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Thursday, 21 August 2014

5 Questions - Pizza Pilgrims

Shortlist Magazine is a free weekly men's lifestyle magazine packed with news and features including movies, music, fashion, gaming, mens grooming, food and drink, as well as hard hitting news articles. As I read through my copy of two weeks ago, I became engrossed in a story about two brothers who turned their backs on their regular jobs to become the Pizza Pilgrims.
James and Thom Elliot set up their street food business selling authentic Neapolitan pizza at the Berwick Steet Market in Soho from the back of their imported Piaggio Ape van. Following the success of their approach to street food, it wasn't long before the brothers had the keys to their first pizzeria, adding to the many great eating places in Soho by opening up shop on the corner of Dean Street and Carlisle Street.
The pizzeria keep things simple by offering freshly cooked sourdough pizzas, using the finest ingredients imported from Italy, for both eat-in and takeaway diners.
I loved the story of how two boys followed their dream and felt that their story was perfect for '5 Questions' so after a couple of tweets between myself and Thom, I had everything I needed to get to work.

Here's the Pizza Pilgrims story;

How did you get started?
The idea for Pizza Pilgrims was really born in the pub. We both worked "normal jobs" but really wanted to get into food. Myself and my brother were discussing our options over a pint one evening (maybe a few) and came up with the idea of street food as a good way to get into food without a budget. We quickly settled on pizza - just because no one seemed to be doing it in street food - and the rest just snowballed from there. The idea for the pilgrimage to Italy was born out of it being cheaper to collect the van from there, rather than have it delivered. It turned into an amazing voyage of discovery and the reason for the name of the business! We learned so much on that trip that we had no idea about before!

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Hmm - I really am not sure we are really qualified to be giving advice! But I do think in catering the most important thing is to stay positive at all times. You have to remember that people are really visiting you to have a good time - so you have got to be having a good time! Things will go wrong for sure - but positivity will get you through (most of the time!)
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
I really wouldn’t want to change that much (although maybe a Caribbean outpost could work out…). We just want to serve great pizzas, in fun places - and make sure everyone is enjoying the ride.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
I personally think a top Neapolitan Margherita is hard to beat. It is the definition of simplicity - and as a result really highlights the difference using quality ingredients makes. It is the measure of any pizzeria - so it is an important one to keep making, improving (and eating!)
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Easy. Bruce Springsteen.
I have a mild obsession (he is just the best live performer ever, but lets not get started). I feel like he is more of a burger man (just ask Burgers and Bruce - the blog) - but he had Italian heritage. I did see him perform in Naples last year - and he has family from there. I think it would need to be something homely and hearty for that reason - maybe a Aubergine Parmagiana!

James and Thom haven't rested on their laurels and over the last couple of years they have released their first book - Pizza Pilgrims : Recipes from the Backstreets of Italy, which shows you how to make the best pizza. The book focuses on the key ingredients and techniques that will make your pizza stand out from the crowd as well as showcasing other cherished Italian recipes from the brothers. You can buy your own copy of Pizza Pilgrims from Amazon.
As if they weren't busy enough, the boys have also managed to find time to produce their own branded liqueur, Sohocello. With the help of Chase Distillery, Pizza Pilgrims use the most fragrant Amalfi lemons to create their own take on the classic Italian digestivo.

The progression from street food to restauranteurs to distillers and writers has been moving at a crazy pace but there seems to be no stopping the busy brothers as they have recently opened their second pizzeria, this time in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street.
Myself and Nicola love the cool vibe in Kingly Court and we hope to return to London before the year when we will be sure to drop in on the Pizza Pilgrims to see what all the fuss is about.
Keep up to date with the Pizza Pilgrims on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can find out more about Sohocello on Facebook and Twitter.
Some photography supplied courtesy of Myles New.

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