On 16 March, James and Thom Elliot, the brothers behind Pizza Pilgrims, will be launching their first Pizza Academy & Pizzeria in the heart of Camden.
As well as their first north London pizzeria, the space will provide a haven for all things hospitality, designed to educate, nurture, inspire and celebrate talent setting them up for fulfilling, long-term careers in and out of the sector.
Pitching up in one of London’s most exciting boroughs, the venue will operate both as a fully functioning pizzeria, alongside a dedicated training academy - with both spaces able to be flexible in size to accommodate various setups. The two spaces exist symbiotically - each relying on the other for its success.
Operating entirely as a social enterprise, all profits from the Camden pizzeria will go back into funding the training academy at the back which is what makes this endeavour a truly unique innovation in the hospitality industry.
Pizza Pilgrims are on a mission to prove that working in hospitality can teach as much as some of the more spurious ‘academic’ courses out there, arming its students with the skills they need to make a living, rather than build up debt.
Aimed at the young, ex-homeless, ex-offenders or anyone that needs a fresh start, the Pizza Academy will provide a genuine qualification for its graduates to take home ideas for self-improvement and business theory - not just great pizza.
During the day, the academy space will be found at the back of the pizzeria, with two dedicated private training rooms, and a dedicated training kitchen space. Next to it will be a ‘pizza theatre’ for training larger groups of people on specific pizza skills and concepts. The pizzeria will then provide a live environment for graduates to put their new-found skills to the test.
As well as the more formal training courses, a programme of lectures from industry experts will also be held at the Pizza Academy, giving individuals an honest insight into the hospitality industry. Alongside this, weekend courses in a range of modules will be bookable for part-time students to attend, as well as one-off classes and activities too.
James and Thom have created the Academy to negate the existing perception that a role in the industry is often temporary, by furnishing young people with a broad range of skills to pursue a life-long career in the sector. With varying lengths of formal courses, students will get the opportunity to learn all aspects of the hospitality business - from front-of-house to waitering, management and, of course and how to make fantastic Neapolitan pizza.
The final role of the academy is a location for Pizza Pilgrims to experiment testing pizza recipes and ideas as well as exploring ways to reduce waste and improve their impact on the planet.
To support the Academy, Thom and James have written a five-point manifesto summarising the fundamental ethos that underpins The Pizza Academy:
1. Champion the hospitality industry, celebrating it as the number one gateway for fulfilling, long-term careers
2. Challenge the perception that working in the hospitality industry is for during university or between ‘proper jobs’
3. Inspire young people to enter the hospitality industry, giving them work and social skills that can set them up for life
4. Provide a paid, in-depth training programme to people who may not have the means to receive professional training elsewhere, encouraging them to grow within their roles and develop their skills both personally and professionally
5. Give trainees the opportunity to explore all breadths of the industry – from training for front of house roles to ‘how to use a pizza oven’.