Seeking Input Re: Wood-Fired Ovens

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by devotay, Aug 16, 2001.

  1. devotay

    devotay

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    Hi Y'all.

    I am happy to announce that I have just purchased my 2nd restaurant! I am considering installing a wood-fired oven, but my experience with them is limited to my time in Culinary School many many moon ago.

    Anyone out there have any input at all about wood fired ovens? Costs? Benefits? Risks? Care and Use? Brands to seek? Brands to avoid? Gas/wood or just wood? Any input at all would be helpful.

    Many thanks.

    Peace,
    kmf
     
  2. kimmie

    kimmie

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    Hi kmf,

    Long time no speak! I don't know if this website will help but here goes anyway. Just click here

    and all the best with your new restaurant!

    ;)
     
  3. devotay

    devotay

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    Thank you Kimmie, it's an interesting site with a lot on construction of the ovens and other useful technical stuff.

    Anyone out there bought one recently? Use one at work? Have any info on costs, pitfalls, fire hazards, etc.?

    Thanks again, y'all.

    Peace,
    kmf
     
  4. greg

    greg

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    Hello, Devotay! About 5 years ago, I was the sous chef in a wood-fire pizza place. We used a 6 foot Wood Stone wood-fired oven (no gas assist). Very well constructed (their web-site: http://www.woodstone-corp.com/ ). Care and use of wood-fire ovens is easy, once you get the hang of it and know your oven. I'm speaking from a mostly used for pizza perspective, though. The gas assist might be better for you, depending on what you plan to use it for. They run very hot, so having a cook working the oven that knows what they are doing is key. Let me know what you plan to use it for and I can better answer your question. Also, I would try to find a way to have the oven in a place where your diners can see it; the visual appeal is huge. Find a good wood supplier and your in business.
     
  5. devotay

    devotay

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    Thanks Greg, I had found their site once before, and they do seem to be the go-to guys. Funny how sites like that never talk about costs, though.

    The new restaurant will be Northern Italian, but I want to borrow one tidbit from the South, specifically Naples. If I could make a pizza half as good as the stuff I had there, I'd blow everyone else out of the water. I may cook one or two other things in it from time to time, but pizza will be the focus.

    Thanks again.

    Peace,
    kmf
     
  6. greg

    greg

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    I'd recommend a wood-fire with no gas assist, then. In the gas assist, the fire is more of a visual thing, with the gas maintaining a more steady deck temperature. If you were primarily doing oven-roasted meats and seafood, this would be your best bet. But, for pizza, you can cook in these ovens anywhere from 550 to 750 F and achieve good results. Also, lots of flame is required for the initial rise and also for browning of the crust.

    Mise en place for your oven for authentic Napoli-style pizza would be: whole logs (white oak) to be placed in the oven at the end of the night to keep the deck from cooling too much overnight. Quartered logs are used to start the fire again in the morning and bring the deck up to temp (minimum 525 F to cook pizza). For cooking, you need to split your wood down to about 1"x1". It can be a pain to do this (you need 3-4 milk-crates full of wood chopped like this on a busy night), but you need wood that will create a lot of flame without adding too much to the coal bed; the deck temp can get out of control if you're not careful. Even so, we had busy nights where we had to pull the whole coal bed out of the oven and restart the fire in the middle of service. :eek: Also, dry wood chips are used when you load the oven with pizzas; they give you a quick, big flame for the initial rise of the crust.

    As far as costs are concerned, gas and wood cost about the same to run, wood being nominally more expensive due to the labor involved if you want to do it right. Then, of course, things might even out again considering that a wood-fire oven never needs repairs!