In September we completed the vans make over. We liked the original red but in real life the old girl was looking a little tired so she got a fresh coat of paint and is looking fresh, shiny and ready to impress the Australian masses. Towability also completed the kitchen. The oven, boiler, sinks, fridges, stainless steel counters, dough trays, gastro trays, stereo, lights are all in and all just in time to get her shipped to Australia…
So we have the van and the oven but we thought it was about time we learnt how to make some really good pizza .At the start of September we packed our bags and set off for Italy to embark on a 5 day pizza course. We flew in to Naples then took a bus down toSorrento which is situated on the beautifulAmalfi Coast.
The course was run through ‘Mami Camilla’ cooking school who conveniently also ran a b’n’b, so we stayed with them too. Our teacher was a big Italian guy calledBiagio (we called him chef) with a deep voice and the biggest hands in Italy. Each day we arrived and there were bowls of the freshest ingredients we’d ever seen. Beautifully rosie SanMarzano tomatoes, piles of freshly picked vegetables, packet upon packet of creamy, tangy mozzarella and layers of delicious dry cured meats. We spent our days nibbling,kneading, rolling, drizzling, scattering, frying, chopping and flat out eating. Without fail at every lunch time chefs family members and friends would walk through the doors and help us devour all the pizza we’d made. We were surrounded by people who loved food and simple, fresh ingredients - we felt inspired and very happy.
We learnt that pizza, is in some ways very simple. You make the dough, you rest the dough, you put the toppings on, you cook the pizza and actually there’s only so much you can be taught, from there it’s just practice. But to really understand the dough, to be able to tell from touch if it needs a little more water or to rest a little longer only comes with experience. There is no exact science, every day is different, even the weather can affect your dough!
We ate a lot and learnt a lot and feel we have a strong basis to go forward with on our pizza making journey. The pizzas we learnt to makeare not fancy just fresh and we plan to take this ethos forward with us as Pizza Wagon.
In our free time we went to Pompeii, rode a scooter down theAmalfi coast, took a boat to Capri and ate the most delicious pasta, seafood, cheese andgelato. Mini blogs and photos of our pizza classes and all our free time will pop up on here so keep an eye out, but for now here are a few photos of us making some of our first pizzas!
Having bought the van and the oven we needed to find a company to turn our van in to a dream pizza making machine. We were recommended a company called ‘Towability’ who have lots of experience refurbishing Citroen H Vans as well as much bigger trailers and are currently working on vans for Mr Jamie Oliver. With the dream team of Towablity and Jay the pizza van guru we came up with these plans.
After getting ourselves a van next on our list was the oven. We went up to see a guy called Jay at Dingley Dell Enterprises. Jay is a chatty South African who started his own mobile pizza business and has now moved on to making wood fire pizza ovens. He wooed and impressed us very quickly and we had soon signed up to buy an oven. Not only did he make us an oven but he gave us heaps of advice about running a mobile pizza business. He makes the ovens out of wire mesh, expanded clay and refractory cements. Ours is 4ft long, 3ft wide and 2ft high and on a tear drop shaped base. It came with pizza peels, a coal hook, blow pipes, a fire basket and thermometer. We haven’t used any of it yet as we needed to keep it squeaky clean for Australian customs but we can’t wait to fire it up and get cooking in it once it gets here.
Here she is! Last spring we went to H Van world (less a world, more someone’s garden) and shortly after bought this little lovely. Nicknamed the ‘French Toaster’ H Vans were born out of World War II and produced by Citroen in France and Belgium up until 1981. Ours was produced in 1977, is left hand drive, has a long wheel base, hatch’s on both sides, a booming 58 horsepower engine, 3 speed transmission and was just what we were looking for! Since we bought it we’ve given it a bit of a makeover on the inside and out. This is it in it’s original form, it was a very exciting day.
In the photo below is me (Hannah) and Zak last February in a very chilly Prague. Two years before this photo was taken we met in another chilly town called Whistler in Canada. Since Whistler we’ve bounced around the world soaking up new sights, cultures and experiences. We’ve lived in Zak’s home town of Melbourne and we’ve spent the last 18 months living in my home, London. This is where Pizza Wagon was born.
On an unusually sunny day last October, Zak, my dad and i were sat outside a cafe in Muswell Hill in London and we got to talking about the boom of mobile food vans in London. My dad mentioned that when he was a youngster he’d seen a mobile pizza van in the South of France and he’d always dreamed of starting one up. Feeling inspired and full of ideas we went home and started writing a business plan. A little over a year later we are now back in Melbourne and in a couple of months we plan to be hitting the streets selling wood fired pizza from our gorgeous 1977 Citroen ‘H’ van. We’ve decided to keep a blog to recap our journey so far and to share what ever ups and downs we have ahead of us. So here’s to a happy future filled with delicious pizza!