The Wood-Fired Blog

An Open Letter Re: the Community Cookbook

Forno Bravo Community Cookbook
Everyone’s Invited to Join In!

Hello, Wood-Fired Oven Lovers.

Okay. I think we made a mistake. We included two pieces of similar news regarding the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook in the same publication (our June newsletter) – and it was confusing for our readers. We’re sorry about that.

So, let me try to clarify things here.

As you probably know, we recently started a special program to provide Primavera ovens to a few professional chefs, in exchange for their serving in an official capacity as consistent, regular contributors to the Community Cookbook. This is a fun way for us to build momentum and grow the Cookbook.

We have heard from a number of our community members who say they think that means we only want to have professional chefs posting recipes in the Cookbook. But nothing could be further from the truth! And we are very sorry if we implied as much and caused any offense.

The Community Cookbook is, as the name says, a community resource. We created it specifically so everyone could share their own experiences, recipes and comments in a community setting. We want everyone to join in and enjoy it! That is why we’ve just released a new, easier-to-use version of the Cookbook.

But from some responses we’ve received, I can see we were not clear about what we were trying to do.

Forno Bravo is all about community. For the past 10 years, we have enjoyed seeing each other’s ovens and recipes, making comments, giving tips, and getting to know a great community of people. Of all the things Forno Bravo has accomplished, I am the most proud of the group of people that has come together to create our wonderful community.

We want everyone to post recipes, make comments on other members’ recipes, and even create your own wood-fired cooking blog on the Community Cookbook. Jump in!

In summary, I want to sincerely express how much we appreciate all of you and your contributions to the world of wood-fired cooking. Please, light your ovens this weekend and let us know how it goes. We are looking forward to seeing all of your culinary creations.

– James

Pizza Ovens, Photographs, and Photoshop

We had a funny interchange on the Forno Brave Facebook page a while ago, when we posted a photo of the Andiamo oven with what looked like a photoshopped background of an business park. The basic question was — “why would you Photoshop an oven in front of a business park background?” The answer to the question was, “we didn’t.” We just used Photoshop to get rid of a couple of unattractive things (like cars and power lines), and the rest of the background was real. But the overall effect was not great.


So a little time has gone by, and we are now focusing our marketing energy on photography. One of the first changes is that the business park background is now gone.

Stay tuned. We are going to be doing a lot of work to make the quality of our photography higher, and to give you (customers and potential customers) better images and more views of our ovens, to let you really know what they look like — which is important particularly if you can’t see one of our ovens at Forno Bravo in California, at one of our dealers, or in the wild.

Chef’s Wanted

We are looking for a few good chefs. You might have seen that we announced a new program today on Facebook, where we will be making a free Primavera oven available to professional, working chefs in exchange for some great recipes and photos for the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook.


So, if you are a pro chef who loves wood-fired cooking (or who wants to learn to love wood-fired cooking), or even better if you know a couple of great chefs in your community who would be interested — get in touch with us!

Send us an email at, and we will get right back to you.

The Ever Humbling Art of Breadbaking

Just when you think you have seen a lot, you do something new wrong. haha. This is a 75% hydration sourdough rye boule (the flavor was really good), where I did not use enough flour to keep the loaf from sticking to the banneton — it’s as though I am trying to find things that could go wrong. From now one I will use lots of flour to line by banneton.


Oh well. The loaf came out OK despite the huge tear in the top. One skill I need to develop is docking a very wet load. I need to read up on that, or find a good YouTube video.

Sourdough rye boule

The FB Cookbook Get Social. Again.

Community Cookbook

The goal for the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook has always been to create a resource where wood-fired ovens lovers can get together and share recipes, techniques, photos and comments. So we are happy to be announcing the latest version of our FB Cookbook application. We now make it really easy for you to post your own recipes and photos, and we will soon be adding User Blogs, where you can sign up and blog your own cooking experiences and ideas.

Summer is just about here and the kids are out of school (if you have kids and they are still in school), so for many of us its time to fire up your oven and get cooking. Come on. Post a recipe. Give us your comments. Upload a photo. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Nice Forno Bravo Newspaper Profile

We had a nice profile in the Salinas Californianour local newspaper. As you might guess, they were very interested in jobs for the local community, still it’s always nice to see your company’s name in print! We’re getting a copy framed for the showroom.

Californian Logo


The article is only available in their “archive” at this point, so here is the text.


February 9, 2013

Pizza Oven Maker Moves to Salinas

After nine years of impressive growth, Forno Bravo, a global manufacturer of residential and commercial pizza ovens, has found a new home in Salinas.

Forno Bravo, which is still decorating its new headquarters on West Market Street, employs about 30 skilled workers, and plans to bring that number to more than 40 in about a month as the company ramps up to meet spring and summer demand, said Brent Wooldridge, engineering manager for the company.

