Gourmet, homemade pizza delivered straight to your door? Meet Mr Slice
Time Out Bahrain staff
Gourmet, homemade pizza delivered straight to your door? Yes please! TOB’s Katy Gillett meets Chef Errin Stone aka Mr Slice, the man behind the newly revamped Adliya hole-in-the-wall Pizza Empress.
From the moment I take my first bite of my customised herb-crusted cheese-less pizza I’m hooked. Small chunks of broccoli, olives, caramelised onions, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and plenty of garlic lay atop the pitch-perfect tomato sauce on a thin, crispy base sprinkled with Chef Errin’s signature herb blend. He gives me a small tub of chili-infused oil and it soars to yet another level. Just next to me, our photographer munches on his cheesy mushroom and pepperoni creation. The room goes quiet.
This is Pizza Empress. A tiny hole-in-the-wall pizzeria that’s been in Bahrain for 23 years now but was, just four months ago, revamped by Chef Errin Stone. Or Mr Slice.
It’s certainly nothing much to look at – a bright yet fading yellow sign hangs over the doorway proudly announcing its location. Inside, there are two wooden tables and six chairs, a giant Vulcan stone pizza oven and two small back rooms full of produce and a big bowl of rising pizza dough. From the main dining area, you can watch Errin in the back producing your customised dish as he quizzes you on your favourite ingredients.
‘I think it’s 60 percent experience and 40 percent food,’ Errin laughs as he tells me about the new concept. ‘This is where I try to balance the scales – people come here for an experience even when they don’t expect it. Pizza is just pizza at the end of the day because you can slice it, dice it anyway you like it, but it’s the elements of the pizza dough, the sauce and the passion that goes into it.’
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Errin started working in the food and beverage industry at the tender age of 16. His first job back then was in a pizza-focused business. ‘Pizza is my first love,’ he says proudly. ‘Everyone is different, you’re handling heat and fire sometimes and at the same time it’s a fusion of everything in the culinary perspective that you can encompass on the pizza.
‘Oh and I love people who don’t like pizza,’ he laughs. ‘I’m like, “Oh really? Let’s talk!”’
These days, dressed in his chef gear, Errin works tirelessly day and night at Pizza Empress in order to produce his unique creations and satisfy his customers, while his cheery disposition and passion for the food remains strong. Every so often during our conversation he busts out a little rap or rhyme – ‘I’m a pizza lyricist too,’ he smiles. ‘I’ve come up with so many lyrics and rhymes and ways to talk about pizza. It just suits me and it’s what I always wanted to do.’
Since coming to Bahrain almost eight years ago, Errin has worked for some well known brands such as Al Riwaq Art Space (he helped them launch their café concept) and Organic Foods and Café. But before that, he’d already worked on all types of farms, launched Toronto’s first healthy street vendor cart and helped out with a non-profit organisation called Food Share. He knows his kitchens but he also knows his fruits, vegetables and fresh produce. And now he likes to mix it all up.
‘I want to have a variety of vegetables, a large variety of condiments you can put on your pizza but also revolutionise the way pizza looks,’ he says as he enthusiastically describes to me some of his ideas for three dimensional pizzas using a whole range of ingredients such as pumpkin, beans and pesto blends.
‘I actually envision the menu obsolete,’ he explains. ‘Because when Katy comes in, I’m going to make her a pizza. I actually know a bit of what you like and don’t like – salt, savoury, hot, spicy – and then you’re like “Errin, make me that pizza!”’
With that concept in mind, Errin is also working on a ‘Pizza Wall of Fame’ where regular customers will see their favourite combos featured so other people can sample them too. On top of all that, he also wants to gradually introduce whole wheat crusts, gluten-free options and other ‘fixer’ dishes such as the chicken wings and meatball sandwiches he currently serves.
‘I want it to be that element of surprise when people come here to try something different and very spontaneous so it’s like a rolling energy,’ he says. ‘I’ve had a lot of bad experiences which probably outweigh the good but I continue to survive and move on. I think it was all for something and maybe it was for this little opportunity here to see the possibility of what the future can bring.’
For now, Errin has no plans to branch out as he wants to protect the down-to-earth vibe while serving pizzas people really want to eat.
‘I bless myself everyday to be here, to walk to work and to be given this opportunity,’ he says humbly. ‘All I want to do now is just live and be an inspiration to my 14-year-old son. That’s been the greatest thrill.’ Pizza Empress by Mr Slice does home delivery. Open Sat-Thu, noon-midnight; Fri 3pm-midnight. Next to Al Jazira supermarket, behind Habara Snacks and Fish, Adliya (1774 2299).