The Firenze Concept Pizza Oven is an installation we undertook to take some of the mystery, and perhaps fear, out of the process of installing a wood-fired pizza oven. Detroit has concept cars, so we decided to create a concept pizza oven. Just as the car companies use their concept vehicles to test out new idea and push the envelope for technology, features, and design — in a package that is not designed for standard production, we wanted to use the concept oven idea to experiment with various installation trade-offs, to push the envelope for installation speed, and show just how easy and straightforward the process of installing a wood-fired oven can be.
I talk with many people who are considering installing a wood-fired oven, and among the questions I am frequently asked are how challenging installation is, and how long it might take. With this in mind, I thought the concept pizza oven would be a good forum to test various installation options — and to show just how easy and fast installation can be. In fact, we lit the first fire in our concept oven after just 8 hours of work by just one person.
The idea for the Firenze Concept Pizza Oven came about through two separate events. First, we moved into a rental house in Florence in late summer 2004, and our plan was to only be in the house for one year. Having left our oven behind in San Gimignano, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to install a new oven. Still, the commitment to the house was only one year, so the speed and cost of the installation were something to consider.
The second half of the idea for the oven came from the Italian builder with whom I had been discussing local oven installation techniques. I asked lots of questions about insulating materials, different chimney styles, the specific thickness of various layers, etc. I would always ask how most of the local families and builders did it, and what percentage of builders used which methods.
His response was basically that the oven itself was well-made, and that the rest of it was not rocket science. An inch or so of material here or there was not such a big deal, and he always responded to my measurement questions with ranges — between 4cm-6cm, etc. In fact, he said that many local ovens were simply installed on un-insulated concrete pads. While he admitted that this was not the best installation method, his comments got me thinking.
I combined my need to do a rapid installation with the pragmatism of the local approach, and that was the start of the Firenze Concept Pizza Oven. The project had six goals:
1. Make a quality installation that would give me a high-performance oven. No shortcuts were allowed that would compromise performance;
2. Make experiments from which we could all learn on everything from the thickness of insulating layers to the easiest way to build the stand;
3. See just how fast an average builder could install an oven, without compromising the end product;
4.Take the mystery and trepidation out of the process. My overarching goal was to show just how fun and easy installation could be;
5. Demonstrate that you can install an oven without using sophisticated tools;
6. Determine the smallest food print possible to install a good size oven, in this case, a Casa90 (about 35″ internal).
Click here to read What We Learned.
Click here to read the Firenze Concept Oven Installation Pages.