The Wood-Fired Blog

And so it begins….A Girl and Her Dragon!

Where the Dragon Quest all began

Where the Dragon Quest all began

And so it begins….

My quest began sometime in June 2014, sitting with a glass of lemonade and more family members than you could shake a pizza peel at.

Before I finish that story, some background information is in order. My name is Kylie, Kylie Holland if you want to get fancy, Kylie Kies Holland if you’re my mother and I’ve misplaced something rather important, like a young cousin (it happens to everyone, right?) But I digress.

I am 15, a sophomore in a Bay Area school that’s a hop, skip, and a train ride away from San Francisco. Last June, my father’s family decided to convene in Nantucket for a brief reunion. Upon discovering a well-written bike/hike map, my mother rented us all bicycles and announced a trip to a local brewery! Huzzah, some of us were underage, but, no matter, we were going to drink lemonade.

 First, we promptly got lost. That, however, is not important. What is important is that we persevered because, had we not, this would be a pretty non-existent blog. We found our way thanks to an exceedingly kind local (and in spite of some less than amiable truckers). Once at our destination, my sisters (Devon, 14, Piper, 12) and I discovered, to our utter joy, that the Brewery had a contract with a food truck.

Actually, what the proprietors had was way better ⎯ A pizza stand, but not just any pizza stand. Beneath that canvas shield stood Steve, owner and founder of Roamin’ Pizzeria. In case the name didn’t tip you off, he owns the only mobile pizza oven on Nantucket (not entirely surprising, given that Nantucket only has 10,000 or so inhabitants, but impressive nonetheless).

Now, this isn’t a Roamin’ Pizzeria advert, just a wholehearted endorsement of Steve (and his amazingly delicious pizza you MUST have if you ever go to Nantucket).  Alas I must move on from Nantucket and transport you back to my hometown circa July 2014, via an untested atom transference machine.  Provided we arrive in less than three pieces, and one of those pieces contains both our brain and our ears, we’ll be treated to a discussion about Quest.

   At my school Quest is a year-long independent study/passion project. Basically the school tells us to go find something we like and explore it for a year.  Last year, I recreated Henry Thoreau’s Walden Pond. I decided you couldn’t understand Thoreau unless you lived his life so I took up woodworking and built a chair, bed, table and cabin, learned to sew some clothes and learned about edible plants.  Let’s just say chickweed looks way too much like poison oak for my tastes and leave it at that.

After long deliberation, filled with no end of stress eating trying to figure out this year’s “passion,” I remembered Steve’s pizza, and decided to recreate his mobile pizza oven enterprise for myself, or at least try.

 Wait, she’s talking about pizza? You ask incredulously, finger hovering over the back button. Don’t go yet! I’m finally getting to the good parts! I write up a Quest proposal submit it to my school, and get the OK (provided I bring in a few pizza samples sometime along the way — for academic purposes only, of course).

 My first stop is the internet. I buy a few books on bread and pizza making, look up some tutorials…and that’s where the process ground to a stop. You see, I can build small cabins and make reasonably decent looking skirts (provided your eyes don’t linger on the hem), but masonry is not my strong suit. I needed help.

First I emailed Steve, who recommended the Fire Within to me. I checked out the website, looked at the workshop dates, realized it was in Boulder (and that the workshop season was over), and ended pretty much where I started.

Then, a breakthrough. My Aunt Sharon belonged to a club, and one of her fellow members had built himself a pizza oven and was known as a great cook (and a seriously nice guy).  I met my first mentor, Paul Molnar, for a couple of hours and came out of the meeting with a business card, three pages of notes, and another recommendation, Forno Bravo Ovens. Angelic choir

I was heading home from a Model United Nations conference in Monterey and Forno Bravo was on the way home.  So I set up a meeting with Timothy Cole on a Sunday at Forno Bravo’s headquarters in Salinas.  Yes, I said Sunday, even though they are only open M-F, Timothy Cole, Forno Bravo’s tremendous COO, was kind enough to meet us on his day off, for which I will be eternally grateful! 

