The Wood-Fired Blog

A Girl and Her Dragon – Quest Night

Nov 04, 2015Posted by Kylie H

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It was a few months after the conference that I found myself contentedly looking over my progress. The applications were submitted, the oven was built and beautiful, so is it really any surprise that I overlooked one eensy weensy detail?

Because of a series of comical/endlessly frustrating/I-am-beginning-to-understand-the-attraction-of- anarchy regulatory delays, I hadn’t actually made any pizza (without professional supervision) yet. Easy thing to overlook, right? RIGHT? And my first event was rapidly approaching.

Of course I handled it with the calm and decorum befitting a professional – let’s be honest here: I flailed like a madwoman, as I desperately sourced ingredients, and hurriedly tested different kinds of dough. (Turns out that Your Local grocery store, though a fine purveyor of organic foods, should not be your go-to destination for dough. And that Big Box discounter can supply enough tomato sauce to sink a battleship, or in my case (barely) feed a hundred or so teenagers and their families, in a pinch).

As I said in my first post, A Girl and Her Dragon Pizza originated as a school Quest project, and so it’s only fitting that my first event was catering/presenting at Quest night. Essentially 150 or so sophomores and freshman in the middle of final projects season desperately creating poster boards designed to distill an entire year’s work into a few paragraphs and a 60 second presentation. And doing it well.

We arrived a few hours early to the event, carefully maneuvering the Dragon Wagon into position on the Quad. I’d be right in between the two main buildings, which would (hopefully) mean plenty of cross traffic and hungry people. My plan was to reel them in with pizza, and then deliver my presentation while they waited for the next slice. There is no advertising like the smell of mozzarella and dough.

I’m getting ahead of myself, however. First we had to set up the tables, and get the fire going. I set up my posterboard only to watch the wind carry it away. I’m sure my friends had quite a laugh, watching me grab that thing and drag it, cursing softly, back to my table…twice. Eventually I gave up and taped the poster down. (I also got a great idea for the next time I babysit my cousins.)

All kidding aside, the final set up looked quite pretty. My mother, genius that she is, convinced me to use bright red tablecloths. Said clothes complimented the crimson sheen on the wagon, tying together the whole display. Parents…don’t you hate it when they’re right?

To our dismay, the fire refused to climb above 500˚ in the hour or so we had it going before Quest Night started. However, people were beginning to sniff around hopefully, so we popped our first pizzas in the oven (accompanied by enough cameras to make the most obsessive of publicists proud).

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I gave my speech, a mish mash of technical information, anecdotes, and amusing one-liners designed to inform and entertain. Did pretty well, not to toot my own horn. Unfortunately, the pizzas were coming out every five minutes, not the 90 seconds we had originally predicted. The oven was too cool, and we were stumped.

Lucky for us Timothy Cole, who you may recognize as the COO of Forno Bravo, had graciously accepted our invitation to the event, and if there is anyone who knows pizza ovens, it’s that man. He looked over our fire (probably suppressing a tired-but-amused sigh), and directed us to close up the oven and let the space heat up a bit. Then he showed us how to move the fire from side to side in order to saturate the floor with heat. The result: a pizza every two minutes or so, right on schedule. He also gave us some pretty awesome rocking pizza cutters, which drew more than a few curious onlookers. Truly Mr. Cole was my pizza guru that night and I couldn’t have succeeded without him.

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We gathered so many people that my father, uncle, and sister ended up taking on the majority of the pizza making while I fielded questions. The rest of the night passed with a minimum of incident. Happy parents, happy friends roaming around stealing sustenance off of my food laden table (teenagers, remember?), and most notably a gaggle of happy middle/elementary schoolers descending like locusts and consuming everything we could put out for a good twenty minutes. They were cute enough to get away with it though, because it’s hard to fault a lisping 10 year old with anything (except skipping out on their speech exercises, having been a lisping ten year old myself).

Packing up took a while, and I all but dozed in my uncle’s car on the way home. My sisters, one of who had helped me with the pizza while the other presented her own Quest, were equally tuckered out. After all was said and done, we did a count of the remaining dough balls. We had made 80 pizzas, and if you think that sounds like a lot, wait until next time.

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