The Wood-Fired Blog

Winter 2014 Photo Contest

We are ready to kick off the Winter 2014 Photo Contest. The basic rule is that anyone (who has a pizza oven) can play. Send us your photo at photos@fornobravo.com (any of our customer service email addresses will work), and we will post them as they come in at a special location on Forno Bravo Photos. Your photo does not need to be a new oven, but we would like a new photo if you have submitted a photo to us previously.

We will let everyone know each time we post new photos. Then, after a few weeks, we will vote internally for the semi-finalists, and post the six “best” photos on the Forno Bravo Forum, where you can vote for your favorite in an Internet poll. The photo with the most votes will win a Forno Bravo Got Wood? T-shirt, and the pride of winning this prestigious competition!

We have done a few photo competitions over the years, and they have been a lot of fun, and we have all get to enjoy some great pictures and be inspired for future outdoor kitchen and oven design project.

Here are a couple of links to some previous versions:

Winter 2012/13

Australian Summer 2011/12

Winter 2011/12

Let’s get started — we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Back From a Break From Blogging

It’s been a while since I last blogged, and I have a ton of good stuff queued up to share with you. You might know that 2013 marked our 10th year at Forno Bravo, and we ended the year with a bang. 2013 was our biggest sales year ever, and it marked our 10th consecutive year of year-over-year growth. I’m really proud of that, and for all the people we have helped fall in love with the world of wood-fired cooking.

We have now been in our new factory for a little over a year, and we are getting more efficient all the time, and I am also happy to say that our quality and craftsmanship has never been better. I am a huge believer in continual improvement, and after 10 years of building the world’s best pizza oven, we are always getting better.

Looking forward, we have lots of fun things in the works that we will be sharing with you over the coming weeks and months, including new products, recipes and cloud-based services that we think will help you get more than ever out of your oven — or maybe become a happy owner of a wood-fired for for the first time. Stay tuned.

Out of the gate, we just posted a new series of great Pizza Oven Photos, something I really enjoy. We have some stunning ovens, and some nice snow shots. And some beautiful international ovens.

Speaking of snow, if you are getting hammered this winter, you have my condolences. Our daughter goes to college in Boston, and she has seen it all. Of course Forno Bravo is located in sunny Northern California, where (apparently) it never rains (and we are in a state of emergency). So to help everyone get through the final tough days of winter, we are going to have a Photo Contest. Details to come shortly, but I can say that we will be partial to snow photos in support of our friends in the central and eastern USA. (Sorry Australia).

In other news, I am still baking bread, almost daily, and my sourdough culture is alive and well. I’ve learned a great deal, that I want to share. Think of it as the confessions of a mediocre brad baker. Complete with photos taken from my phone.

And I am still running. Boston2BigSur is coming up in a couple of months (it will be my fifth), and I’m signed up for my second Ironman this summer, with a pretty unrealistic goal of qualifying for Kona in 2-3 years.

So there are lots of good things to look forward to, which for many of you, I know includes spring, and lots of wood-fired cooking!

Stay warm.

Wood-Fired Croatia (or more accurately, Istria)

We just returned from a very nice trip to Croatia. I have wanted to explore the Dalmatian coast for years, and the timing was right this summer. Our older daughter spent the summer working on campus in Boston (a very cool research project on pre-fab building using 3D modeling software and CNC laser equipment) and she had two weeks off before the start of school. And we put it to good use. Fly to London (see family), fly to Venice, boat to Istria (in Croatia), drive to Dubrovnik (bottom of Croatia), drive to Zagreb (the capital), fly to London (see more family) and fly home. It sounds hectic, but it was really very nice.

Istria pizza oven

I thought I would have share a couple of the cooking and food highlights — particularly the ovens. I have written before that the pizza in Venice isn’t very special. I don’t know if it’s an urban legend or actually true, but the story I’ve heard is that Venice had real problems with fires in medieval times, which is why they moved all of the glass manufacturing furnaces out to the island of Murano and banned wood-fired pizza ovens. Even if it isn’t true, it’s a good story. Either way, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wood-fired pizza oven in Venice, or had a particularly good pizza (but I had some really good fish).

Then we took the ferry to Istria.

Istria pizza oven

Istria was different; it’s been called Croatia’s Tuscany for good reason. The region was part of Italy until the second world war, and it still looks and feels Italian. The road signs are all written in both Serbo-Croatian and Italian, most restaurants serve antipasti, primi, secondi e dolce, and Italian is spoken widely. Olive trees, vineyards, olive oil, pasta, truffles, hilltop towns, and pizza ovens. We came, we saw, we ate.

I asked a number of restaurant owners where they got their oven, and most said that they bought an Italian-made kit locally, and installed it themselves. I even recognized a few of the ovens by brand. The pizza oven tools also came from Italy.

Istria pizza oven

Istria pizza oven

Istria pizza

 

IstriaIstria is highlighted in red.

We knew it was coming, but you could feel the difference after we drove across the peninsula and turned south, down the coast. The Italian road signs, the pizza ovens and pasta served at every restaurant was gone. Along with our ability to easily communicate. The family can speak Italian, French and Spanish, and none of it did us any good. haha.

The good news was that we had entered the land of the wood-fired grill. Which was equally great. But more on that next.

 

Calling all Architects and Restaurant Designers (with DXF and DWG files)

We have started the process of re-publishing all of our oven drawings in CAD formats for architects and kitchen and restaurant designers — going forward our oven technical specification sheets with be available in PDF, DXF and DWG. The first models are the Modena2GFA120, 140, 160 and 180, and they are available in the the FB Library. The Modena2GOK ovens will be published shortly.

http://www.fornobravo.com/library

Modena2G

If you are an architect or designer, and you need anything additional from Forno Bravo for us to work with your plans — let us know.

This is a big step forward for us in the commercial oven marketplace. You will be seeing some additional exciting announcements from us in the commercial oven marketplace. Stay tuned.

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.

Andiamo

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.

Trout

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 chefs@fornobravo.com, and we will get right back to 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.

Enjoy.

dtaylor@TheCalifornian.com

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.”

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!

100,000 eBooks

We’re making the world a better place one pizza oven at a time — and we’re now past the  100,000 mark for eBook downloads. Very exciting! Today there are many thousands of Pompeii ovens (and nearly 10,000 Forno Bravo ovens) installed across the globe, in North and South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. The Pompeii Oven eBook is free, so if you have been wondering why pizza ovens are so great and how you could put one in your backyard, you should take a look.

Pompeii Oven Cover