Landscaping and pizza might seem like strange companions but Chris Gill’s career creating backyard havens was the inspiration for his venture as a pizza aficionado running The Wood Fired Oven.
The Hills District resident was searching for a new direction and, having installed a pizza oven in his backyard after envying those he built for clients, he decided to take the concept on the road.
“Our first pizza truck was converted from one of my landscaping trucks,” Chris recalls.
“For the first year and a half we were running the landscaping business and the food truck, mainly on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Chris took a leap of faith and committed to the pizza business, but disaster struck when the door of his truck popped open and took out a power pole.
“All of a sudden we had no income.”
Sourcing a custom-made truck with a bigger oven from Sydney, Chris and his family were soon back on the road with The Wood Fired Oven, rotating through regular stops on set nights of the week at Everton Park, Ferny Grove, Ashgrove and The Gap and, more recently, Bardon.
The onset of COVID-19 forced a rethink, with only family members allowed to work in the business, and Chris had the heartbreaking job of letting other staff go for a period of time.
But once things improved, the popularity of take-away food surged.
“During the height of Covid, our business grew 225 percent, we added another vehicle, and employed many local school and university students,” Chris says.
While producing popular pizzas is gratifying, Chris is more passionate about the community connections his business has created.
“People would come and sit in the park and have their pizzas and their sanity moment.
“One of the benefits of our business is that we come to the community and the community gets to use the park.
‘We love being local and in the community.”
The popularity of The Wood Fired Oven has led to catering for birthdays, weddings, engagement parties and more.
“One of our pizzas is even named after one of our first customers, (local author and filmmaker) Josie (Montano),” Chris says.
“The first week, she ordered a Pizza Supreme with pepperoni, and then she ordered it every week.
“We tried it and loved it and put it on the menu.”
The pizza’s known as the Nonna Pina Supreme in honour of a character in Ms Montano’s short film, The Great Salami Breakout.
For more information and truck locations click here.