’s full iteration, injected fully with our personalities and offering more community-led events, home-grown veg, a specialised drinks menu including homemade fruit shrubs, and what we’ve always wanted to be: a platform for small independent producers who we can collaborate with to celebrate local businesses. 

At the dinner table of Flat Earth Pizzas. Photo Credit: Lewis McCarthy
At the dinner table of Flat Earth Pizzas.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?

We never wanted to build something that would create more harm than good. We are low waste – we ferment and pickle lots of vegs to preserve it for longer (as well as creating interesting flavours and enhancing gut health). Our pizzas are deliberately the perfect size for one person, so it doesn’t feel gluttonous to eat it all. Any leftovers that we do have to throw away gets picked up by ReFood – a company who turns food waste into fertiliser for use on local farms. 

We also have a strong charity stance in that we will always be giving some of our takings away, such as to Meanwhile Community Gardens in the first couple of months, Action Against Hunger’s #LoveFoodGiveFood campaign for Autumn, and Cook for Syria in November. To keep up to date with our journey, sign up to our newsletter.

Flat Earth Pizzas
The Hive, 286-290 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9DA
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