Wednesday, 5 March 2014 | MYT 1:45 PM

An Oscar for the pizza guy

Edgar Martirosyan had no idea he would be part of host Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar plan when he delivered stacks of pizza to the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. -- AFP

Edgar Martirosyan had no idea he would be part of host Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar plan when he delivered stacks of pizza to the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. -- AFP

Meet Edgar Martirosyan, the guy who delivered pizzas on Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.

When Edgar Martirosyan showed up at the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, California on Sunday with a stack of pizza boxes in hand, he thought he was delivering a few pies to some hardworking Oscar staffers.

But Martirosyan, co-owner of Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria on Sunset Boulevard, soon found himself being led onto the Oscar stage by host Ellen DeGeneres. With 43 million viewers watching at home, he was instructed to hand out slices to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Julia Roberts and Jared Leto.

“I was shocked,” Martirosyan said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “When I realised I was on stage, I didn’t understand what was going on. Like, ‘What am I doing here?’.”

The 30-year-old guy’s journey to Hollywood & Highland began Saturday, he said, when he received a call from an Oscar staffer asking whether he would be able to handle a delivery to the Dolby Theatre the following day. He was told he’d be getting the order after 5pm on Sunday.

When Sunday evening rolled around, Martirosyan was slammed. He doesn’t usually deliver pizzas himself – that stopped five years ago, when he went from an employee to co-owner of the Hollywood outpost of the pizzeria. But because of how busy it was, he decided to help out and drive over to the Dolby himself.

Ellen DeGeneres and Edgar Martirosyan (with red cap) handing out pizzas to hungry celebrities at the Oscars including Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep (sitting in front) and the delivery guy's favourite, Julia Roberts, who sat behind Streep.  -- AFP

Even though he had to pass through a number of security barriers, he never imagined that he would end up as part of the telecast.

“They told me it was going to be for the writers,” he said.

When he finally got backstage, he was told to wait, and suddenly DeGeneres appeared. She introduced herself to him, and then the host told Martirosyan to follow her, without saying where they were going. She didn’t give him any instructions on how to behave or what to say, and before he knew it he was in front of the Hollywood elite.

Born in Armenia, Martirosyan moved to Moscow at age 10. There, he grew up watching some Hollywood films, including Roberts’ Pretty Woman. Needless to say, he was star struck when he found himself handing her a slice of cheese pizza. “She was actually more beautiful in person,” he said with a laugh.

And then, just as quickly as he’d found himself in the spotlight, he was back at work. When he walked into the pizza shop, his employees greeted him with screams. Reporters from local news outlets and paparazzi had also gathered outside the restaurant.

On Monday morning, Martirosyan filmed an interview with DeGeneres for her talk show in Burbank, while his Facebook page was covered with comments from friends congratulating him on the Oscars appearance.

Elsewhere on Facebook, Big Mama’s & Papa’s – which has 20 locations in California – was touting the accomplishments of the franchise owner.

Referring to his journey as the “American Dream Come True!”, a post described how Martirosyan went from delivery driver to franchise owner. In fact, Martirosyan said, he started out even lower on the food chain at Big Mama’s – handing out fliers on the street on behalf of the business.

“I always loved to cook and had a real interest in learning to make pizzas,” he recalled. “So I became a cook, and then a manager, and then an owner. Business wasn’t that good – it wasn’t that clean when we came, and I’m really picky. So I started to clean everything up and grow the business.”

As for how all the attention from the Oscars would affect sales, Martirosyan said he was trying not to get ahead of himself.

“Of course, extra orders are very good,” he said. “But I’m very calm. I’m not going crazy now. I’m really chill. This is just another, regular busy day.” — Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Oscars , Event , Pizza


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