Pizza Camp: The latest stroke of genius from two Twin Cities nightlife ninjas

  • Article by: MICHAEL RIETMULDER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2014 - 3:35 PM

There’ll be lots of mozza at this weekend’s first-ever Pizza Camp at Baker Park Reserve.

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Pizza Camp organizers Chris Cloud, left, and Paige Guggemos worked on a couple of ’zas at Element Pizza in northeast Minneapolis.

Photo: Michael Rietmulder • Special to the Star Tribune,

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Paige Guggemos and Chris Cloud hovered over a pair of pies at Element Pizza in northeast Minneapolis. The scent of a spicy buffalo chicken pizza hung in the air as an easygoing Sunday conversation took a sudden, weighty turn.

Unlike swing-state politicians, the two were taking hard line stances on hot-button issues that have divided society for years.

Are Hawaiian pizzas legit? Totally. Taco pizzas? For sure.

“It’s like, ‘Whoa. It’s a taco and a pizza,’ ” Cloud propounded.

Dude.

OK, it’s not Israel-Palestine vexing, but it shows how seriously they take their tomato-sauced treats. So seriously that this weekend they have organized a pizza-themed overnight retreat — think summer camp for pepperoni-scarfing adults. Saturday’s first-ever Pizza Camp in Maple Plain will bring roughly 50 pizza lovers to the Baker Park Reserve’s rustic Near Wilderness Settlement for a day of pizza and pizza-related activities (i.e. “Capture the Pizza”) with a little archery, canoeing, rock climbing or nature photography mixed in.

“It’s definitely quirky and I think people who signed up are in for the experience,” Guggemos said.

The mozzarella bash traces back to last summer when Guggemos created the Facebook page Minneapolis Pizza Club.

“Pizza Club started as me eating pizza. It was kind of a joke, honestly,” the 27-year-old south Minneapolis artist admits.

But a party of one quickly turned into a monthly or semimonthly gathering of 20 to 40 crust crusaders for potluck feasts. The sold-out Pizza Camp is the group’s first public event. Campers will bunk in wooden cabins without electricity (so leave the Pizzazz oven at home) and can bring their own beer and wine (park rules prohibit the hard stuff). The $49 fee includes lodging, activities, three “pizza-centric meals” and a Pizza Camp 2014 T-shirt like the one from Camp Kitchi-whatever you wore in grade school. And don’t forget your slice-shaped nametag.

“Unlike those camps, nothing is mandatory at Pizza Camp,” said Cloud, 31. “There will be elements of that summer camp vibe, but we’re also grown adults and want to do our own thing.”

As a co-organizer of late-’90s/early-aughts dance night Forever Young, Cloud is no stranger to throwing nostalgic parties while Guggemos, a veteran slice slinger at Pizza Luce Uptown, knows the power of pizza. When she was a student at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she ran several clubs and free ’za was the best way to boost attendance.

“They weren’t coming for the clubs, they were coming for the pizza,” said Guggemos, who’s now involved with the Living Proof Print Collective. (If you bake them they will come?)

Even if the Ninja Turtles’ favorite fare is “the glue of the food pyramid” as Cloud suggests, isn’t it possible that with all the pie-tied antics in 24 hours that people could get burnt out — like a blackened crust — on pizza?

“We have your emergency contact number and we won’t hesitate to call them to bring you home if you overdose on pizza,” Guggemos joked.

Good call.

 

Michael Rietmulder writes about beer, cocktails and nightlife.

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