D.I.Y. Pizza

Name-Matt Conner

Occupation-Cooker of Foods

How long did it take to build a Pizza oven, and what experience did you have prior?
-It took about a month, but that involves building the cinder block base, pouring a 4″ concrete slab on top of the base, custom cutting lots and lots of bricks, laying the bricks with no forms, applying adequate insulation and then applying the stucco finish coat. This is the first one we built. We were going to buy a kit, but they cost about nine grand. This one was built for much, much less.

What kind of music is best to listen to while building a brick oven?
-Sir Lord Baltimore, Thundermother, The Pretty Things, The Sweet, and The Kinks. Basically nothing recorded before 1975.

How does it work, and how hot does it get?
-The fuel for the oven is wood, we use mostly red oak and white maple, but any hardwood will do. You start the fire in the oven right inside the door, then after it gets to pizza temperature you spread the coals out to heat the oven floor. After that you push them all to the back and stoke it up again until fire is hitting the roof and it burns itself clean. This whole process takes about two hours. Since the oven is football shaped, it creates a turbine effect with the air coming in combined with a convection effect from the dome, so it cooks from the top bottom and sides all at once. Optimum pizza temperature is 800 to 850 degrees F on the oven floor, which gives you about 1000 to 1200 at the top of the dome. The high heat gets the perfect char on the crust, and enables us to turn out 10″ thin crust pies in roughly two and a half minutes.

What’s the weirdest pizza related story you discovered while researching this project?
-I just read an article about a pizzeria in Naples, Italy that is under investigation for allegedly digging up caskets from the cemetery next door to them to use as fuel for the ovens. That is one serious search for flavor.

What makes pizza so awesome?
-It’s cheap, there are limitless ways to make it, and like sex, even when it’s bad it’s good.

-I love pizza!!

Steve Crandall

Coffee sipping pilot of a red FBM frame and a Nikon camera.