LOGAN SQUARE — In the midst of unrest last year after police killed George Floyd, John Carruthers decided to turn his obsession with pizza into a vehicle for change.
In between working his day job as communications manager for Revolution Brewing, Carruthers started slinging homemade tavern-style pizzas on Instagram under the moniker Crust Fund Pizza, with all proceeds benefiting local social justice nonprofits.
“My first thought was, ‘I’ve been locked in the house for the entire year, and the only thing I know how to do is make pizza,'” he said. “It’s like, ‘Well, how can you help with pizza?’ You don’t cop out and do nothing because you think you can’t do everything. This is a way to help contribute.”
Crust Fund Pizza was a hit. Now, the pizza-obsessed go-getter is at it again with “Pizza For Everyone,” a spiral-bound book of recipes and essays from local foodies that dropped last week.
Like with Crust Fund, all proceeds from “Pizza For Everyone” benefit local nonprofits. Carruthers set it up so buyers donate on their own and then send him a screenshot for proof. The minimum donation is $35. Orders can be made online.
The nearly 200-page book is filled with pizza musings and a slew of pizza and pizza-adjacent recipes — for everything from smoke pan pizza to pizza puffs — from an all-star lineup of chefs, food writers and foodies. Among the contributors are Derrick Tung of Paulie Gee’s, Doug Sohn from Hot Doug’s, food writers Kate Bernot and Nick Kindelsperger, public radio personality Peter Sagal, and former “Hungry Hound” host and producer Steve Dolinsky. The book was designed by Zach Sherwood.
A native of McHenry, Carruthers said he was inspired by church cookbooks of his childhood.
“My family — they used to put together these … real cheap cookbooks for family reunions every year. These are the things of things I would pick up at a garage sale or a yard sale,” he said. “This is a dying format; everything’s digital now. I thought it’d be really cool to go super-duper analog and put together Chicago’s pizza community’s version of a church cookbook.”
Carruthers funded the first run of 300 books with his own money and ad sales, but he’s hoping to get help for the second run. He launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish the next round of books, and he is gearing up to hit the printer again soon.
Since launching July 6, the book has raised more than $7,000 for local organizations, including My Block, My Hood, My City and Community Kitchen. (Disclaimer: Block Club Chicago is one of the organizations chosen for the project.)
“It’s frankly a sh—y world, but watching people come together for a cause — that lifts it a little bit,” Carruthers said.
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