10 minutes with Origin Pizza

Nick Pearson set up Origin Pizza in 2019 after 15 years of cooking up some seriously lip-smacking wood fired pizzas in restaurants around the UK. We caught up with the owner and chef to get the story behind the brand… 

Why did you take the leap into starting your own business?

I started working in the pizza world when I was 17 (I’m 42 now!) and fell in love with making pizza from scratch and by hand. I loved that I could use my imagination to create some really interesting pizzas and I also really enjoyed learning how to master wood fired ovens (it’s not as easy as it looks). I’ve worked for many different pizzeria’s in Leeds, then about 10 years ago, I was introduced to a friend of a friend (funny how that always happens at the right time) who was starting out in the street food scene. I came on board with him and we catered for a variety of events, from weddings to large music festivals. When my wife and I decided to make a big life change and move from Leeds to Hay-on-Wye to be closer to family, it felt like the right time to take the leap and set-up our own pizza street food business (I had also just watched the film Chef, which really struck a chord with me and gave me the confidence boost to go for it! Thanks John Favreau!).

Tell us about the vibe you aspired to create at Origin?

Our style of street food is heavily influenced by the LA street food scene, from how we designed the truck to the way we operate as an alternative space from your traditional restaurants.

When we were setting up our brand and creating our truck we were inspired by the way some of the LA greats like Roy Choi had done it, and make it not only look cool and feel different, but also be accessible to everyone from both a price point and location (we live in a rural area so we’re proud to be able to bring our truck to small towns and villages).

We rock up with a cool truck, some good music, tasty pizza and great chat (customer banter is where it’s at, and we have a wide mix of customers, it’s how we like it – everyone is welcome!)

How did you find the first year of trading?

Origin Pizza came to life amid the tumultuous time of Covid. We started trading just as weddings and events were being postponed (you’d think we were mad to keep going but it was our dream and Covid wasn’t going to stop us!). We set up a socially distanced takeout for our local community from our back garden – this allowed us to establish our business within the area and get to know the people in Hay. We made some wonderful friends that started with takeout! Once restrictions were lifted we started doing some amazing events where we catered for everyone from tiddly aunts at weddings, to dancing partygoers at major festivals. We now have a great spot in the centre of Hay and multiple food trucks to let us do lots of different types of events.

How did you ensure your produce is the best on offer?

We support local businesses as much as possible by using local butchers, green grocers and farms in the area. For the more traditional Italian ingredients we have a number of great importers including A Di Maria who’ve supported us since we opened nearly 4 years ago. We taste test everything before it goes on the menu (obvs!) and check our suppliers to make sure they are aligned with our values.

What events are you most looking forward to this year?

We’re lucky that Hay on Wye hosts two great festivals each year – Hay Festival and How The Light Get In which brings thousands of people to our little book town, so this is always a highlight of our year as we get to meet lots of new customers. It’s a great atmosphere and Hay is buzzing with people from all over the world. 

Food festivals are our favourite thing to do, they’re full of foodies that want to try different things (we also get to see our fellow street food friends and stuff our faces). The ones we really look forward to are Hereford Indie, Abergavenny Food Festival and Ludlow Food Festival – get yourself a ticket!

Advice to someone looking to start up in the industry?

Do it! But go into this with your eyes open; it comes with hard work and perseverance (oh and also British weather, you need to be okay in the rain and have contingencies!).

Do your research, make sure you have a USP that allows you to stand out from the crowd, create a business plan for how you see your business growing in the next 5 years (you might be small now but it’s helpful to future proof), join NCASS (it’s an invaluable source of info and support for start-ups) and if you can, find a mentor that can help you with things like where to get your truck / suppliers / operational structures etc.

One advantage of street food is that in most cases you will be in the enviable position of being able to ‘move around’ to find new customers, and get your brand out there by attending festivals and events.

What do you love most about working in the independent hospitality industry?

Happy faces is by far the best thing about this job – when someone eats our pizza and they tell us how much they loved it, there isn’t a better feeling in the world.

Doing street food festivals and meeting other traders doing what we do is also great, we’re all in it together and we’ve made some lifelong friends from so many different warps of life (and tasted some seriously lip smacking food!)

Why join NCASS and how have you found the experience?

NCASS has been invaluable to us as a small start-up business; the support, information and templates you provide has allowed us to start as we mean to go on. The processes and training we’ve set up using NCASS formed the foundation of our business operations and supported our growth over the last 4 years.

Pineapple on pizza?

We have a hoisin duck pizza on our menu, so those who live in glass houses and all that. But we will say that pineapple might be a step too far…althooooough it could work on a dessert pizza, grilled, with whipped mascarpone and caramelised brown sugar with nutmeg…ok maybe watch this space!

What song best sums up your business?

Marvin Gaye’s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough!’ – because there isn’t! We’ve literally drifted sideways a ¼ mile across a muddy field in our Land Rover Defender food truck to get to an event!

What restaurants do you love to eat at in your spare time?

Oh my goodness how on earth do we just pick a few! Our friends run The Bookshop in Hereford, and Chapter’s in Hay-on-Wye are a must try if you’re in our neck of the woods. When we’re out and about we love Bao in Soho, Bundobust in Leeds and of course we can’t forget our fellow street food traders, check out Trigg Food and Beefy Boys.

Follow Origin Pizza

Website // Instagram // Facebook


Want our latest content?

Subscribe to our mailing list and get weekly insights, resources and articles for free

Get the emails