Toppers Pizza video brings a slice of Ventura County

by Hungryginie

Vim Jonker, who has been jogging Toppers Pizza due to the fact that 1980, does now not, in my opinion, use social media.

Considering the Ventura County-based totally pizza corporation best these days released an Instagram account, social media is not a great part of its business plan.

“We try to keep a low profile,” Jonker said. “We’re essentially nonetheless a mom-and-pop business.”

But when Jonker’s daughter Kelsey posts to the employer Facebook web page, she likes to jokingly punctuate the instant inside the workplace with the aid of pronouncing, “And we’re viral.”

“This one time,” Jonker said, “she spoke the truth.”

A video of worker Cristian Valadez the usage of his bare fingers to save a warm pizza from falling to the floor has been watched online more than 7 million times this month.

The viral post drew the eye of producers at “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” leading to Valadez making his past due-night time television debut remaining week.

“Something you don’t get to do each day,” said Valadez, a 19-year-antique assistant supervisor on the pizza chain’s Camarillo shop.

Valadez, who has been working for Toppers for 3 years, grew up with both his dad and mom operating on the Camarillo restaurant.

“He’s grown up with pizza sauce in his veins,” Vim Jonker stated.

As a result of the eye, clients have stopped Valadez to take selfies at work. As he spoke to a reporter on Tuesday night time in Camarillo, a girl stopped to tell him she had visible him on Facebook.

“There’s a whole lot of people coming in and asking for pics,” Valadez said. “I simply come to paintings every day and just do what I do.”

The video has introduced a slice of Ventura County to the countrywide stage.

When rapper Anderson.aak obtained the key to the City of Oxnard ultimate yr, he stated he hoped it opened up the doors at Topper’s.

When writer Jon Gold, who grew up in Thousand Oaks, wanted to interview Los Angeles Rams rookie Samson Ebukam for an ESPN feature, he chose Toppers on Moorpark Road “to introduce him to what I recollect to be the fine meal within the location.”

Right place, right time

Valadez’s flavor of Internet repute, at first, was an afterthought.

“It changed into hectic night time,” Valadez stated, describing the moment that started the whole thing.

A customer requested the Camarillo High graduate for a fork. Valadez bumped into co-employee Luis Andrade as he grew to become to deliver it, sending a piping-warm pepperoni pizza sliding off its peel and into midair.

Using the instincts honed at some stage in the kitchen team of workers’ annual Thanksgiving basketball game, Valadez reflexively snagged the pie over his left shoulder and smoothly positioned it adequately on an empty pizza peel on the counter.

“I just stuck it,” Valadez stated. “It becomes quite warm… I just occurred to be inside the proper location at the right second.”

He simply kept operating, slightly pausing to wipe his singed wrist on his apron, but he later found out the kitchen’s security cameras might have recorded the moment.

“I realized, ‘Oh guy, there’s a digicam there,’ ” Valadez stated.

The photos went from keep manager Jesse Calles to trendy supervisor Matt Sadowsky to Kelsey Jonker, who edited the video — adding the pixelated sun shades popular with the “Thug Life” meme — and published it.

“I simply changed into gambling with it,” Kelsey Jonker said.

The Jonkers knew something big became occurring when the video racked up 80,000 views in the first hour.

“We just type of watched it from there,” Kelsey Jonker stated.

Soon, a producer from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” called, and Valadez and six different Toppers personnel have been headed down to Hollywood Boulevard to tape the display.

“It blew my thoughts,” Valadez stated.
Cristian Valadez, an assistant manager at Toppers Pizza in Camarillo, is honored as a pizza hero by using host Jimmy Kimmel throughout a phase of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on June 18 in Hollywood.

They were assigned a trailer stocked with treats and hung out within the green room. Valadez’s co-workers sat in the front row, watching a show that blanketed actor Joel McHale, actress Betty Gilpin, and musical guest Santana. Kimmel delivered Valadez as “The Sully Sullenberger of Pizza.”

“It was a tiny stage in comparison to what we see on TV,” Valadez stated. “There became a lot of lighting, a variety of cameras… It was simply nerve-wracking.”

The nerves didn’t display. Asked by means of Kimmel who he’d want to play him within the film re-creating his pizza heroics, Valadez answered, “Tom Hanks.”

Kimmel proclaimed June 18 as “Cristian Valadez Day,” honoring him with a crown and a sash that reads “American Hero.”

Valadez wrapped the 5-minute phase with the tagline that hangs over the eating location inside the Toppers in Camarillo: “Eat more pizza.”

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