This article appears as part of the Food Matters newsletter.

Often, when speaking with Michelin star hopefuls and industry heavyweights, I hear a personalised variation of a tale that’s been told many times before.  

They’ve been in kitchen environments since they were first old enough to tie their own apron strings, you see, and all but learned to stop a hollandaise from splitting before mastering their multiplication tables.  

There’s no detracting from this enviable work ethic, and a lifelong passion for their craft is, of course, hugely beneficial on the road to success.  

But there’s another form of underdog story that never fails to make for both a heartfelt interview and a fascinating feature.  

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I’m referring here to the brave (or bonkers, depending on your outlook) folk who have later in their professional lives taken a sharp 180, straight into the flustered, challenging, but oh-so-rewarding world of hospitality.  

Take for instance Jennifer Walls of Plant Blonde, who turned her hand to baking during lockdown while awaiting a start date for a job at her local primary school, only to discover an innate talent for creating cruelty-free empire biscuits.  

Three years later she and partner Marc now run a hugely successful cafe in Partick and are preparing to launch a second location within Lush on Buchanan Street.  

Then there’s Peter Hibbert of the soon-to-be-opened Caesar’s Social, who utilised a creative spark fanned by years spent as a photographer in London when launching his first street food operation, The Muckle Backit Oven.  

I was to discover yet another example of the phenomenon while catching up with Roland ‘Roly’ Simpson, the owner of East Pizzas and East PIZZAs Dough earlier this week.  

Over the phone, he told me of how his business has evolved from a pizzeria utilising the best of Scottish produce like Great Glen Charcuterie and I.J Mellis cheese to include a wholesale and home delivery service for pre-made sourdough and pizza bases.   

The Herald:
Such is their success that the team had formed 2000 perfect doughballs to be shipped across the country on that Wednesday alone.  

Quite the change of pace from his former life as an estate agent of 12 years.  

“I don’t think I’d have believed if you told me that one day, I’d be selling dough out of a trading estate in Gracemont,” he said, “It’s a tough old gig, but I’m very happy to be doing something that I love.”  

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In what is a hugely difficult time for the food and drink sector, there’s endless admiration to be had for the likes of Roly, Jennifer and Peter who have gone all in to follow their hearts while filling our stomachs.  

Perhaps it’s worth sharpening up my own kitchen credentials, just in case the whole journalism thing goes up in smoke.   

Keep an eye out for the full interview with Roly Simpson of East PIZZAS Dough online this weekend.