Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Profiles
From the Editor’s Desk: September/October 2006

Departure or Arrival


March 24, 2008
By Cam Wood

Topics

There are times in our industry – the publishing
industry, that is – when a break from the norm is required. It’s like
taking that leap from pepperoni, mushroom, and green peppers to
chicken, pesto and red onion.

Departure or arrival

There are times in our industry – the publishing industry, that is – when a break from the norm is required. It’s like taking that leap from pepperoni, mushroom, and green peppers to chicken, pesto and red onion.

It’s a different flavour. A week ago, I was prepared to print my thoughts from the editor’s desk about incorporating new and seasonal flavours into your pies. That was until I spent some time with a young pizza spinner in Montreal.

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The story of Juan Hermosillo can take many avenues: international politics, industry politics, pizza team politics. Essentially, more spins than pizza dough in his hands.

But our tale, today, is one of human politics – and hopefully one with emotion and compassion.

Many of us know Juan for his immense talent in spinning pizza dough in world competition. He truly is one of the best. His travels have taken him from Australia to Italy, from Mexico City to Montreal. Pretty much anywhere but home. Juan, as some of us know, spent the majority of his life as an illegal immigrant in the United States. Following a competition in Italy in 2005, he was banned from going “home.”

His journey is intriguing, to say the least. His current situation, however, isn’t.

Juan describes himself as a “ghost” holding Mexican citizenship, being from there but never really being there. All he knows – mother, father, brother, daughter – are in the U.S., the place where he’s not allowed to be. What he really wants is to stay here in Canada, and in order to do so, he needs to resolve his problem by Nov. 23.

So why help Juan?

Industry experts predict that foodservice in Canada will face a staffing crisis within the next four to five years – even sooner in the boom sector of Alberta. Some restaurants can’t even keep staff onboard with almost unheard of wages. There’s a rumour that one Edmonton pizzeria is paying cash bonuses at the end of each shift.

Yet, here we have a young man with an incredible passion for pizza, a desire to work, and an unbelievable talent waiting to be unveiled at a Canadian pizzeria. He’s waiting to bring certain publicity and notoriety to an independent establishment, just by showing what can be done with a ball of dough.

And while some might mock us, and perhaps even put their own spin on Juan’s story, what led me to this departure from our plan this month is a duality: as the son of an immigrant, I’ve spent years listening to the trials and tribulations of my father and mother who travelled thousands of miles from the comfortable life they knew to give my brothers and I a better opportunity. And, as a father, I can only hope that someone would be there to help my son when borders and politics prevent me from doing so.

The Canadian pizza industry is one of diverse cultures – people with short stories and people with epic tales. Most have happy endings. Juan Hermosillo is hoping someone here is interested in a new chapter … and so are we.

By the way, we’ve still got a good article on adding new twists to your sauce on page 16.