Five minutes with pizza guru Tom Gozney

Image of Tom Gozney sitting on a kicthen counter with one of his pizza ovens
Lucy Scott,-Senior Editor

John Lewis has recently started selling the dough-lightful Gozney pizza ovens just in time for summer.  To celebrate, we sat down with founder Tom Gozney to find out more.

Take us back to the start and what the inspiration was for Gozney?

My formative years as a teenager were colourful; I ventured into a world of partying and then couldn’t get out of it. I took myself to rehab for a year in South Africa and when I came out, I went on a journey to discover who I was and how to build value back into my life. I wanted to continue to enjoy community and socialising without being immersed in the British pub culture.

I threw myself into cooking and it became meditative to me - planning, prepping the food, sourcing the ingredients, cooking the dish and then serving it to my friends, my community.  It gave me escapism and I loved the smiles on my friends' faces when I served an epic feast. One evening I made dough for pizzas and all my friends rolled theirs and added their own toppings.  The sense of community was amazing but the pizzas were rubbish in the conventional oven! I decided to invest in a pizza oven but when I looked they were all thousands of pounds, so I decided to make my own. The next day I started digging the foundations to build myself a brick oven.

It was never a business idea at the time, it was a social vehicle for me, but I became infatuated with cooking with fire and how basic ingredients transformed into something magical. Things snowballed from there and now we sell on three continents, we’ve provided the ovens for Franco Manca and we’ve installed pizza ovens into really cool people’s houses, like Jay-Z, LeBron, Guy Ritchie and many more.

Image of a green Roccbox pizz oven on a garden table

How did you build the first oven?

I’ve always been a practical guy so I spent an hour on Google, then freestyled it and built my own. It was really ugly but it changed the way we socialised and in turn changed my life. Friends started asking me to build them a brick oven and when I was building the third or fourth I realised it was a business venture. I spent six months researching high heat materials and moulding processes before my mum gave me a £5k loan. £2k went on a fibreglass mould and £2k went on a website. That was the start of this journey.

What does a typical day look like for you? 

We’ve hired a new CEO to work alongside me but my days are still very varied. I’m immersed in the product team and I run a blue sky ideation department within the business where I come up with all our future ideas. I also review prototypes for future products, work with the marketing team on social and content strategies, host meetings with our key retailers and network with our influencers and brand partners. I do all the things I love. One of which is understanding our consumer, what makes them tick and how we can add benefit to their lives.

What has been your Gozney highlight?

There are lots of things I’m proud of for different reasons. Anything that benefits our employees makes me happy and shows how far we've come since the days of being a team of five. A big highlight was the launch of the Dome in 2019. We had a marketing budget of less than £20k and we generated £8 million in sales in the first five hours on the website. That was phenomenal. It was also slightly disastrous because we completely underestimated the amount of stock and the demand. Then the website broke - it was like trying to get Glastonbury tickets! We were a small company with a great narrative for telling stories and that day was such a moment for our business.

Image of a gas Gozney pizza oven with a family around it taking their pizza out

We’re hurtling towards summer. As a dad of three, what will your summer holiday plans be?

Well, we have a three month old so all our plans have been on hold while my wife Laura has been pregnant. But now the baby is here we’ll do some travelling. We’re going to New York for a board meeting and for our event series Proof Supper Club. We have a 100-seater banquet table and we serve amazing food all made in our ovens. This year we’re taking it to New York, LA, Melbourne, Sydney, Germany and London. So I’ll be travelling around going for dinner and am lucky enough to be taking my family with me.


Final question: do you still eat pizza?

Of course! I love pizza. I geek out and make a 96-hour proof dough, it’s airy and crispy and beautiful. Then I get imported Italian tomatoes and make a tomato base, drizzle incredible olive oil over it and add anchovies, garlic, oregano and that’s it. Golden.

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