If you’re going to be peddling pizza round town in a van, you’re going to want to do it in one that is bespoke to you and truly one-of-a-kind! Probably wouldn’t do it any harm to be an American Chevy Step-Van that effortlessly stands out from the crowd either.
Adam’s van is the culmination of everything he wanted as a child and indicative of his dedication to doing what makes him happy. It’s pizza done his way, in a van built his way. Winner of the Best Looking Award 2022 at the British Street Food Awards his van knows how to make an impression, but it’s not just the van, the guy inside slinging the pizza is pretty impressive too. Adam’s journey with pizza began when he decided he wanted to do something new and what happened next is nothing short of remarkable. With a considerable following on Instagram, a partnership with Gozney and people travelling the world to get a slice of his pizza, suffice it to say Adam and Peddling Pizza have come a long way and know how to make an impression. In part one of this two part article, we sit down with Adam to talk about how it all began and the unexpected influence of childhood film favourites like Friday and Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
I watched the video that you did with Gozney and it starts with you saying that it all began with your love of fire as a kid. Naturally I have to ask, how did a love of fire lead to this?!
It’s a nice warming feeling and it’s nice to look at isn’t it! I find it soothing to be around but of course it’s not just about fire. I quit my delivery job when my little boy was nine months old and my wife, who is a trademark attorney, went back to work and I was kind of like ‘what am I going to do?’ I was a house dad doing full time childcare and I’d been delivery driver in my local area for about 14 years but I didn’t want to do that forever. It was not a job that I wanted to stay in but I didn’t stay at school so I don’t really have much of an education. I’ve always enjoyed cooking for my mates and family and it’s that age old thing of people saying ‘oh why don’t you get into that professionally,’ but to be honest I didn’t want to do it as a job in a restaurant for somebody else; especially since during my time as a delivery driver I was pretty much self-employed so it was up to me how much I earned and what I did and when I did it. I bought myself a Gozney Roccbox, I think it was literally the week that it launched on a crowdfunding site and I backed it and I was just anxiously waiting for it to arrive. When it finally arrived I actually had a little custom bike trailer for it. I got it from a couple of guys in London who were going to start doing pizza at local markets and things like that, so they spent ages building this trailer and then one of them sort of disappeared with his girlfriend and they never got going. I’d kind of figured out that I wanted to make pizza, I was really good at it and I really enjoyed the process of it and I wanted to get better and better. So then I had this idea of basically pedaling around, pulling a custom trailer with my own little pizza oven inside it and being able to set up anywhere. I got in touch with my local market St. Albans, which is quite a big charter market and spoke to the market manager and told him what I wanted to do and he was like ‘yeah man, we haven’t got a pizza guy come along.’ I mean this was almost seven years ago now; they gave me a shot.
So I put my little kid in nursery every Wednesday and went to the market to sell pizza. It was a day doing something that I enjoyed, it was a hobby and I didn’t even care if I made any money it was just something to give me a day of my own. I registered with you guys which helped to make things simple and I basically started selling pizza, really enjoyed it, had one little oven and the queue started getting longer and bigger. I started creating content on my Instagram and then I got a phone call from Tom Gozney, the guy who runs Gozney ovens, he designs it and everything, and he said ‘I like what you’re doing would you be interested in coming down to HQ and having a chat?’ I said yeah so I went there and took my Roccbox along and we shot a video, I made a pizza on camera and it went on to get half a million views on their YouTube channel. They were like ‘if there is anything that we can do to support you let us know.’ Then after a year of having the bike I decided to upgrade so I had a three-wheeler built and put another two Roccboxes in that. Then I became a Gozney ambassador, the only one they had at the time, so shooting more videos and content with them and then it’s kind of become a bit crazy I’ve become quite well known in the UK pizza scene! I had my custom Chevy Step-Van built almost two years ago now, it’s been on the road for about a year, I had it shipped from Alabama. It was the world’s first van to have the double Gozney dome ovens fitted to it and it won the British Street Food Awards ‘Best Looking’ award in 2022 as well.
I heard about that, congratulations!
Yeah that was pretty cool! I actually went down to the event, nobody else in that category was there and I went down and I won so it was definitely worth the journey. Had some beers, had some food, had some good times. It’s been a bit of a crazy ride. I still work with Gozney which is great and I’m doing my thing on Instagram, I’ve built that to 117,000 followers and I enjoy it, I enjoy making pizza and doing my thing.
When you were designing the look of the Peddling Pizza van how much was driven by aesthetic and how much by practicality? Or was the balance of both always important?
The reason I wanted that specific van is because when I was a youngster that van was in quite a few movies and I always loved the look of them. It’s an American Chevy Step-Van, it’s cool, it was in the film Friday with Ice Cube.
Oh my gosh it is! It’s the same one that Big Worm drives!
Yeah it’s Big Worm’s ice cream van! It was also in Honey I Shrunk the Kids and there’s one in the Super Mario Bros. it was their plumbing van in that movie. I remember those movies from when I was a youngster and I’ve always thought those vans were cool. 6-7 years ago everyone had a French Citroën H van, but if I’m being honest they don’t excite me, I think they look quite boring and they can be unreliable; they can’t even get up a hill! So I knew I really didn’t want a French van, I didn’t want to just fall in with the crowd and with me and the bike I was already doing something completely different to everyone else. Then when I had the Piaggio Ape, the three-wheeler, it was very much not a route many people went down. I was the first one to have Roccboxes in one of those vans and so I wanted to keep doing something different. I got in touch with a guy that actually ships vehicles and he deals in three-wheelers. We’d previously spoken about the Apes because I was getting parts off him and I knew that he had contacts in the States so I said to him ‘I want a Step-Van’ and he was like ‘yeah I’ll look into it.’ He had people searching and it got to a point where I asked him to grab it if he found one, because I knew I didn’t want to go to one of the normal food truck builders. I didn’t want to just get something that they were churning out for everyone else; something that looks the same but just has a different colour sign. A lot of builds can end up looking the same and I wanted it custom built around me and how I make pizza. A standard build fit-out wasn’t going to work for the way I work, so I asked them to ship the van [once they found one], I told them the heights and the lengths that I wanted it to be and they found one. They found this van and he said ‘you’re going to have to jump on this because these things sell very quickly, they’re very sought after.’ So yeah I jumped on it and it cost me an absolute fortune! It was right in the middle of covid so it was a killer, but I bought the van and we shipped it from Alabama to Wales, it took about 2-3 weeks to arrive. When it got to Wales I drove down there and spent the day standing in it, driving it, playing in it to kind of visualise the build. I took an oven with me and we set it up and went through everything then left them to it. It was completely bespoke to me.
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