Cardiff Character: Ieuan Harry

The latest vendor to move into Cardiff market talks pizza passion, buying a van and managing his own business

When Ieuan Harry made his first pizza in school, he threw in whatever ingredients were close to hand. Since then, he has come a long way, from experimenting with different recipes at home to starting his own pizza business alongside childhood friend Jeremy Phillips.

You can find Ffrnwes Pizza on Cardiff Market’s balcony, nestled between an electronics store and a pet shop. Ieuan likes the British quirkiness of the market and the feeling that everything is under one roof.

He says they are the new kids on the block, having only been at the market for three and a half months.

Ieuan’s love of his craft is plain to see. When discussing his favourite pizzas he becomes more and more animated, going through the merits of each one, before finally throwing up his hands.

“It’s impossible to choose which is my favourite,” he says.

The first slice

Ieuan, 36, was born in Llanelli. He first came to Cardiff as a student and never moved back. He loves how much there is to do in the city and that there’s always something new.

Four and a half years ago Ieuan left his 9-5 job at a mining consultancy to create Ffwrnes Pizza with Jeremy. They were inspired by a trip to Naples, the birthplace of Neapolitan pizza. On the way back they had the idea of putting a wood-fired oven in the back of a Piaggio van, creating a portable pizza stall.

“We bought the van off Ebay after drinking a bit of red wine,” Ieuan says. “It was really a now or never moment.”

Life on the road

Ieuan admits he had a lot of trepidation walking away from a regular income. Things were touch and go during the first year and the pair had to accept any event that came their way.

“There were 10-hour days spent stood outside in the freezing cold selling ten, fifteen pizzas,” Ieuan says.

Despite the change in lifestyle, Ieuan finds it a lot more enjoyable being on his feet and meeting new people.

“It’s nice seeing all these little places and it gives you a chance to explore,” he says.  

It is a tight squeeze in the cabin and a three-wheel van tends to struggle when you stick a 300 kilo oven in the back, but this doesn’t bother Ieuan.

The oven in the new market stall is twice the size of the one in the van

He says, “You always get a little trail of traffic behind you, but it’s part of the fun, part of the charm of the whole thing.”

Rising up

Ieuan and Jeremy competed in the Pizza World Championships in Naples earlier this year. They took their van on a road trip through Europe, tasting wine in Bordeaux and training with the Agen women’s rugby team along the way.

But Ieuan says the main highlight was working with his pizza heroes.

“We got to meet the real superstars of pizza making,” he says. “They’re like rockstars!”

While the van still gets used for events, setting up a permanent venue has always been Ieuan’s goal.

He’s happy to have reached this point as it gives him more of an opportunity to experiment with different types of pizza.