Our Sunday night obsession with the Food Network continues thanks to The Great Food Truck Race. We couldn’t help but feel for Pizza Mike and his team last week when host Tyler Florence’s “roadblock” left them stranded in a park with little foot traffic. Curious to learn more, we reached out to Mike to hear about how he started in the pizza business and his hopes for a food truck future.
FP: How did you get your start with baking pizzas? We read that you used to operate a popular brick and mortar pizza shop in Westerville, OH. How did that concept evolve?
ME: I got my start baking pizzas while watching my grandfather as a child. He was a chef in Italy and part of the Italian Navy, and a great man.
I originally started in Columbus. I owned a hair salon for 20 years and there was a small pizzeria next door. The aroma wafted through the walls and used to drive me crazy! I’ve always loved cooking for my family and friends so when the business went up for sale I jumped at the opportunity. Within three years, I had won first place in national and international awards in Italy at the World Championships in Salsimigiore.
We later moved to Westerville, a suburb of Columbus to a location where I could have a small dining room (45-50). As much as I love to cook, it’s always fun to see people enjoy your food and build friendships.
FP: Tell us about your experience on Great Food Truck Race. Share with us the good, not so good, the bad…etc. What was it like to compete with the other food trucks? Looking back would have you done anything different? What will you remember most about the experience?
ME: The show was so many things… Great fun, intriguing, long tiring days, and it enlighted me about reality TV. It was one of the toughest projects I have done in my life. Remember, our team, we are all in our 50’s and the others were mostly 20 something’s.
I wish I had learned more about social media before I left and how to use it. Mostly I will remember all of the people I made friends with, the other teams, cast and crew and all the great people we met in the cities we traveled.
FP: What are your plans currently? Will we see a new store open up or a food truck cruising the streets?
ME: Currently I am in the process of getting my Pizza Mike truck on the road. It should only be a few more weeks and I am very excited! I am also shooting a pilot for a new show later this month in which I will be the host. I can’t say too much about it yet, but stay tuned. This could be really cool!
FP: Sounds like you have exciting plans in the works! Congrats!
Besides pizzas, what are some of your favorite meals to prepare when you are home? Any guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
ME: I love Italian food… cooking it and eating it. I love to make homemade pastas, sauces, homemade sausage, braciole and Italian beef. Along with pizza, these are my guilty pleasures and I could eat them every day (and pretty much do!, I’m never gonna lose any weight)
FP: Pizza is definitely one of our foodie pleasures for sure!
Name any three individuals you would invite over to share a pizza with and why.
Besides my family, I would have Joe Namath over (childhood idol). Since Frank Sinatra is gone and Andy Griffith recently passed, I would say Jimmy Kimmel because he makes me laugh and the President of the United States because I would convince him to let me cook at the White House.
FP: In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?
ME: They would probably say I’m outgoing, fun, and I keep getting told that I’m a “character” I hope that’s a good thing.
FP: Pizza Mike, thank you so much for your time. We wish you the best of luck with your food truck and your pilot for the show. We will be sure to stay tuned for all the action!