In times of strife, it’s always those that lead with love—and pizza, of course—that stand out. Nola Love Pizza, a New Orleans-based venture started by Larry Galper in March of 2020, does just that. But before getting into the real sustenance of the story, it’s important to note a bit of the backstory. Prior to moving to The Big Easy in 2019, Galper worked in Los Angeles for 14–15 years as a talent agent, engaging with actors, writers, directors, and all sorts of Hollywood creatives. In 2018, he gave it all up to go to culinary school, and went from wearing suits and hobnobbing with Hollywood elites to scrubbing floors and getting his butt kicked in the kitchen. “I was like the girl in Can’t Hardly Wait,” he laughs. “That’s what food was for me,” he explains about how the lead character doesn’t fall in love with the right girl (in this case food) until the third act.
But fast forward to 2019, and Galper had left the City of Angels and was working with London-born Chef Philip Whitmarsh at French Quarter-favorite, Jewel of the South. “Chef Philip Whitmarsh and Jewel of the South are one of the best kept secrets in the culinary world,” says Galper. Despite the incredible experience, at the onset of the pandemic, Galper, along with a multitude of talented people in the restaurant industry, found himself without a job. Instead of despairing, Galper began to make pizzas to raffle them off to friends. The idea quickly grew in popularity and by March 26th, early on in the pandemic, Galper began accepting donations to create and deliver pizzas to people in need. What began with donations to essential workers, expanded to families suffering from COVID, to anyone in the local community in need. The message, he says, is about spreading love. Case in point: the very first donation was from Chef Whitmarsh. The pizzas from that donation were delivered to Louisiana Fresh, a produce vendor who gave free product to everyone who lost their jobs—creating a circle of appreciation and love.
Today, Galper has made and delivered almost 4,000 pizzas and counting. “I want the new normal in food and dining to not just be about retail but about serving the community. I want to be the Bombas of pizza, the Toms of Pizza,” he adds. “I have seen other cooks in town doing their versions of what I am doing, as well as eateries giving meals out to families. If you can do it when the chips are down, you can certainly do it when things are good. I see Nola Love Pizza as translating to all cities love pizza.” As Nola Loves Pizza grew in popularity, a serendipitous encounter led to a pop-up event at Nola’s much-loved Slim Goodies Diner—the first event in a trajectory designed to create a brick-and-mortar company.
Galper, a self-professed one to not eat out for breakfast, was persuaded to join a friend of his at the diner one morning. “I fell in love with Slim Goodies Diner. The energy is incredible, the space is laden with an extra layer of love. Immediately to the right of when you walk in, is a chalkboard that states ‘Cookin’ With Love’. Polaroids of guests line the walls—they are pinching the same nerve I am trying to pinch.” From there, Galper expanded his deliveries even further to include family meals to people in the service industry, filling a large void for the staff and restaurant owners. Once he brought some pizzas to Slim Goodies, Deb, the diner’s owner, suggested a pop-up. As they were only open for breakfast and lunch, the Magazine Street restaurant decided to host a pop-up with Nola Love Pizza on October 16th. The event was such a success, every first Friday of the month will now be a Nola Love Pizza pop-up night.
But the kicker for True Residential? Slim Goodies Diner is outfitted with True Manufacturing fridges, True’s parent company and the commercial side of the business, and Galper is a fan! “I am going to be storing my dough in there each time,” he says. “Thank god for fridges that are made in that many sizes. Anyone that works with dough, and works in a climate like New Orleans, knows that humidity and dough are not friends. And even though Nola is not at its most humid right now, New Orleans is still the most humid place in the world! It’s very important for me to control the temperature and the dough in those fridges. I store my dough in all of the True fridges, and the low boys are stocked with my mise en place: cheese, veggies, etc.”
Nola Love Pizza is certainly living up to its message of spreading love (and pizza). We’re just happy our fridges contributed to his efforts. To donate, please click here. Every $10 feeds two very deserving New Orleanians.