When Adam decided that he wanted to do something new, it wasn’t long before he set his mind to pizza.
Whilst cooking for friends and family was always something he had enjoyed doing, he knew that he didn’t want to work in a restaurant for someone else. So, after 14 years as a delivery driver he decided to merge his love of pizza and love of driving into the wonder that is Peddling Pizza. In part one of our interview with Adam, we talked about a pretty important part of his business; the van. It seems only fitting then that in part two we talk about the other important part; the pizza!
Was pizza always something that you liked making and so you adapted the business around that, or was your focus more on what food would work best for this kind of business? It seems like it was pizza first, but has that always been the case?
Yeah it’s always been pizza, I’ve always loved pizza. Me and my wife used to order pizza but then I started making it in the home oven making a Jamie Oliver recipe that was awful but I thought was good back in the day. I actually quite like him though, he got me into cooking and I’ve got a ton of his books but pizza…he should definitely leave it alone. It was a pretty basic recipe that people can do at home and rises quickly, you can do the whole thing in two hours, which is not the way it should be done and I learned that quite early, especially once I started to research it. I realised that I really like Neapolitan pizza and that style of baking it hot and fast. Pizza has always been the thing that I found the most enjoyable, it’s constantly evolving and learning as well, I can’t ever make two pizzas in the same way and I like that. The consistency is there and you can get to a point where you can be consistent, but there are also inconsistencies in the consistency if you know what I mean. Like adding just a little bit more cheese or sauce makes such a difference to the final product. It’s all so organic, you’re playing with fire and high heat and you know one pizza will cook in 70 seconds but the next one in 75 because the oven is a bit cooler or it’s a bit hotter so it cooks in 65.
Amazing things can come from those inconsistencies can’t they and, just broadening it out to any kind of cuisine, so many great dishes have been bought about by accident or because someone didn’t have the right ingredient so they whack something else in and now that accident has created something new.
That’s the cool thing about it, it’s your blank canvas. My menu is normally five core pizzas and I rotate the sixth, so literally every week I put a new pizza on and it will be something that I made-up, something completely new or an old-classic that I might pimp slightly. People love that because they get to try something new. I’ve had a lot of people come back and say ‘I saw this pizza on Instagram and I had to come and get it.’ It’s a nice way of creating something new and it keeps it interesting for me as well, I don’t have to keep cooking the same thing again and again. I get to play and have some fun and if I customer asks me ‘can I have a bit of that on it’ I’m like ‘yeah sure,’ or I tell them something that will work really well with what they’ve just ordered like a bit of chilli oil or something.
That’s something that’s so amazing about the independent hospitality industry isn’t it. Obviously I could do that in Pizza Express, but it definitely feels like you’re being unnecessarily difficult in those kind of places.
Also they’ll charge you! ‘Oh you want some chilli oil? That’s an extra pound.’ I mean it’s a garnish, I’m not going to charge someone for putting a bit of chilli on their pizza. My customers, a lot of them have almost become friends. I know their names, they know me, we chat, we ask each other about stuff so we have those little moments which you get in street food and you don’t get being a chef. I like the banter and I like being in the van, I like being front-of-house, I like being there. That’s a big part of it as well, that’s what I enjoy.
I think you’ve just answered my next question for me then, but could you ever see yourself moving to a bricks and mortar premises?
No, I’m not interested in that at all and I know that for a lot of people that’s their goal, but for me it’s not. Mainly because I’m a bit of a control freak especially when it comes to pizza. No one ever actually handles the dough but me, if Peddling Pizza is serving it’s me doing the making and the baking. I’m the only one who makes the bakes in the van, I don’t employ anyone it’s just me. I might have someone occasionally help with front-of-house, slicing pizza or folding boxes, but that’s it. I think it would be an extremely hard thing for me to let go of and at some point [with bricks and mortar] you have to. I don’t like managing people, I can’t deal with other peoples drama especially in hospitality! I’ve got friends in the industry, because when you get into the industry you get to know a lot of people and we chat and help each other out here and there, and after speaking to a lot of them, it’s not necessarily as fun as it might seem. It’s very hard to keep the right people and pizza making is an extremely skilled thing and it can be hard to learn how to maintain a certain level of quality. So it’s not something I’m interested in basically, I enjoy being on the street and I’ll do this as long as I can.
That makes sense, people have different goals and I’ve spoken to a few members lately who have a similar mentality and have no desire to set up a bricks and mortar premises. I think something that really appeals to people about this industry is you can be your own boss and so if you don’t feel like opening up shop today you don’t have to, but that’s obviously harder with bricks and mortar.
Also if you’re employing people they need stable work, you can’t just suddenly go ‘oh I don’t fancy it today.’ You’re basically letting other people look after your name and you’ve got to make sure they’re the right people and that can be a lot; it’s everything I don’t need! I’ve got two small kids and this way I still get to spend quality time with them. This week I’m actually only working one day and that’s me done for the week. I’ll probably earn more tomorrow than I did in a whole week delivery driving and that’s doing something I really enjoy. I think sometimes people can make it sound quite easy and it isn’t that easy, but once you get going and you’re quite well seasoned, it can become more simple. It’s not just that one day trading though, I’ve been doing admin, emailing people, sending out invoices, editing and posting vids to social media, there are lots of other little things to do. I’ve been doing my prep today, sorting out the van, making my dough going to the shops and everything like that, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes.
Yeah you don’t just turn up on the day, decide then and there what you want to do and it just magically happens.
Yeah that would be amazing and it can seem like that sometimes when I just rock up in the van, open the hatch and be like ‘hi, here we go!’ But there was a lot involved in getting it to that point.
I think this speaks well to the notion of ‘enough,’ doesn’t it. Not in the sense of curbing ambitions or enthusiasm but recognising if something is purely for money.
People who say they aren’t doing things for the money…I mean they are, everyone likes to earn money. I’m doing it for fun because I wouldn’t do it otherwise, but it’s not purely that. Obviously I need to make a certain amount and live and pay bills! But there is a reason I don’t do it every single day because I would probably lose my love and my passion for it. Having a bricks and mortar premises with my name above it just doesn’t interest me. I love vehicles, I love vans; I drove vans for 14 years! That’s part of the reason that I love having a pizza van and when I thought about it way back when I started I literally thought ‘I’d love to have a pizza van.’ The picture that was in my head is what I have now and I’ve worked my arse off for it, it cost me so much money to get it but it’s a complete one off and it’s epic. It’s what I always wanted and I love it so I’m happy where I’m at.
You can read part one of our interview with Adam here.
Stay up to date with the adventures of Adam and Peddling Pizza here.