Old 12-11-2010, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Jacksonville,Fl
Posts: 167
Default Cooking for 50 tonight. How to manage the heat

We are hosting a retirement party tonight. We think it will have 50 people, but may have 70. (we have a big dance room overlooking my new outdoor kitchen/WFO, so with the dancers, this thing could get big.) So, the wife started making dough last night, and continues to make it. It's noon right now. I have 6 hours till this thing starts. We will shoot for 25 pizzas.

The advice I need is:

A) start the fire perhaps 2 hours before?
B) run the temp up to maybe 800?
C) get a bigger than normal pile of coals, in order to rake forward to refresh the floor?

Any last minute advice is appreciated. I have only cooked about 18-20 pizzas so far since I completed my oven, and am still getting used to it.


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Old 12-12-2010, 05:28 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Jacksonville,Fl
Posts: 167
Default Re: Cooking for 50 tonight. How to manage the heat

Well, here I am, next morning, 8 am, last guest left at 4 am. The wife took the dough, made the pizza shape on cardboard that she cut up from moving boxes, covered them with cling wrap, and stacked them upon each other in the fridge. She made 26 doughs.

I got the dome white, lots of coals. By the time we were about ready to cook, it was mid 800's, but I had a big firepit on the back deck with wood that just wasn't starting. So, metal peel by metal peel of red coals were transfered from oven to firepit, and pretty soon, the firepit was going. Then the oven dropped to mid 700's.

A female guest worked inside with my wife putting on sauce cheese etc, and one by one they were brought out to me. One of the guys took a keen interest in the cooking and after watching me do 3 or so, I let him cook one, and after that, if I was busy (like directing new guests in their parking efforts) he would fill in for me.

Rice flour is a great releasing agent. We had no accidents. The dough would slide back and forth on the cardboard and then smoothly into the oven. Not even one piece of cheese went onto the hearth.

I am very tired but very happy.

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Old 12-12-2010, 05:53 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: MN, USA
Posts: 346
Default Re: Cooking for 50 tonight. How to manage the heat

Sounds like you earned a good rest! Hopefully, someone took some pics of all the fun. The 'event' is always satisfying, it's just the clean-up that seems to drag out. When we go to someone's house, and we are on the back-end, I like to help clean up a little too... getting dishes at least to the kitchen, moving chairs back to their proper locations, gathering leftover food for disbursement to guests or storage.
My oven (for now):

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Old 12-12-2010, 07:02 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Jacksonville,Fl
Posts: 167
Default Re: Cooking for 50 tonight. How to manage the heat

The key to the mass cooking was a hot oven and my wife's quasi inventing the cardboard with stretched dough covered by saran wrap and stacked into the extra refridgerator. Each shelf held a bunch of cardboard stacks, ready to be pulled and topped. Again, the rice flour never failed me. The pizza would slide about on the cardboard and the cardboard was used to slide the pizza into the oven and then the pizza went right back onto the same cardboard for slicing and serving. We never once used our wooden peels. Of course, the real work went down with the metal peel.

for quite a while the pizza inside went as fast as we could cook them, but at about 20 pizzas, people started slowing down.

Really fun time. Really happy with the oven performance.
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