Before she met Jamie and started making pizza, Marie was in the movies. As a matter of fact, the two of them met on the set of a small independent American film being shot in the middle of the Moroccan desert. Marie was in the picture and Jamie was paying a visit to his friend, the director. Out there in the desert, their lives took off in a new and unexpected direction. It was straight out of a movie.
Though when you think about it, is there really all that much difference between a movie set and the Pink Flamingo kitchen? What you find in Pink’s pizzas is, after all, a talent for culinary mise-en-scène. The kind of talent that great artists possess and that imitators, try as they might, can’t quite copy. The rare gift of making your public, your patrons, happy. The daring and defiance possessed by passionate artists who take a fresh creative approach to their work every day.
And they needed plenty of daring and defiance not to be daunted by the outraged remarks of old-school Italian pizza buffs. In fact the controversy between Pink Flamingo’s staunch supporters and die-hard detractors isn’t likely to die down anytime soon. But it’s always refreshing to see renegade artists at work. Especially when they happen to be just plain dreamers.
Like Marie & Jamie, who had a dream. A dream of pink flamingos. Of balloons and bicycles. Of pizzas of every color and just about every flavor topping – even marshmallows! They had to believe that yes, they could. For my part, I didn’t believe it when I first heard it. I’d seen so many abortive dreams, so many movies that never found an audience, that it was hard not to doubt the prospects for such an unusual, free-spirited concept.
And yet, only a few months later, in August 2004, lo and behold: the Pink Flamingo opened up on the rue Bichat, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Canal Saint-Martin. The previous occupant was a sock store with the pretty name “Mille-pattes”, i.e. “Millipede”. And the premises were still very colorful – so this must have been a great spot already.
That was before they had a dining room, let alone delivery guys. It was just a counter, three stools and rock music. Oh, yes, and some cooking gear: a pizza oven, to be more precise. The firm was styled “Roots”. And that’s exactly what it was.
Now you can eat there, take away or have your pizzas delivered. Deliveries are by bike – which is best for everyone’s health. And makes for muscular deliverymen, which Marie really likes to see. Or by foot if you’re picnicking on the banks of the canal: you come up and order your pizzas, they give you this ginormous helium-filled pink balloon and after you’ve comfortably ensconced yourself by the water, they home in on the balloon and bring you your hot savory fare. The canal’s a nice place to eat, by the way – and if you don’t like the crust you can feed it to the ducks.
But all that wouldn’t have amounted to much were it not for Jamie’s culinary talents and tenacity. Then again, those talents didn’t fall from the sky. Jamie learned about good cooking everywhere he went and from everyone he met, keeping his mind and palate open and keenly attentive to ever-new and eclectic eating experiences ranging from the choice kitchens of Locke-Ober in Boston, Jerry’s trendy diner and Cafe Luxembourg in Manhattan to the Mexican cantinas of Los Angeles.
A few years and three restaurants later, Jamie set up his food lab in the heart of the Marché d’Aligre, a vital daily source of fresh organic produce. In this new venue, Jamie has reinvented the pizza. Every morning he has the toppings for each pizza simmered and marinated, then delivered to the Pink Flamingos of Paris. Marie’s realm is company headquarters on the 1st floor, where she handles everything that goes on outside the kitchen. They keep an eye on everything and still get hands-on involved at every level of running every one of their restaurants.
Each week they get franchising requests from all over the world. From preposterous propositions to enticing offers. The letters are always flattering. Yet they don’t pick partners based on money or friendship, but based on sensibility – on whether the feeling’s right, quite simply. The franchisees they select are a select few indeed.
To stick to our movie metaphor, Jamie’s art is that of casting and editing. Marie does the directing. As for the script, well I don’t think they really have one. Everything seems to emanate from an ultra-controlled form of improvisation. A hard discipline to master, but when it works this well, it’s magic.
Magic . . . and love.
For we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that this is above all a love story. And now the story of a family. Pretty Italian when you get down to it: they didn’t just make restaurants, they made kids, too. As new Pink Flamingos were being born abroad, their family was growing in Paris. First Tom, then Clyde and, last but definitely not least, Pearline. For them, the Pink Flamingo is first and foremost about these five people. And friends. And patrons. Patrons who become friends. Patrons who become friends who become franchisees. And of course friends who remain friends. Jamie and Marie have mastered the art of blurring the dividing lines, and it’s not just for show. Go to the Pink Flamingo and try to figure out who’s who: good luck! But don’t worry about it if you can’t: the sheer gourmet pleasure of dining there will be more than sufficient consolation.
So this is how a small independent film became a series, the sort of successful contemporary series that is the envy of the movie industry. A series in which Marie & Jamie run the show, uncompromisingly, selectively. Naturally, any self-respecting series has its guest stars, too, as in the episodes in which singer Herman Dune gets the Pink to come up with a vegan version of a pizza, or street artist Space Invader invades the Pink at Aligre.
Jamie and Marie created Pink Flamingo Pizza en 2003 . But since last summer, they left to explore the possibility of the far west !
And now their great friends : Nathalie, Thierry, Juliette et Thierry have taking the reins of this amazing adventure…
Pink Flamingo is Gourmet creative pizzas , a unique concept , pioneers of delivery by bike for 10 years , an independent and cool spirit, irreverent but serious.So I guess you’re next . . .