Authenticity through Pizza

Sep 16, 2022

Today I had a heartfelt conversation with a client about the difficulty of stepping out of the established family dynamic in order to tread the road less travelled to true authenticity. So often we are shaped by our place in the family and the order in which the family arranges itself. This version of ourselves and the habits and relating styles we develop in order to remain in harmony within the family dynamic, guides us for decades to come. For many, a time will come when a choice is made to follow a different path, towards greater authenticity and self expression, a threshold to the wilderness of self discovery.

This conversation reminded me of a food programme I watched on Netflix, The Chef’s Table and the episode called ‘Franco Pepe’. This programme was such a good illustration of this point. A man with a vision of how he wanted to make Pizza, different to the way his father had made it.

After his father died, he and his brothers inherited the pizza making legacy of their father and carried on the tradition as it had always been. Eventually Franco Pepe felt called to follow his own creative process and express this through making pizza in a different way. Unsupported by his family and his own son, Franco Pepe knew he had to go his own way. He started his own restaurant and separated from the family in order to show his own authenticity. According to the family, he had betrayed them and the legacy of their father.

Years of dedication, developing his own style pizza, Pepe’s restaurant became a huge success with accolades coming from across the globe. His restaurant became a global pizza destination. Yet, Pepe felt lonely and in great emotional pain; fulfilling his destiny could not make up for the core wound of ejection from his family. When his ageing mother became ill, he reunited with her and made a promise to try, as best as possible, to build bridges with his brothers. At her funeral the simple act of hugging his brothers opened the door to rebuilding relationships and regaining the trust of his son. The years that followed brought reconciliation, collaboration between brothers and the start of a father and son working side by side, repairing years of separation.

This story is the story of so many people. The call to be different, the call to be true to oneself, even when this does not please others. On the surface it looks like an act of self development and creativity, the drive to thrive authentically for only one individual. On a grander scale though, it was one man’s struggle to change the rigidity of a lineage and to grant permission to future generations to be creative and to feel secure enough not to feel threatened by change.

I love this story because what stops so many people heeding the inner call to to transform, are immediate fears of upsetting friends and family, or of change itself, but what if your bravery now paves the way for future generations? We cannot always predict the long term impact of our actions and, in the short term, it may be the disruption that becomes the main focus. Your call to transform and evolve as you are supposed to, however,  is an act of freedom and bravery  that can inspire others to fulfil their own destiny.