While it can no longer be called a start-up, the company has grown from a boutique maker of ovens in 2003 to having a global presence in just nine years. The brainchild of retired Silicon Valley marketing executive James Bairey, the company has a network of dealers in North America, the United Kingdom, Holland, Denmark, Australia and Asia.

“And we are in the process of selling a unit in the Maldives,” said sales representative Amber Cuellar, who was out helping guys load a unit for a customer Friday afternoon. The Republic of Maldives is a chain of islands about 250 southwest of India.

The company started moving to Salinas from Marina last month after deciding it needed a single building — it was spread out over two buildings in Marina — and space to grow.

Bairey knows his way around the world of high-growth companies. As a high-tech marketing executive, he worked with companies that included Microsoft, Intel, Apple, 3Com and Novell, as well as scores of successful start-up companies. While he has lived in Spain, England, Austria and Italy, he now lives in Pebble Beach and consequently set up manufacturing in Marina and now Salinas.

Forno Bravo does much of its marketing online, which affords them the ability to market internationally. The gas- and wood-fired ovens range from smaller residential units for about $1,200 to large commercial ovens priced just under $10,000. The company also sells everything from gourmet basalmic vinegar and pizza-making kits to terracotta bakeware and outdoor fireplaces.

The company started out marketing solely to the residential market, but the commercial side is what is currently driving growth, Wooldridge said. The reason is obvious. An August 2012 Packaged Facts survey shows that 97 percent of U.S. adults eat pizza, and 93 percent have gotten food from a pizza restaurant in the past 12 months.

Making pizzas at home, where consumers can control ingredients, has also been trending up. According to NPD’s National Eating Trends survey, pizzas prepared at home increased to 6.4 billion in 2010 from 5.4 billion in 2009.

The success of Forno Bravo — Italian for “baked good” — is also a plus for Salinas in terms of tax revenue and the up to 45 jobs the company brings with it.

Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter, writing in the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce publication, said he requested an expedited permit process for the deal, something Daniel Vorhies, an associate vice president at Cassidy Turley, a commercial real-estate brokerage in Salinas, said he appreciated.

“Absolutely,” Vorhies said. “Joe (Gunter), Jeff Weir, Robert Latino and Courtney Grossman (all with the city of Salinas) understood what we needed to get the deal done.”

Before the lease by Forno Bravo, the building at 251 W. Market had sat empty for roughly five years, Vorhies said, adding that the building’s owners also “worked hard to lure the company from Marina.”

A Sourdough Boule

Sourdough Boule

Here is the bread from my three build, four fold sourdough rye. I think an honest assessment is that four folds worked — the bread had a solid structure and no problem with loaf height or oven spring (boing!). But the three build technique did not work as well as I had hoped. I would have liked a better final proof and a lighter, slightly less chewy crumb and a crust that wasn’t quite as thick and crunchy. It was not a loaf for the faint of heart (though I really liked it).

To summarize, I added 320 grams of whole wheat flour and 265 grams of water to a 80 gram AP flour/100 gram water starter and let that ferment for 12 hours overnight, and then added 50 grams of  rye flour and let that ferment for 24 hours, and then added a final 50 grams of rye flour and 10 grams of salt to make the final dough, and gave that 8 hours to proof. 64% whole wheat, 16% white flour and 20% rye, and 73% hydration. I just didn’t get the volume I wanted in the final proof.

My thinking is that sourdough culture just ran out of gas (haha), both because I did not retard the temperature of the second fermentation and because I only added the final 10% of the flour the final day. Next time I will fix both of those problems, and try to make the same loaf — just with more volume.

And I will definitely remember to do more folds for higher hydration dough that needs more structure; including baguettes. More to come on that.

Lots more baking to do.

DC Elite Pizza and Forno Bravo in the Washington Post

DC Pizza Elite

We had a really nice article about Dave Konstantin (Forno Bravo DC), and his DC Elite Pizza group in the Washington Post. Dave’s group, primarily wood-fired oven owners in the Washington DC area, has been meeting for years, and has grown to about 60 members.

WaPost logo

Konstantin is a lighting designer and the leader of DC Elite Pizza. The Arlington resident began selling the posh pizza oven kits part-time in 2007 and formed the club as a kind of informal support group: “I thought it would be nice for people to share pizzamaking tips, recipes, learn about new techniques.”

His e-mail list stands at 60. Folks who have come on this day own ovens, or might be on the verge of doing so — a few with wives and kids along. Here, they trade notes on sources for the necessary 00 flour. They compare peels (wood vs. metal with slats) and hydration percentages while they check out each other’s application of sauces (thin, uncooked) and toppings (Patrick Moffitt’s smoked mozzarella, lemon, basil and olive oil combo draws instant attention). Just about everybody swears by an almost-translucent, stretchy amoeba of Neapolitan-style dough that will puff and blister in under two minutes while remaining chewy and soft.

We need more groups like this around the country. If you want to start a local chapter, drop us a note at Forno Bravo. We will help you set things up!