Thursday, October 13th, GoreMade Pizza made their first mobile wood fired public appearance. It was a complete success!
The company I work for does a catered event for our department twice a year or so, with random pizza orderings in between. There's some partnership they have with Donato's Pizza and that's usually what's on the menu. The discussions were coming up for what to serve this time around instead of the same old pizza. This was about the time I found my love for wood fired pizza, and buying a wood fired oven was on my short list of things to do. After the purchase of the oven and going through the chain of approval, which is a dizzying process for anything in a corporate environment, I finally got the go-ahead.
Since I have not yet been inspected by the health department, It is illegal for me to charge money for food. So my department paid for the ingredients and I put it all together free of charge (although I was on the clock for 5 hours on pizza day!)
Thursday mornings here at work are usually pretty slow. There's stuff to work on for the next day, but nothing really coming in for that day until 2:00. So after clocking in to work at 8:45, I proceeded to go out to the front parking lot and start setting up.
It was a little weird setting up in the front parking lot, taking up the only two handicap parking spots by the front entrance (where I was told to set up). After I got the tent up with the help of a few passing by co-workers, it was time to start the fire and get the ball rolling. It took me a while to get the fire going, but it was an eventual success. I got a lot of visitors from my department, curious as to how the whole process worked, so it was a little less lonely than the pictures suggest.
I've been experimenting with freezing dough and have found it to be quite an efficient way of dealing with the concept of mobile pizza. The one thing I hadn't really figured out was how long it took to defrost and come to temperature. Luckily, everything defrosted just fine
Jessica showed up just as I was getting ready to make my first pizza. I've always worked solo, but with this kind of production, she was thrown right into the mix. We planned on practicing working together the previous pizza sunday, but schedules didn't allow such a rehearsal. So she was learning as we went, which made it kind of difficult at first. But she soon got the hang of it.
After the constant burning of my hand, it's decided that I'll be getting a new longer pizza peel very soon!
Pretty soon, we were knee deep in production. People were coming out to get the finished pizzas and take them into the conference room where food and a movie (Hocus Pocus) were taking place. We were spitting out pizzas every three or four minutes! So hot!
We had a few mishaps. Steve, a co-worker and friend, slipped on the steps carrying pizzas to the masses. He ended up going to the hospital and was on crutches the next day! Good thing Kroger has worker's comp or he might have sued me! We spilled a huge container of pizza sauce on the black top. There was just enough to finish the day! (I always bring too much!). I cut my finger on the broken sauce container and had to halt production until I could get cleaned up and find a band-aid.
All in all the pizza was very well received. I had at least 5 people tell me it was the best pizza they ever had! I got 12 pizzas out of 20 done and got reports that the 40 or so people in our department were stuffed and didn't need any more pizzas, so we started sending them out to different parts of the building. Everyone was super excited to be able to try it, curious as to what I was doing out front.
This was the fourth time i fired up and cooked pizzas in the oven, so there's still some getting used to. But i must say that it all came out very well for me being in my infancy of wood fired pizza.
This was the first time I made this much pizza. We used 11 lbs of flour to make around 18 or so lbs of dough by hand! I cooked 4 different meats (forgetting about the bacon until the last pizza had cooked), prepared 3 different sauces and probably cut up 15 or 20 different toppings! So much work! But it was great to understand the larger production side of things and see how it all came together.
In the end, we cooked all 20 pizzas, and I kept the last one for dinner that night, as I was not at all in the mood to cook anything else! We got done at 1:30, and after cleaning up, I made it back into work just in time for the 2:00 rush of work. From one set of crazy right into another! I was ready for a nap, but working out the rest of the day was what had to happen.
This was also my first time towing the oven besides the day I got it home (I never went over 30 miles/hr). I was a little nervous taking it on the highway, but after I got on the road, it got a little less scary. Homeward bound, I noticed the umbrella that came with the oven blowing around a bit too much. I thought I could make it home alright, but just as I got on the entrance ramp of 71 south, it blew off the trailer and landed in the middle of the off-ramp. I felt bad, but kept on moving. I never planned on using it anyway.
I stopped to pick it up the next day. The picture above was taken after some metal scrappers claimed the umbrella metal.
All in all, it was a lot of work, and the logistics are gonna take some figuring out. We'll have to narrow down our topping selection and get a better understanding of how to manage the frozen dough. And we'll need another table for comfortable production. All things i didn't know before this event. Live and learn! But it was a complete success! People were asking me if i would do their department parties and what-not. Probably 60-70 people who never had GoreMade Pizza were blown away by the deliciousness. That, indeed is priceless!
Thanks to my wife and all my coworkers who helped out! It was an awesome experience! The first of many!
Nick Gore was a corporate peon by day who just made the leap to full time pizza geek. Follow his path to world class Pizzaiolo right here on the GoreMade Pizza blog. Also, check out the facebook page.