We pulled up at Forno Bravo and went inside. The next hour and a half, well, quite frankly, it was amazing! So many pizza ovens! So many business opportunities! He walked us through Forno Bravo’s history, its showroom and its current business. He spent a ton of time giving me my first real tutorial on the mobile pizza oven business. I walked out knowing the oven I wanted, leads on trailer makers, tips on next steps, another ringing endorsement of Fire Within’s workshop and pages of notes (seriously, at this point in time, I’m probably a leading cause of deforestation). I also promised to blog my journey to help others as he and so many others are helping me.

That’s where I am now. A head full of ideas and a rough draft plan. With a little luck, a lot of work (and probably more than a few burns), I hope to start a successful venture. I’ve probably exceeded a word limit (and your patience), so I’ll end here but stay tuned for the next installment in the adventures of A Girl and Her Dragon Pizza.

Mobile Pizza Oven Catering Craze

forno bravo, pizza oven, wood fire, mobile catering

Forno Bravo wood fire pizza oven used with The Fire Within mobile catering workshop

Have you ever been to a festival or farmer’s market where there was a pizza vendor using a wood fire oven?  Most likely there was a swarm of people lined up to buy a hot, crispy pizza as fast as they could come out of the oven which makes pizza oven mobile catering a successful business venture.  This success has led to a mobile pizza oven catering craze!  A Forno Bravo partner, The Fire Within, provides a turnkey solution for people who are interested in developing a mobile catering business using Forno Bravo wood-fired ovens.  This month they will be holding their 28th workshop in Broomfield, CO.  The “Getting Started” workshop has taught hundreds of people a method of starting a mobile pizza catering business that helps to eliminate common mistakes a startup can often make.  A unique benefit of the workshop is the continued support attendees have from other participants as they share their experiences and knowledge of mobile catering.

Using Forno Bravo ovens, these soon-to-be pizzaiolos gain hands-on oven training and learn the intricacies of pizza dough making, the details of business operations and how to leverage effective marketing strategies.  Their proprietary business plan, “Rolling in the Dough”, can be purchased by itself, but anyone interested in this business model would do themselves a favor by attending the workshop.  It’s three days of non-stop business planning and wood-fired cooking.  Not only do you go through the business plan, but you get hands-on experience with the actual equipment you will be using.  They even bring in practicing wood-fired caterers for a Q & A session so you can learn from their experiences.

The Fire Within isn’t a franchise; they teach the business model for people to create their own individual business identity.  Brava, Texas Pizza Wagon, Epicurean Catering, Firevine, Jack’s Famous, Touched by Fire and Pizza Amore! are just a few of the names owners have chosen.

Not only does The Fire Within teach the mobile wood fire oven catering business, they also sell the pizza oven trailer using Forno Bravo ovens.  Depending on the individual’s business plan, they offer an extensive selection of standard oven trailers all the way up to a fully customizable 16 ft. for high end caterers.  The oven trailers meet all safety and sanitary requirements with Intertek, NATM, NSF and UL certifications.

If the thought of creating your own mobile pizza oven catering business has crossed your mind, look into the Getting Started Workshop from The Fire Within at .  What will you call your mobile pizza business?

I can’t Wait!

I have been building this up for months to all my friends, family, colleagues, the gardeners, the repairman and anyone else who would listen.

Ever since I decided I wanted my own Forno Bravo wood fired pizza oven, I have been talking about all the wonderful things I am going to bake in the new oven – breads, meats, and most importantly the pizza everyone was dying to try. I spent hours researching the different dough and sauce recipes. I pored through the forums to make sure I didn’t make any rookie mistakes. 

Now, I am not a serious chef. In truth my wife handles all the cooking except manning the barbeque or the occasional baking adventure to satisfy my sweet tooth.  But this was going to be my new adventure. As I waited for my oven to ship, I spent my evenings watching the Food Network and dreaming. I envisioned awesome summer get-togethers with the whole family and elegant evenings sipping wine with friends on the trellis-covered patio. A new lifestyle that you can only dream of was going to come true. 

