I’ve been pretty busy settling into life here in Ann Arbor. I’ve been biking everyday into work at Mani Osteria which I’ve been working at full time.
This past week I was “promoted” from Garde Manger station (salads, cold aps, and desserts) to working our 2 wood fired ovens. this Tuesday and Wednesday were my first days working the ovens and getting trained. It’s a lot of fun and is pretty difficult to get the hang of, but by my second day of training I was pretty much handling the the oven on my own.
We have two ovens- one which primarily fires pizzas (the one I was working,) the other fires the hot appetizers, toast for cold appetizers, the whole roasted branzino (fish,) chicken, and ribeye. The ovens are a pretty integral part of the kitchen.
I like working with a wood fired oven (my first time is here at Mani) because it requires a lot of focus and the need to take a lot of variables into account. How much over flame do I have? too much? Move the wood and coals around to reduce the amount of oxygen. not enough? Adjust to get more oxygen and air flow through the flame and/or add more wood but just the right piece of wood for the right amount of flame. Then there’s the hearth of the oven, which has different temperatures which are always changing depending on if a pizza was just cooked on it, also depending one how cold/wet the dough is. And more and more variables.
As I said it’s a lot of fun to get the hang of. Right now the most pizzas I’ve had working at once is four, and each pizza takes about 3 minutes to cook (depending on variables… Of course.) Also I find it interesting our hearth retains so much heat it’s always hot, We spread the coals at night, and restart a fire in the morning. Since we are closed Monday the ovens are colder than usual on Tuesday (another variable!)
Here’s a quick photo from my phone. Coals are spread!