Transitioning into private cheffing from the restaurant world has its share of challenges. There are many things restaurant chefs take for granted and we often go into shock when confronted with the reality of tasks such as peeling and chopping our own garlic, washing our own dishes and, for me the worst of all, trying to make pizza without a wood burning oven.
I was spoiled in my restaurant years as the majority of them were spent in restaurants that featured wood fired pizzas and while I do think it possible to make a darn good pizza at home, I also think that it takes practice and lots of experimentation.
Graced with a powerful convection oven at work, I have been able to make pretty decent pies, but had been feeling like they were lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. Then I stumbled upon an article in the L.A. Times describing an incredibly simple way to transform your home oven into a brick oven and knew that I had to give it a try.
The article suggests placing a standard square pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven and then surrounding the stone with numerous fire bricks. When brought to proper temperature, the bricks encase the pizza with a tremendous amount of heat, thus allowing the pizza to cook quickly and evenly.
I tried to reproduce the oven in the article, but had trouble locating the fire bricks. Instead I bought a second pizza stone and placed it on the rack above the first stone and tucked large sheets of aluminum foil under the stones to insulate the sides.
The result was a far better home made pizza than I had ever before produced and for the first time I was able to achieve the char blistering I so fondly associate with wood burning ovens.
I think that finding fire bricks to put on the sides of the stones will be the final piece needed to complete the home pizza puzzle.