Once the oven arrived, the anticipation intensified. I eagerly waited as the lift-gate on the delivery truck lowered the crate to the street. The driver talked up the coolness that is wood-fired pizza ovens as I convinced him to help me push my massively heavy new toy up the incline of my driveway. Once we had it up the driveway I couldn’t wait any longer. A few minutes later we had the crate apart and we were staring at a thing of beauty. This was the golden ticket, the desired passport to the summers I had always dreamed of. 

The coming weeks were hard as I waited for weekend days when it was warm enough outside for me to spend the day tending the fire so the oven would cure properly. It is kind of like giving a child a toy and saying they have to wait for batteries. I live in Colorado and in the winter the weather is unpredictable. I can now tell you from experience that maintaining a low temperature fire, like those required to cure the oven, is a challenge when it is 20 degrees outside. I spent days bundled up running in and out of the house as I dreamt of making and tasting that first slice.

Once the oven was cured I was ready to have people over right away. I checked the weather and did a little happy dance since it was going to be 40 degrees outside that weekend and we had no other commitments. My Denver Broncos had already disappointingly been eliminated from playoffs so my Sunday afternoon was free! I invited some family over to help witness the awesomeness that was going to commence, and I spent Saturday afternoon making sure everything was in order: homemade San Marzano tomato sauce, homemade dough, 5 cheeses, 6 meat choices, herbs and drinks. There was nothing I was going to miss.

I woke up the next morning with a big smile on my face. Today was the day. I went outside and triple checked the fire starter stack I had meticulously built. I checked the dough and set out the plates. When the time came I lit the fire, and watched the flame dance across the dome. I felt the warmth of the fire on my face. I knew this was the start of something special.

I’ll save the details and challenges of that first attempt at pizza for another post, but I can tell you this much: it wasn’t perfect and that didn’t really matter. Some day I might be able to make the perfect pizza, but it’s not about perfection, it’s about the joy of the experience. The challenge. The food. The laughter of family. This summer and all subsequent summers and springs and falls will be filled with amazing gatherings of friends that center on our new oven, and I can’t wait. 

Thanks to Feedback from Dealers / Customers on our prints

To the Forno Bravo faithful, we appreciate the feedback and suggestions regarding our print layouts for our wood fired oven kits.  Many of our technical support calls over the years have been because our prints were more about oven use, then install.  That is changing!  We are in the process of updating all our drawings to provide Architectural views for Designers / Installers as well as key component parts.

We are confident that our customers and their contractors will find this new format much friendlier and, as always we welcome input / suggestions.  Just email us at

When each oven family’s prints are ready, we will keep you posted with Forum announcements.

The Casa and Premio series ovens are all done and ready on our website.  They are under the “Dimensions” tab on the main site.

We are working on the Giardino ovens now and then the commercial products.

For a quick peak, check out the Casa 90 print.Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 6.32.53 PM

Key improvements include:

  • A nice clean visual of the Front, Side and Top view of the oven with all the installed components layered.  This came from all our customers suggestions;
  • We added the minimum recommended foot print for the installation.  This assumes that your pizza oven install is going to use stucco and not a thick structure to enclose it.  Thank you to Home Pizzeria Ovens of Florida / New Hampshire for that suggestion.
  • Insulation and Flue specifications are clearly identified.
  • Ship weight and crate size are listed in the bottom left to make planning for a delivery easier courtesy of Outdoor Pizza Ovens in Canada.
  • Minimum clearances to combustibles are clearly identified in the top view thanks to The Arch in North Carolina;
  • Hearth specification is listed for convenience so you don’t have to refer to the install guide when planning;
  • A Decorative Facade Allowances chart is included to give you an estimate on how different appearances may increase your foot print.

Designing the World’s Finest Pizza Oven into your home keeps getting easier.

Thanks again and have a great Spring planning your project!

Forno Bravo Operations Team


Napoli oven in Mobile Catering Application

This photo was recently shared with us by our friends with Concession Nation in Florida.

