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The pizzaiolo with a big heart

The pizzaiolo with a big heart

L”Atelier de Julien” opened at rue Beaumont, Nice, in June 2018. 
After a few months, it ranked 2nd best pizzeria in our region according to an Internet site and, currently, it comes fifth… Here is an extraordinary character.
To be honest, I have known Julien since he was born. As a child, he was an endearing, smiley little boy.  However, we haven’t seen each other for years.  And here he is, after 2 or 3 decades, a young man, warm and smiley, and a good looker too!
We hug and I start my questions.
 
Julien, can you tell us how you became a pizzaïolo?
I first studied Commerce at UIT.  Commerce is my blood.  Then I read Law for 2 years and I stopped.  I really wanted to start a profession.
 
What was your first job?
I first worked at Equip ‘Auto Tuning service, I liked it, I love cars you know… Then I worked 7 years for Ubaldi and eventually I spent 2 years with my family, they are market gardeners. I sold fruit and vegetables with them and there I found what I love best. The essence of trade is the contact between the seller and his clients.  I also experienced the quality of fresh local products that became a religion in my pizzeria
 
L’Atelier de Julien wasn’t born at rue Beaumont, was it?
No, I started in 2013 rue Ribotti in Nice.  I ran a micro pizzeria that served only 15.  I mostly did deliveries but that is where I earned my stripes.  It’s a pleasant memory.
 
Why did you open a pizzeria?  You weren’t really predestined for it.
Not at all!  I could have gone on working with my family but selling at markets is hard work.  Being market gardeners is sheer vocation and I am very close to my family.  But I like cooking.  My father loves pizzas he is an Italian. So, opening a pizzeria paid tribute to him. It was important for me because I owe him a lot.  I regularly test new recipes, often original, sometimes crazy…
 
How do you create your recipes?
I do this job first because it’s fun and because I love making people happy, then to make my family proud of me.  When some friends tell me they love such ingredient, I immediately make a pizza with it!  I love creating, surprising and giving.
 
Have you got any secret for your pizzas everyone is talking about?
Hard work and motivation!  My golden rule is fresh local products only in my recipes.
 
I understand you make pizzas for the homeless.  Do you think that sort of action is important?
It is simply essential.  At the beginning I used to give the homeless the pizzas ordered but not collected.  Then I considered it was not enough and invited the local homeless to our end of the year dinner.  Two years ago, I cooked 100 pizzas and last year 400.  Last New Year’s Eve I offered them soup.  With my friend Kevin Bacquey, we organized a charity New Year’s brunch.  130 people came.  We gave the 3500 euros we earned to the Fondation Lenval.  It’s not much but it means a lot to me. I realize how lucky I am, a pizzeria that’s going well, and clients who are loyal and satisfied, I want to give back to the community.
 
 A business going well for sure! Any more plans?
Indeed!  I’ve just opened a bar restaurant at place Grimaldi in Nice, “the Madonna”.  The cuisine is local and the atmosphere great, you should come!
 
That is Julien Ronda, generosity, empathy and always a smile on his face.

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