“Getting clean and going into recovery was the most amazing step”

Alex South

Alex South


Tom Gozney founded Gozney just over a decade ago with the company quickly becoming a market leader in its field.

With offices around the world in countries such as the UK and the US, Gozney is a product design brand that makes pizza ovens for consumer and commercial settings, and has evolved and grown rapidly from its humble roots.

“It started through making a pizza in my house in the conventional oven, it was a little bit soggy and rubbish, so I went on a quest to build a pizza oven in my garden,” explained Tom.

When Tom set-up Gozney he was at a crossroads in his life. He had just come out of rehabilitation in South Africa after spending the best part of a year inside due to alcoholism and drug addiction.

“I came out and I was reintroduced to society, trying to figure out who I was, where I fit,” he described.

Reflecting on who was at the time of launching Gozney and leaving rehab, Tom said: “My persona prior to that was the messhead in the corner. I was the guy who was the life and soul of the party, and it was my persona to be this sort of wild guy.”

In search of who he is, his personality and his interests, Tom invested a lot of time into cooking for his friends and family and it wasn’t long before his interest developed into something bigger.

“What happened from then was pretty incredible, the series of events that took place. It just completely changed my life, the way I socialised, it removed levels of vulnerability from my life, it gave me purpose and made me feel at home,” explained Tom.

Upon leaving rehabilitation, Tom was still in a vulnerable state and lacked a proper education after being kicked out of multiple schools and being unable to obtain GCSEs due to his behaviour and dyslexia, something that Tom admitted to struggling with thorough-out his youth and adult life.

“I was highly dyslexic going through school, so I just didn’t achieve. I had no GCSE’s, I got thrown out of all the schools I went to because I was naughty,” Tom described.

However, despite these challenges, Gozney helped Tom find out who he was, what he was good at, and what he wanted to achieve, by acting as canvass for him to work across a variety of different disciplines.

“When I started building the business it was this grassroots self-taught marketing, self-taught brand, product design, all of this stuff. It was the best education I could have ever asked for, jumping in at the deep-end,” he reflected.


The evolution of Gozney and the transformation its experienced over the last decade isn’t just a reflection of the brand’s success but also Tom’s journey with conquering addiction and discovering who he is as a person.

Looking back at his life growing up, Tom stressed that he was privileged and came from a loving and supportive family, pinpointing his addiction to his school life where he struggled with dyslexia and was lightly bullied.

“I didn’t really know where I fit. I didn’t really fit in with kids in school, I wasn’t doing well, so I started to misbehave and what I found kids responded to me and I became popular because of it. I was the naughty kid,” revealed Tom.

Left unchallenged, Tom carried this behaviour into his teenage years when he discovered and started using drugs, providing him with escapism cancelling the noise and stresses of the outside world.

“All of sudden drugs were an everyday thing for us. If we were partying we’d take drugs, if we were sad we would take drugs, if I got into an argument with my parents I’d take drugs, and all of a sudden I became an all-time drug addict.”

Tom’s worsening alcoholism and drug use was routinely getting him trouble with the police, forcing him to address and control his problem, only for Tom to find out this was easier said than done.

“When I was trying to stop, my using just got 10x worse, so much to the point where I went downhill. I suppose that was the beginning of significant suffering from a mental health perspective, not being in control of my action and being a prisoner to drugs and alcohol.”

Knowing he needed to get clean and get control back into his life, Tom embarked upon the agonising journey of breaking the cycle of addiction to drugs and alcohol, after he was admitted to a South African Christian rehabilitation centre.

“Getting clean and going into recovery was the most amazing step,” he explained.

Describing the long difficult journey of rehabilitation, Tom said: “Getting clean is when you’re so connected to your mental health, you can’t get away with it, you’re present in your mind constantly and you have to work to improve that.”

With the help of the centre and its Christian principles (he stresses he is not a Christian), Tom managed to master his recovery and stop using drugs and alcohol altogether.


Since his rehabilitation, Tom has been clean from alcohol and drugs for the best part of 15 years.

By sharing his story, Tom has helped raise awareness around addiction and mental health, struggles that affect millions across world, including families and individuals in his local area.

“I’ve helped so many people in my local area who are friends of friends or friends of the family and just seeing first hand, sharing my story has been enough to help people change the direction of their lives,” explained Tom.

Over the last 10 years, Tom has built a global brand, but he’s continued to share his story and help the lives of other people at the same time, with both his story and the story of Gozney becoming woven together as one.

Earlier this year, Gozney released the Tom Gozney Signature Edition Roccbox, a special model of oven with $100,000 of its proceeds being pledged to organisations that support people struggling with alcohol and drug dependencies across the globe.

However, his company’s charity work goes beyond just special edition products.

“In the UK, we partnered with a charity called With You, who unlike other charities that are just about raising awareness, With You have call centres and the money that we’ve donated goes towards having councillors on the end of a phone to be able to speak to people going through challenges free of charge.”

For Tom, the focus of his awareness work is twofold, adding resource for the charity and remove stigma about addiction and bad mental.

Looking to the future, Tom’s aim to continue building Gozney whilst also removing outdated and damaging stigmas that exist within the hospitality industry and wider society.

“We’re growing globally, we’re opening offices in various parts of the world at the moment such as Germany and Australia, and it’s a little bit surreal for me to see the business scaling truly into a global business which is really exciting,” explained Tom.

Talking about plans, Tom revealed the company’s immediate plans for the future: “We have a line of products coming in the consumer space for home ovens and we’re also continuing to lean into helping deliver quality products in the commercial space. Our commercial oven business has been UK bound so in the future, we will be looking to expand it overseas and continue to offer great products and service to people commercially outside the UK as well.”

For anyone struggling with addiction, Tom said: “To anybody struggling put your hand in the air and go and speak to someone. There’s lots of amazing places to get support and help now, and I think it’s not something to be ashamed of.”

He added: “The charity that we’re working with in the UK, go give them a call or Google them, even if you don’t tell anyone, even your loved ones, if you’re struggling internally and you’re finding it hard to talk go speak to a stranger about it and figure out what the first steps are to get help. It took me a long time to put my hands in the air.”

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Alex South

Alex South

Editor 6th December 2022

“Getting clean and going into recovery was the most amazing step”