Another mobile catering trailer built using a Napoli 120 wood oven.

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Concession Nation’s Roma style Mobile Catering oven

This oven was produced by our friends in Ft Lauderdale – Concession Nation.

The oven installed is from our Roma Product line, modified and installed into Concession Nation’s unique mobile catering trailer.

To learn more about their Roma style mobile catering solution, click here.

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Casa Grande High School — OLE

Before we moved to the Monterey Peninsula (via Florence), we lived in Sonoma county in the beautiful California wine country. So when we heard about the Casa Grande High School OLE Project (Outdoor Learning Environment) in Petalum, CA, we were really interested. To quote the source:

The OLÉ Project is an exciting new venture that will provide students at Casa Grande High School with an expansive new area to learn about science, literature, history, math, and a variety of other subjects. The Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) will feature a kitchen with a pizza oven to be used by students, a vegetable garden and fruit orchard, and seating for classes and special events.

You can visualize how a pizza oven can serve as a real catalyst for community activities and student learning. So we decided to donate an assembled Toscana pizza oven to the project. We have done all of the paperwork, and the oven will be shipped and set up shortly. This is really exciting, and we want to wish everyone involved Good Luck!

Happy Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from everyone at FB. Living on the left coast near the ocean has its pluses and minuses. As I look out over a warm day and blue sky (and think about going for a run at lunch), I can’t help but think about our relatives in the UK and our daughter in Boston — who are seeing real winter this year. On the other hand, we’ve been here in Monterey country for five years and I still can’t quite get over the lack of real seasons. Our local area is covered with Monterey Pines (of course), Live Oak and Cypress trees, and very few (almost no) deciduous trees, so it’s always green. Never red or orange, and never bare. In the days after our monster Pacific storms blow through you can barely tell which season it is by just looking out the window. So I guess it’s hard to complain about the weather when it’s so nice.

We often talk about how the best weather is in Florence. That part of Italy gets four real seasons — freezing in the winter and very hot summers; and just as you are getting tired of the heat or cold, you can feel the season starting to change. You never get bored, and there is some rainfall throughout the year.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday shopping season as well. We are getting lots of phone calls and Internet orders for pizza ovens, oven accessories at Forno Bravo, and I think we’re doing a good job of keeping up. If you don’t get connected straight through to a sales agent, please bear with us. If you are looking to have one of our smaller, pre-assembled ovens shipped in time for Christmas, but sure to let our sales people know, and we can work with you to see if it’s still possible. Don’t forget that you will need to cure your oven before doing any cooking, so roasting your Christmas turkey might not be possible at this point. But pizza for New Year’s Eve sounds pretty darn good.

Again, happy holidays to you and yours. It’s a wonderful time of year. Enjoy.

Pizza Oven as Bun Warmer

Over the years we have (rightfully) been poking fun at one of our competitors in the commercial pizza oven market who are located in the great Northwest. They sell a good number of ovens, but on closer examination you see that most of their ovens go to chain restaurants and hotels who don’t really know how to use a real pizza oven. They use them to re-heat pre-made pizzas and “oven roast” chicken. My favorite was an Embassy Suites hotel in Northern California who use their oven to keep bakery goods warm for breakfast. Pizza oven as bun warmer.

You also see their ovens in zoos, theme parks and airports. I’m sure it’s a great business, but as an organization, Forno Bravo wants to work with people who are committed to their craft and really care about their food. We want to work with the best restaurant in town, not the one owned by a conglomerate.

Which brings me to Saturday. Walking around Cambridge, we were in need of coffee, and the really good local coffee bar isn’t open on weekends, so we found a Cosi, a coffee/bakery chain in the Northeast that uses these ovens. Hey, I needed a cup of coffee.

And all at once I was reminded why I don’t like this oven. It was sitting there all done up and looking nice, but basically acting like a bun warmer. It is a gas oven set to 475F with an itty-bitty little flame in the back, that is baking focaccia, heating up sandwiches and making some really awful pizza. haha. I thought I would share a couple of photos. At least the enclosure looks nice. All dressed up, but….