On the edge of the Caribbean Sea, off the islands of St Thomas and St John, there’s a floating pizzeria serving fresh pies to order, straight from the oven.
Tara and Sasha Bouis are the US couple who started the incredible floating food outlet known as PiZZA Pi. Both quit successful careers to fulfil their dream of being able to serve strangers delicious Italian food in clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
So how did they do it? Read on, dreamers.
AWOL: What inspired the lifestyle change?
Tara Bouis: My husband, Sasha, and I both left our mainstream jobs in the USA in search of a more balanced and fulfilling life. I was a special ed teacher in Indiana and Sasha worked on Wall Street in NYC.
Sasha and I met while working on the water in the British Virgin Islands and, after meeting, we joined the luxury yachting industry for a number of years. While working on yachts, we noticed the food-truck culture take off in the States, and we realised that with the right location, the same concept could work well on the water.
We created PiZZA Pi with the intention of keeping a foot in the marine tourism industry while creating a little more time for family and life outside the yachting world.
AWOL: What made you choose this location?
TB: We chose Christmas Cove as our home bay because it’s the cove where we came up with the original idea for the pizza boat. It’s also located between St Thomas and St John, which makes it a great boating destination from either island, and the bay is protected from weather all season long which allows us to provide great service seven days a week, rain or shine.
There also happen to by quite a few resident sea turtles and a great reef for snorkelling – not a bad way to pass the time while you wait for your pizza!
AWOL: Why a pizzeria?
TB: We chose pizza because it’s very familiar and everyone loves pizza. Buying food from a boat is a new and somewhat weird concept, so we wanted to keep the food predictable for the customer.
The other thing we’re loving about pizza is the versatility of flavours – you can put just about anything on a pizza.
AWOL: What has this lifestyle change taught you?
TB: Sitting behind my teacher desk in Indiana 10 years ago, I could never have guessed that setting off on this course would land me where I am today. Making a living in the islands is not easy and it’s not always fun, but running a pizza boat suits me and I’m proud of what we’ve built.
I gain a lot of energy from visitors to the pizza boat – tourists and captains have come to depend on us and I thoroughly enjoy my contribution to society because it is uniquely me. This is a feeling I never would have known if I stayed in public education.
AWOL: And finally, perhaps the most important question, what is your favourite type of pizza that’s served at Pizza Pi?
TB: Guests always ask about my favourite pizza and that’s a hard question for me. I’m from a family of five kids and I’ve adopted a line from my mother: “I love each of my children [pizzas] equally, while recognising their unique qualities”.
I spent a lot of energy creating four specialty pizzas that play well together for each of our three menus, which rotate throughout the season. The goal was to create menus that provided flavour combinations for everyone — from very familiar to super weird but wonderful.
(All images courtesy of Pizza Pi)