'Overzealous appetites' and broken oven blamed for pizza festival fail
Organisers of an all-you-can-eat pizza festival have apologised after a broken oven left some visitors frustrated at the flow of food.
Hungry customers took to social media to complain after the Notting Hill Pizza Festival, in west London, failed to live up to their expectations.
Bellmonte Life, which promised guests "the opportunity to sample unlimited amounts of pizza", have now said sorry, blaming the issue on a broken oven - as well as "overzealous appetites".
"Due to circumstances beyond our control, the main pizza oven broke down right at the beginning of the event," said the firm, which is described on its Facebook page as "a high-end luxury lifestyle brand providing exclusive events and experiences for its customers".
"Despite the best efforts of our team preparing the pizzas in the smaller ovens, the flow of pizzas was slower than intended.
"In contrast to claims that there were not enough pizzas, this was not the case.
"Our team was hard at work to ensure that everyone was able to sample pizzas.
"However, it was unfortunate that the queues grew due to some overzealous appetites, preventing others to be able to enjoy the food."
Organisers said they had planned to offer an "authentic Italian experience" over the three-day festival with beer, Prosecco, cocktails, live music, and unlimited pizza, but were faced with problems on the opening night on Friday.
Londoner Alex White, 28, said she abandoned the festival to go to a pizza restaurant having only eaten two slices in one-and-a-half hours.
"I'm definitely annoyed, it was clearly very badly thought through," said Ms White, who bought two tickets from the Groupon discount site for £15.
"There weren't any event organisers we could identify at the event itself, so we couldn't really get any updates or redress on the day itself.
"No-one was giving us any information or updates about how it was going either, so that was pretty frustrating, although to be fair to them the pizza itself wasn't bad, when we got it."
Tim Swabey, 24, said: "When we arrived at the festival we were immediately surprised by the long queues for pizza at each stall.
"The pizzas were being brought out really slowly on an ad hoc basis. It was clear that they had sold hundreds of tickets without thinking about how to cook the amount of pizza needed. I waited in a line for around 30 minutes for a single piece of pizza."
The political consultant, from West Hampstead, added: "It looked like something that had already passed through a cat's digestive system. It was a real disappointment.
"The organisers were slow to realise there was a problem, but eventually gave out free wine for people to drink while they waited. It's a real shame, as it could have been a great event with more planning."
Responding to the complaints in a statement on Monday, Bellmonte Life said £2,000 worth of complimentary glasses of champagne, wine and Prosecco was poured for festival-goers when it became clear that pizzas were not reaching everyone.
It added that an announcement was made at Friday's event to offer refunds and provide complimentary tickets for the other days.
"On behalf of the Bellmonte Life management, we want to sincerely apologise for the unfortunate events that took place during Notting Hill Pizza Festival on Friday May 11," the company said.
"After our team worked all Friday night to find emergency ovens, our Pizza Festival was fully operational for the remaining two sessions and over 1,800 pizzas were served on Saturday.
"Bellmonte Life takes pride in providing unique experience events. We have organised 50 events during the past four years from intimate networking and signature dinners to black tie balls and festivals."
The firm promised it would not let down its customers again, offering pizza festival ticket-holders complimentary VIP passes for an upcoming barbecue festival in July.