The Wood-Fired Blog

Bad Weather and Pizza Ovens

Feb 04, 2016Posted by Kylie H

Photo Jan 09, 12 32 48 PM (640x480)

As a resident of California for the past 17 years, I believe that I can officially claim the title of spoiled summer child. As much as I would like to deny it, I simply can’t take the cold. A brisk breeze sends me running in search of a coat (much to my Virginian father’s amusement), and I adamantly believe that the best way to experience a snowstorm is inside one’s house, preferably with something warm on hand. Light rain is tolerable, even enjoyable, but once the temperature drops and it starts raining buckets, I am out of there.

My aversion to inclement weather is even worse now that I have the Dragon Wagon. (A side note: I really enjoy being able to introduce myself as the Girl with the Dragon Wagon). Pizza ovens take quite a bit of time to heat up to the correct temperature. I have a 36” oven, and on a good day, I can be ready to serve in an hour and 15 minutes after lighting the fire. We typically arrive at a function 1.5 hours before the event actually starts. Set up takes 45 minutes, and after that, we’re just waiting for the fire.

We can’t light the fire until we’re at an event and the oven has been secured. I don’t think California law specifically prohibits traveling on the freeway with a lit pizza oven, but given our fire situation, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in there. So it matters very much that we arrive in time to ensure that the fire will be ready when the event begins.

I purchased the Dragon Wagon in spring of last year, so I had no idea what to expect. Of course, as I say this I’m building you up to expect some sort of crack in the concrete, or a patch of ice while driving. California isn’t cold enough to bring about calamity, but we’ve definitely learned about the differences between cold weather events and warm ones. With any luck, after this season, we will have seen everything and can adjust to any change in circumstances. Unless I just jinxed myself into an earthquake, of course.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Bad weather makes the pizza oven heat up more slowly:

Yes, this seems obvious, and it kind of is, but the weather has weird ways of closing you down. The wind steals heat, the cold means a lower starting temperature, etc. At our most recent event, we noticed steam rising from the front of the pizza oven and realized that it had rained the night before, and water had soaked into the cooking stone. We cranked up the fire, which necessitated adding more wood and brings us to my next point…

  • Maintaining the fire is more difficult:

Another obvious point, until you’re halfway through an event and ¾ of the way through your wood box. Fortunately, we keep an emergency stash in the front of the wagon, but it serves as a good lesson for the rest of our events. It’s clear that moderation is the way to go when portioning out dough and pepperoni, but always pack more wood than you need. It never goes bad, and it’s one of the two things you can’t do without.

  • Scotsmen will laugh at you:

This might just be me, but I have a Scottish uncle who works in an ice rink and whose blood is 2/3 antifreeze. I, on the other hand, huddle in front of the fire during lulls and show up dressed like an arctic explorer. This amuses him endlessly, especially when I complain about what, in his eyes, is a lovely spring day. He’s fond of the saying: If Scots were bothered by bad weather, there would be no Scotsmen.

I would make a bad Scot.

But seriously, everyone should be lucky enough to have a Scottish uncle willing to work every event with you.  He is the king of stretching dough, can fix anything, and is a ton of fun.

Any way, I dislike bad weather, but I love the Dragon Wagon. Also (and don’t tell my crew), being in charge of distributing assignments means, that when it’s cold out, I can put myself on cooking duty, right in front of the fire. 🙂

To contact A Girl and Her Dragon Pizza to cater an event, go to or call 650-556-6939.


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