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What started as an initiative to build community during the hardships of COVID-19 has blossomed into something charitable (and delicious). Evan Shuster is the GTA's newly appointed 'Pizza Person,' and for the past month, he has been offering pizza lovers a chance to get their hands on some free, home-cooked Neapolitan pizza while donating to a good cause.
As an avid pizza lover for many years, Shuster had always been enamoured with the idea of whipping up fresh pies for his friends and family. A few years ago, he purchased a Roccbox pizza oven for his backyard, which quickly led to weekly pizza nights with his wife and two kids.
Kneading dough by hand and cooking up pizza became an important weekend hobby for Shuster and as a way to spread kindness during the pandemic, The Pizza Person was born. At first, the Instagram page was a way to track his progress and pizza-making journey, but it wasn't long before he started to gain some real attention.
Shuster was initially making a couple of pizzas per batch, but then he figured, "Why put in all the work to make two pizzas for my family when I could start making four or five at a time?" said Shuster. Word of his free pizza quickly caught fire and though people loved the food and appreciated the sharing, his followers suggested he start charging for his beloved pies.
As a community builder and firm believer in sharing the love and joy through pizza, Shuster wasn't thrilled with the idea of making people pay for his products. Instead, he wanted to give those an opportunity to give back in exchange for some delicious, free food!
"I wanted to benefit a cause that mattered to me and was something that a lot of people in the city could get behind. We are so fortunate to have a world-renowned facility like SickKids right in our backyards, so I thought, why not set up a fundraiser to see what we can do," Shuster explains.
About one month ago, Shuster established the goal of raising $5000 for the SickKids Foundation and has already managed to muster up a whopping $1500 in exchange for his homemade 'za. With locally sourced ingredients like fresh fior di latte from Grande Cheese and Bianco di Napoli Tomatoes from a Woodbridge wholesaler, these Neapolitan pizzas are nothing short of exceptional, even leading some to donate over $100 just to get their hands on a slice.
Shuster instructs those who want free pizza, to follow The Pizza Person (and to keep an eye out for his stories) where he'll post when he is accepting orders. As of now, he plans on making pizza two days a week for the rest of the summer and will be featuring a rotating selection of toppings to be listed on the given days.
Pizzas are first come, first serve, so to order and reserve your pick-up time; you will have to send him a DM, where Shuster will send you the link to donate (if you can) as well as the pick-up address -- in the Dufferin-St. Clair area -- where he will bring you your fresh pizza, right to your car.