Tom Gozney the Pizza Oven Revolutionary
Ask anyone what’s on their bucket list for their backyard entertaining, and there’s a good chance they’ll profess to a long-held desire for a dedicated pizza oven. Selector catches up with the architect of the modern era of pizza ovens, Tom Gozney.
For Tom Gozney, founder of British company Gozney, the vision of having a pizza oven of his own wasn’t simply a desire – it was a need, a way to reconnect with himself and his loved ones after recovering from the ravages of addiction and the challenges of rehab.
Building his first pizza oven by hand opened Tom’s eyes to how food can bring people together and led him to establish his first business in 2010. Founded in Christchurch, Dorset in the UK, The Stone Bake Oven Company focused on commercial ovens for local pizzerias. Its success became the foundation of Gozney, which marries wood-fired engineering and inspired design to, in Gozney’s words, “make live-fire cooking accessible for everyone to not only change the way we cook but how we live.”
This philosophy has seen it quickly disrupt and evolve the pizza oven market with an array of award-winning products the world has fallen in love with. Indeed, its entry level oven – the world’s first portable pizza oven, the family-friendly Roccbox – proved a runaway global success, gaining a cult following across Australia, the UK, Europe, and North America.
Gozney’s latest oven, the professional-grade Dome, built to the exact ratios of a traditional Neapolitan pizza oven, sold out globally within hours, and was the recipient of a coveted Red Dot Design Award. Certainly, Tom Gozney has come a long way from that first oven, but one thing has remained unchanged – his uncompromising belief in the healing power of food, and the integrity of handcrafted design.
Why pizza? What drew you to pizza in the first place?
Pizza is universal – it’s versatile, it’s shareable (if you want it to be), it’s customisable and it tastes incredible. At its core it’s all about basic ingredients – flour, water, tomatoes, cheese – that become magical when you put them together and once you’ve really honed your craft. It’s a dish that holds the power to bring people together, and that’s what really drew me to it. In my own life, pizza became a tool to reconnect with loved ones, build a community and make some epic memories with.
What was it like building your first pizza oven by hand? What did you learn?
It was fun, but a challenge – and the first one looked nothing like the products we make at Gozney today… more like a brick igloo! But it did capture me and ultimately inspired me to build a business that makes pizza ovens more accessible to everyone. It made me think “why can’t pizza ovens be easier to assemble, why can’t they be more portable, why can’t we weld functionality with aesthetics?”
With The Stone Bake Oven Company, the first ovens were commercial, professional pizza ovens, but the vision was always to make live-fire cooking accessible to everyone – using the same technology and materials as professional ovens.
Cooking and eating pizza can be such a communal act. For you, it helped in your healing. What is it about a cooking in a pizza oven that brings people together?
It’s so unique. I personally found the experience completely different to that of a BBQ. With a pizza oven, everyone likes to get involved! People are opening out dough, manning the oven, chopping the toppings… just helping each other out and having fun! Also, there’s nothing like cooking beside a live fire. It’s an experience like no other and something that really captivates a lot of people.
What has it been like building Gozney as a company?
It’s been a real rollercoaster but so much fun! We’ve some real highs and some difficult lows but I like to think the good times wouldn’t taste as sweet if it was always easy. The last few years have been pivotal for Gozney as we continue to push the boundaries of design and wood-fired engineering, and I can’t wait to see what the next few have in store for us.
Do you think that your ovens have revolutionised, disrupted the industry? Is there resistance from traditional pizza oven makers?
Yes, I think we definitely have. We use our long history in the commercial world to inform our designs, taking the functionality, design and principles of a traditional pizza oven and shrinking them down into something more accessible for every kind of cook. Roccbox was the world’s first portable stone pizza oven, and since its release the market has erupted. We’ve got more ground-breaking products in the pipeline, I can’t wait to see their impact.
How have chefs responded to your ovens?
Chefs love our ovens. Across our range we make products for both restaurants and homes, and our ovens feature in some of the world’s leading kitchens. What I really pride Gozney on is that we build ovens to suit all levels – easy for beginners to use, but also incredibly high-performing for masters.
Was there much work involved in getting the gas oven right?
Yes. We wanted the gas burner to simulate a woodfired flame with an authentic yellow rolling flame, and avoid strip burners or harsh gas flames that burn your toppings. It took us years to develop the technology which we have now patented, and we are still the only consumer brand to have a truly authentic rolling gas flame. For us, our rolling flame technology makes all the difference and consistently cooks pizza toppings to perfection.
The Dome recently won a coveted Red Dot Design Award. Did it feel like a vindication of what you were intending with Gozney?
It felt amazing. We spent four years meticulously designing and developing the Dome, so it’s been incredible to see the industry’s response. The Red Dot Design Awards are internationally renowned and securing one has always been something I’ve aspired to achieve. It really was a monumental milestone for us.
What’s your favourite pizza to make?
A 96-hour fermented dough with a simple Marinara topping – tomato sauce, oregano and olive oil – simple and beautiful. I am obsessed with a highly risen, leopard spotted crust, I’ve been on a ten-year journey of perfecting it and I still haven’t reached the destination, albeit I’m close!
What is your favourite non-pizza food to cook in your ovens?
I love blazing out tapas style dishes – wood-roasted artichokes, wood roasted meatballs, flatbreads –anything simple, fast and delicious.
Tom, thank you so much for your time.
Join the backyard revolution shaping what’s possible with pizza and beyond and visit the Gozney website today to bring some fire into your life today.
Plus, learn more about the Dome and put your name on the waitlist for it's next allocation.
In the meantime, try Tom Gozney’s delicious Marinara recipe for yourself – let us know what you think in on our Facebook or Instagram pages, or share what you’d most love to cook if you had a Gozney in your backyard.