After a challenging experience with substance abuse, Gozney found solace and support in making pizza for friends and family, a pivotal turning point in his recovery journey. . It also inspired him to start his own company, called Gozney, which manufactures restaurant-quality pizza ovens and home kitchen accessories, in 2010. Now, taste Successful CEOs are paying for others experiencing substance abuse through new philanthropic partnerships.
Why pizza parties play such an important role in Tom Gozney’s journey to sobriety
In Gozney’s experience, growth comes from adversity. “I turned to alcohol and drugs when I was young, lost and struggling to understand myself and my place in the world,” he says. From an early age, he felt different and frustrated because he didn’t understand why. “I didn’t know it, I was dyslexic. But that was a time when dyslexia wasn’t really recognized, and I don’t understand why I found it so difficult when other kids were doing so well. I knew I was capable, but not being able to study the same way the textbooks slowly eroded my self-esteem, and I started acting out of frustration,” he explains.
As a teenager, Gozney turned to substance abuse as a way to escape his reality. “Drugs and alcohol have become intertwined in my perception of who I am. They give me a great sense of relief and allow me to turn off my brain or at least slow it down a bit,” he says. But things quickly spiraled out of control. “It all suddenly turned from a fun escape to something so self-destructive and damaging. The more I tried to clean it up, the worse it got and it felt like a race to the bottom,” says Gozney.
“In recovery, they say it’s important to find routines and activities that give you purpose and keep you busy. Cooking on fire was originally a tool for me to reconnect with loved ones. love, but it quickly becomes much more than that.” —Tom Gozney, CEO, Gozney
After surviving a violent physical attack, with the encouragement of loved ones, he realized it was time to go to rehab. There, he met a counselor named Oliver, who helped him stay sober. However, after rehab, Gozney found it difficult to reintegrate with his group of early 20s friends during their partying heyday. “I didn’t want my sanity to define me and stop me from hanging out with my friends, but though I didn’t want to admit it, I struggled to fit in social situations,” he says. where everyone drinks alcohol. . That’s when pizza parties were born.
“In recovery, they say it’s important to find routines and activities that give you purpose and keep you busy. Cooking started with fire as a tool for me to reconnect with loved ones, but it quickly became so much more—it really became a way of life and a great source of inspiration for me. ,” said Gozney. He would host pizza parties and found it to be a great way to feel the community spirit, as everyone would roll up their sleeves and cook together.
“I’ve always loved working with my hands, so I wanted to get into pizza making. It helps drown out the noise, and I find that the more I focus on the food, the quieter the voices become. The whole process, from kneading the dough, making the sauce to setting it on fire, became part of the ritual for me, and that experience is what ultimately inspired me to found Gozney,” he said.
How Gozney is paying for people struggling with mental health
To celebrate Gozney’s 15th anniversary of alcohol withdrawal, his company announced a new partnership with three global charities focused on supporting those struggling with substance abuse. The company’s US partner is To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), a nonprofit dedicated to helping people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Gozney (the company) will donate $100,000 of proceeds from the sale of the brand’s Tom Gozney Signature Edition Roccbox ($599) to these organizations, including TWLOHA.
“We both have a deep passion for bringing people together and TWLOHA has truly put that passion into action by inspiring hope to those struggling with dementia. addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Gozney said of the company’s philanthropic partners in the United States.
As these top-notch pizza ovens continue to succeed and become chefs’ favorites, Gozney has established close relationships with those in the restaurant and hospitality industry—an area overflowing with food. spread of substance abuse and toxic work environments, where food and drugs are often closely intertwined. “Sadly, as an industry, I feel like we still have a long way to go when it comes to making our kitchens safer and healthier workspaces. stronger—especially when it comes to drug and alcohol use. He explains that drugs and alcohol can often still act as a coping mechanism to combat the pressure and late hours that the routine environment demands.
Still, Gozney is hopeful about the future of the industry. “But the good news is, I feel there is a huge desire across the industry to continue to address this issue, with a number of chefs and restaurateurs having moved mountains in this space to better support the their group,” he said. He hopes that by partnering with organizations like TWLOHA and speaking out on his journey through sobriety, change is just a slice of pizza.
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