Norman heads our tour ground operations in Japan, having been based there for 26 years. Like many of us during the pandemic, he’s dealt with the challenges of quarantine and travel restrictions, which resulted in far less travelers and much more time on his hands. Not one to sit around, he found a fantastic remedy in a fun and productive side project, crafting an amazing wood-fired pizza oven! The positive vibes from his side project have now radiated out to family and friends, bringing lots of smiles to everyone who has had the fortune to taste his delicious creations - Hint: find out some of his mouthwatering recipes below.
Making Smiles with Pizza
"In late March of this year, tours came to a standstill due to COVID and I was unable to work. As a positive and proactive person I tried to find something to do with my time during the lull instead of sitting at home worrying about what the future would bring. I realized, quite fortunately, that I was still allowed to move around with fewer restrictions in the rural part of Japan where I live, and I wanted
I spent hours and hours looking for a project, to no avail, but then inspiration came from a past venture. Since I am a former pizza shop owner I decided to build a pizza oven at home for pleasure rather than profit.
I researched the materials needed and began my first ever build (budding crafters can find more details on the build below). Soon family and friends saw me making "something" outside and asked what I was doing? As I explained you could see their eyes lite up and they got genuinely excited. Now the oven is done and we are enjoying fresh pizza regularly while we wait for the world to get back to normal. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemon ____... Well this is my lemon pizza!" (recipe below)
Oven Construction with Recycled Materials
The resourcefully inspired design includes an appropriate pizza mosaic, made from recycled beach glass right from the beach outside their back door, while the interior was reinforced with scrap metal rods for strength.
"I tried my best to use recycled items. I got broken fire bricks from a brick factory in the area. They use 70cm long bricks as spacers when they fire simple bricks. When these high heat bricks break, they cannot use them anymore, so I could buy a truckload for pennies. The build was done by first studying other people who had made outdoor ovens and posted them online, then after this it was really just a learning curve. I have never done block or brickwork before, so I lost a lot of skin and learned a lot, and while the skin has healed the lessons will stay with me for life. The tabletops are poured concrete slabs, which was also a first for me."
The variety of possible pizza styles and food options is endless and Norman has created some inspiring and mouth-watering dishes.
Lemon and Cream Cheese Pizza
Made with lemon marmalade and mozzarella topped with lemon slices and honey.