A newfound appetite for sourdough pizza bases, discovered by households across Scotland during the pandemic, now sees an Edinburgh business preparing close to 10000 doughballs each week.

In what he has previously described as a “baptism of fire”, Roland ‘Roly’ Simpson left the corporate world behind him after moving from London to the Scottish capital in favour of a career in the kitchen.

After enrolling at the New Town Cookery School on Queen Street, he spent time honing his skills in cafes and catering before turning his attention to establishing east PIZZAS in 2017.

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“I’ve always loved pizza”, he said, “I was the kind of guy with a paving slab in the oven trying to make it cook better or messing around with dough which was invariably a disaster.

“When we moved from London, it felt like a fresh start, and I was keen to try something new.

“I just wanted to make really good pizza and hoped that someone would eat it.”

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And eat it they did.

Before long, Edinburgh had become well acquainted with a menu that married local produce with classic Italian flavours on blistered, sourdough bases.

“We wanted to try and adopt a Neapolitan approach where everything is sourced from within 30 miles of here.

“Other than tomatoes, there’s absolutely no reason that you can’t achieve that.

“There’s cheese certainly, and Great Glen Charcuterie which is made using venison and very sustainable.

“It seemed to make more sense than opening a fully Italian-style pizzeria in Edinburgh.”

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Three years later, as the hospitality industry was plunged into turmoil as a result of the covid 19 pandemic, east PIZZAS began to explore new ways to supply customers with their fix of 72-hour proven sourdough bases.

“Even before the pandemic, there was an incredible demand for dough.

“But things are very different now, aren’t they?

“Everyone bought a pizza oven over lockdown and these days they’re desperate for a really good quality dough to cook at home.”

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Recognising a way to make the most out of their prep kitchen space, Simpson and his team set to work in launching east PIZZAS Dough, a service which allows households and restaurants across the country to order their own doughballs, bases and toppings online, all to be delivered in a neat, cardboard box.

Having just welcomed his second child to the world, this new venture would also offer him the chance to swap the late nights for early mornings, albeit with no let up in workload.

“We handmade 2000 doughballs between us last Wednesday alone, but we’re also making pizzas in the prep kitchen as well which I guess would put us up to around 10000 a week.

“I’m in at 5 am with the guys and they get straight to balling, cutting and baking to fulfil all the orders that have come in the day before.

“There's a lot of talk of sourdough being difficult to work with, but once you start doing something an awful lot you soon get the hang of it.”

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With a staggering number of orders to prepare every day of the week, it will soon be time for east PIZZAS Dough to search for more space, a move that Simpson says he will make once they have found the perfect location.

Also in the pipeline is a jump into retail, with aspirations of seeing their bases readily available to purchase in shops.

It’s all go, and a far cry from the professional life the 41-year-old once led as an estate agent in London.

Does he ever see himself hanging up the apron?

“If you told me six years ago that I would one day be selling dough out of a trading estate in Gracemont I’m not sure I would have believed you.

“We’ve had a really good run so far and everyone has been really supportive.

“It’s a tough old gig, but at the end of the day you might as well be doing something you love.”