We already know how popular pizza can be. In fact, according to the Washington Post, Americans consume roughly 350 slices per second, and nearly half of the country eats pizza at least once a week. For the rest of you? Well, we're not sure we can be friends.
All kidding aside, the continuous rise in pizza popularity is driven, in part, by the various styles of pizza available. We're well beyond the standard New York versus Chicago argument. Now we have Naples, Detroit, and California to consider, as well.
Of those trends, wood-fired pizza is certainly a fan favorite, and like other pizza styles, the style is often directly linked to the cooking process. Or, in this case, the oven. Wood-fired pizza ovens are some of the most popular cooking tools in all of foodservice. They can cook pizzas quickly and impart a unique smoky flavor that customers love. Pizza is not the only thing you can cook in a wood-fired pizza oven, though.
Here are five creative uses of a wood-fired pizza oven in commercial food service:
Roasting Meats: One of the biggest advantages of a wood-fired oven is its ability to reach high temperatures quickly, making it ideal for roasting meats. The oven's intense heat can create a crispy exterior and juicy interior for chicken, pork, beef, and even fish. The smoky flavor from the wood adds an extra dimension of flavor to the meat that cannot be achieved by cooking it in a conventional oven.
Baking Bread: Baking bread in a wood-fired oven creates a unique crust and flavor profile that is difficult to achieve with a conventional oven. The oven's high heat and even temperature distribution create the perfect environment for baking artisan bread, focaccia, and sourdough. Customers are increasingly interested in high-quality, handmade bread, making this a great option for bakeries, cafes, and restaurants.
Cooking Vegetables: Wood-fired ovens are great for cooking vegetables, too. The oven's heat and smoky flavor can enhance the natural sweetness and earthy flavors of vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. Grilled vegetables can also make a great side dish or topping for pizzas.
Grilling: In addition to roasting and baking, a wood-fired oven can also be used for grilling. The oven's high temperature and even heat distribution make it ideal for grilling meat, fish, and vegetables. Grilled items have a unique flavor profile, which the smoky flavor of the wood can further enhance.
Desserts: Wood-fired ovens can be used for making delicious desserts, too. Pizzas aren't the only item that can be made in the oven. For example, fruit tarts, pies, and custards can be made in the oven. The intense heat from the oven can caramelize the sugar on top, creating a crispy and delicious topping.
What else can wood-fired ovens do in commercial kitchens?
Perhaps the most important piece of a wood-fired oven is the warm aesthetic it provides. Especially on a cool evening, simply the sight of an open flame can provide comfort to customers. Beyond that, though, wood-fired ovens are designed for the front of the house, adding an element of theatrics to the cooking process. Yes, the pizzas and other food items detailed above emerge in high quality, but the cooking process itself helps deliver an overall experience that might also increase impulse purchasing.
A wood-fired pizza oven is not just for cooking pizzas. It is a versatile tool that can be used for various dishes, from roasted meats to desserts. Whether you are running a restaurant, cafe, or bakery, a wood-fired oven is an excellent investment that can help you elevate your culinary offerings and stand out in a crowded market.