Ever notice how food tastes that extra bit better when you eat al fresco?
Scotland’s unpredictable weather may not be as well suited as Italy for eating outside, but who cares about a little bit of rain anyway?
Coastal Pizza certainly doesn’t.
This mobile pizza business, run by Gareth Edwards, is all about enjoying a taste of la dolce vita by Moray’s coastline in the form of its Neapolitan style pizzas.
Having trained on a pizza making course in Italy, Gareth’s knowledge and passion for pizza goes into every flavourful slice.
But what makes Coastal Pizza unique is its secret ingredient: fresh sea air.
For Gareth, and his loyal following of customers, there’s quite simply nothing like it.
We talked to Gareth to find out more about Coastal Pizza.
Tell us about yourself.
My dad was in the air force, so I was one of those children that grew up in various parts of the world.
I lived abroad with my parents until I was 22 before moving back home to north Wales in a place called Penrhyndeudraeth, where I stayed for around 20 years.
I met my wife Sarah on a New Year’s Eve night out in Cardiff and the last ten years I spent before moving to Moray, I was in Germany where my wife was working for the health services for the British Army and I worked at a youth club.
Have you always been handy in the kitchen?
I’d say so, yes. I had a kitchen job in Portmeirion in Wales for a little while when I was younger. I remember the chef saying to me, ‘you have something’.
He later moved to another restaurant and invited me to go to college and work in his restaurant – but I never did.
I’ve had a few episodes like this throughout my life where I’ve had opportunities which I haven’t ended up doing, but I’ve always enjoyed cooking.
When I was a cub, the only badge I ever got was the cooking badge! I think it was a calling sign.
Have you had any cooking training throughout your life?
While I was working with a youth club as part of the British Army over in Germany, they allowed me the opportunity to re-train before it came to the end of my time there.
I decided to go to Italy to do a pizza and focaccia cookery course for around eight weeks at ICIF (Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners).
This was around three years ago and was based an hour or so south of Turin in this little village with a castle and this culinary school attached to it.
There was a really diverse cohort there and it was an amazing experience. Sometimes we’d break up the afternoons making gelato or working with chocolates.
What brought you to Moray?
My wife’s job as a social worker in Germany was coming to an end, so we started looking for jobs elsewhere.
Eventually, she saw this job in Buckie and thought, ‘we went from Wales to Germany, why don’t we go from Germany to Scotland?’ And that was it! It was probably one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Did this move provide the catalyst for Coastal Pizza?
For me, the big dream was to have a pizza café of some sort.
But then Covid kicked in and I realised that wouldn’t be a possibility.
So, I thought of going down the mobile route instead and in hindsight, that was another big decision to make – especially now with prices going through the roof for current energy costs.
I started the business in July last year.
We chose a company down in Kidderminster, who do the UK versions of airstream trailers to use for our mobile van rather than the standard box style food trailers and I ordered my oven from Italy as well.
How does it all work?
I rotate between different locations along the Moray coastline each week where people can come along and enjoy some pizzas.
Living in Findochty, what I mainly do is one night usually on a Saturday here, which is becoming quite popular with locals.
I’ve recently found a new spot in Portsoy too and have also gone to a number of events, which being quite new to all of this, is good for getting your name out there.
If it’s a really sunny day, I could sell everything within two hours, but rainy days are of course different.
I aim to make between 40 to 60 pizzas per week, on average, for being out three times a week.
What are some of your most popular pizzas?
When I first started, I decided I didn’t want to make pepperoni pizzas as I thought they were too obvious.
But when I did Buckie Car Show, I thought I’d prep some for the event. Around 90% of what we sold that day was pepperoni!
So, that continues to be a big seller, alongside other classics like the margherita. We also make ham and pineapple pizzas, which we call forbidden fruit.
There’s another called spice oddity which has Calabrian salami, ‘nduja and really finely sliced onions, which is my wife and I’s favourite.
Another popular one is the salami tsunami, which I source new salami for every few weeks.
I also shop local where I can like sourcing meat from a butcher in Fochabers, but the majority of my ingredients are Italian, so it’s a mixture of places.
Is there something about the sea air that makes your pizzas taste extra special?
There definitely is! There’s some kind of special magic that comes from this coastline that maybe gives that little bit of extra lift to our crusts.
I’ve always wanted to try and find locations throughout my life that I want to work in and that’s the beauty, for me, of being able to work here.
Even in Findochty alone, I can set up by the harbour or near the east beach at Sunny Craig, which both offer beautiful scenery. It’s nice to have that al fresco feel.
What do you enjoy most about running Coastal Pizza?
I do love to talk to people. Sometimes, that can be difficult as the more I talk, the less I sell!
But having that relationship and personal connection with new and regular customers is always a joy.
The Moray coastline is just magical and seeing the world go by almost gives me as much pleasure as making the pizzas themselves.
Stopping for five minutes whilst watching the dolphins float along on a gorgeous day, I don’t think I can really ask for much more, to be honest.