Italy’s pizzerias are experiencing a shortage. They have plenty of cheese, dough and pepperoni. What they are lacking are Italian pizza makers.
One out of every five managers surveyed for a report by FIPE, an Italian business federation, said that they were forced to hire unskilled laborers after failing to find anyone who was qualified. Despite the long recession and high levels of unemployment, an estimated 6,000 skilled pizzeria workers are needed, FIPE reported.
Antonio Corneldaniel, the manager of a pizzeria near Piazza Navona in Rome, told ABC News that he believes the shortage results from Italians’ disinterest in the long hours and relatively low pay associated with the work.
Corneldaniel, himself from Bangladesh, says that his pizza makers largely hail from Bangladesh and the Ukraine. The unskilled laborers start as dishwashers, then become salad makers and eventually move up the chain to make pizzas.
Although each pizza maker is trained by a Neapolitan, where pizza allegedly originated, there are more workers than there are trainers. Corneldaniel manages just one of the three pizzerias which make up the chain called Zico, and there is only one Neapolitan who oversees the work of all three.
Around the corner from Corneldaniel’s Zico shop, the crust at the Foccaciaria is made by an Egyptian. Nevertheless, people anxiously wait outside for a table.
That’s because the demand for the quality product has been high during the financial crisis. A typical meal at a pizzeria costs between $9 and $14, according to the FIPE report, which means you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Not all are convinced, however, that the work involved with making pizzas isn’t for Italians.
Franceso De Marco, an Italian who works at Trattoria Fiammmetta, said he knows that many Italians aren’t making pizzas, but doesn’t believe that his fellow countrymen shun the job.
“It’s a hard job, but it has great satisfaction,” De Marco told ABC News.
“It’s not that Italians don’t want to be pizza makers,” he argued. “You can get an immigrant worker to work for much less and longer hours so the pizzeria owner opts for that even if they may not be good at making pizzas.”
De Marco has competed in European and world championship pizza-making competitions and believes that the best pizza makers are Italians.
There are an estimated 25,000 pizzerias in Italy, according to the FIPE report. A local pizzeria typically employs six or seven employees.
ABC News’ Phoebe Natanson contributed to this report