Canadian Pizza Magazine

Profile: Tommy’s Pizzeria

By Colleen Cross   

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International experiences have helped Thomas Schneider build up his Winnipeg business

Thomas Schneider, owner of Tommy’s Pizzeria in Winnipeg, has had a big year winning second place at the Canadian Pizza Summit, competing with the World Pizza Champions and having his Maple Bacon Pizza recipe published in The Pursuit of Pizza, a prestigious book launched at Vegas Expo featuring more than 30 award-winning pizza makers. PHOTO: CANADIAN PIZZA

The runnerup in our latest Chef of the Year East in Toronto, Thomas Schneider, is full of surprises. 

The owner and operator of Tommy’s Pizzeria in Winnipeg began his pizza-making career at age 15 working at Doughboys Pizza on Pembina Highway in Winnipeg. At age 19 Schneider moved to a small town outside of Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas, and opened his first franchise followed a year later by a second location. 

For Schneider, who always intended to open his own independent pizzeria, these were important steps toward gaining business experience.

In 2015 Tommy sold both locations in Texas and moved back to Winnipeg to work with his friend Matthew Tallman of Trans Canada Brewing Company where they opened up Timmy Tom’s Pizzeria inside of the brewery.


He continued to learn and establish his brand and opened his own location known as Tommy’s Pizzeria. 

The stylish spot with an old-style gangster vibe serves multiple pizza styles and seats up to 80 diners inside and 65-70 outside.

Texas training ground
He gained valuable franchising experience in Texas. 

“It was difficult at beginning. I didn’t know anyone. But it was a good experience. I just knew that there was a lot more to pizza than running a franchise. Papa John’s, I felt, was the best quality of ingredients at the time. But then I went to Tony G’s. We learned Neapolitan and Italian styles. Then I went back to the school to learn New York, Chicago and Detroit styles.”

International adventures
There have been many high points along this path. The dedicated pizza maker attended Tony Gemignani’s International School of Pizza in San Francisco. He competed at the Pizza World Championships in Parma, Italy, where he was named Best Pizza Maker in Canada. Twice he placed in the top 3 of the international division at Vegas Expo. When Schneider was asked to join the WPC Team, he became obsessed with learning about all the different styles of pizza.

As he gained experience competing, he began to enjoy it. He earned second place in Atlantic City’s Northeast Pizza Pasta event. “Competing in Italy was intense, nerve-wracking, there were two judges watching us very closely.”

Tommy’s produces at least 200 pizzas a Friday night in winter with the help of a top-notch staff. “My general manager has been with me for about seven years since the brewery days. My head chef has been with me about four years. I encourage them to express their creativity through two-week to monthly specials. It’s scary to let people come up with recipes that aren’t yours. It’s scary to let go of responsibility, but that’s allowed me to step back.”

Over the last year, following some health concerns, he has cut back from working 14 hours a day – not an easy thing for someone who has been operating pizzeria from his teenage years. 

“I gave up a lot when I was young,” he says. “I always had such great responsibilities. That’s why I am where I am today.”

He may consider franchising Tommy’s eventually and says that if he goes that route, quality will always be the focus. And his experience gained in Texas would stand him in good stead. 

His proudest moment has been getting on the World Pizza Champion team. “I hoped that would happen maybe in 10-15 years. It happened a little sooner than expected,” he says. 

Thomas Schneider, owner of Tommy’s Pizzeria in Winnipeg, earned second place at the Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year Competition at the Canadian Pizza Summit East in Toronto. PHOTO: CANADIAN PIZZA

On his menu are several special pizzas that pay tribute to his pizza industry friends. “My pizzas were named after these people I met,” he says. For example, The Gemignani features prosciutto, nduja sausage and soppressata pepperoni.

One of Schneider’s goals is to educate Canada on different styles. Among those are New York, Detroit, and tavern-style (a.k.a. Chicago cracker thin) which he launched early in 2024. Grandma-style is next – a style he learned from its inventor, Umberto Corteo of Long Island, N.Y. The style is baked in a rectangular pan and topped with mozzarella and tomato sauce, in that order, then cut into square pieces.

Every year Schneider travels, bakes pizzas in the shops of friends, samples the best pizza and brings home to Canada all that he’s learned.

“I’m working on telling my story. I tell people, ‘You don’t have to travel to the States. I’ve done the research for you. The best is in Winnipeg.’ ”

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