The Noo Yawker who became a part-time pizza slinger
From working on a Cornish farm to selling pizzas out of a window hatch, Pam Yung (head chef at Flor and Lyle’s) is one of the brains behind Asap Pizza
My first instinct when the UK went into lockdown was that I wanted to go home to New York. I wanted to be with all of my friends and family, but I was terrified of the idea of getting on a plane, catching something and infecting them, so I made the tough decision to sit it out.
Maybe I’m a little bit anal and have an overactive imagination. I was worried about the food supplies at the beginning, with the empty supermarket shelves. After I was furloughed, I saw a farmer on Instagram who was offering work and off I went for two months because there was food growing there and I knew I’d be able to eat. It was really an amazing place. I kept my mind occupied and my hands busy. I was lucky to be surrounded by nature.
I started thinking about a different food business model that required a minimal amount of staff. I thought about making Flor a food hub where people could get bread, pastries, groceries, as well as order pizzas for delivery and takeout. It didn’t happen, though. We stayed closed. A month and a half later, co-founder James Lowe said ‘Let’s do the pizza idea’, which is when I came back in late May. I felt like New York-style pizza was missing here in London. Personally, I love all kinds of styles, but I have such a fondness for New York-style having lived there for 13 years. The texture of the crust, the stringy cheese quality, the even colour on the crust and selling by the slice. Pizza has always been a passion of mine. I’ve never actually had a whole restaurant dedicated to it, but I’ve done pop-ups and specials.
It’s been a fun test-run. Opening in May, we were late to the lockdown takeaway game. We just had to do everything we could to get open: calling around for help from friends, adjusting suppliers, all the time not knowing how much demand there would be. We’ve reverted back to Flor for the winter. This doesn’t mean Asap Pizza is gone forever, though. We’ll keep it alive through special one-off pizza parties when Flor is closed and try to collaborate with other chefs and winemakers. It’s actually back next Sunday, 1pm until 9pm.