Wood fired pizza ovens have been evolving for centuries, maturing into the igloo shapes made of fire bricks that we know today. These ancient, simple, ovens have cooked outstanding bread and pizza for centuries. What is so different from a Big Green Egg or Kamado style grill? It may be odd to think
If you have not been to this Egg Fest in the GA mountains - you are missing out. Ample parking, a tree-lined thoroughfare, buildings for the vendors, real bathrooms, and Lake Hiawasee in the background. We packed the Egg in the car and put the mobile cart on the back and headed 2 hours North to the mountains.
The site was absolutely gorgeous and we did most of the setup on Friday night before the fantastic covered dish cook's dinner. Thank you to all of the cooks who brought their "A-game" to the covered dish. (If you are going to attend a covered dish dinner - make sure there are a bunch of Eggers there! Wow)
Saturday morning we started setting up for Pizza production. We had 40 dough balls on deck and plenty of ingredients to make a variety of different pizzas.
We cranked up the egg about 8:45 thinking that with a 9:00 gate opening, we would have "tasters" at about 9:30. We were wrong! People showed up at 9:02 and were excited to start tasting food.
This photo was taken at about 11:00. See the line in the background? We had great folks coming by all day long. There were many questions about how to handle dough and transfer it to the pizza stone. We tried to do as many demos as possible. I even had a challenger watching my every move to see if one would stick to the peel. I had one stick to the peel late in the day - we got a little more cornmeal on that edge and it slid right in.
My good friend Mark was a substitute pizza chef for this event. He actually volunteered for this. For those who watched and tasted, Mark had only made 4 or 5 pizzas before this event. I think you will agree he did a great job.
With the help of both of our daughters we cranked out and served pizzas. At about 12:30 it was time to add charcoal. So our first load of charcoal lasted nearly 4 hours. This is a new record for the Pizza-Porta cooling crew! We reloaded and after a 10 minute warm up we were cooking again. We realized that we had already cooked 28 pizzas! Only 12 left for an event that lasts until 3:00!
We were so busy that we didn't take very good photos of our creations. This Margarita was near the end of the day. We slowed our pace a bit and ventured out to taste some of the fantastic dishes from our Egg neighbors. Shout out to elk sausage, stuffed peppers, and some sort of pork extravaganza on a tooth pick.
We got to meet some legendary eggers and some who were taking the plunge by buying an Egg at the festival. Welcome to the family! Thank you to all the organizers. A special thank you to Crane Creek Vineyards for agreeing to share booth space. See you next year!
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Post trip update:
While unpacking, I found the leftover charcoal from the entire day of cooking pizza.
On Saturday, May 7th, we joined a fellow entrepreneur and friend Evan, from Hedgehog Lacrosse,for our first real-live barbecue contest. Smoke on the Lake is a fundraiser for the Rotary club of North Cobb County, GA. This event gave us a chance to test out some changes in our hinge design. Cooking Friday night and five hours on Saturday gave us lots of time to test. We also got to some Pizza R&D. Hedgehog Lacrosse has a snazzy tent and trailer that we enjoyed over the 2 day event.
We setup at this beautiful setting on Lake Allatoona near Acworth, GA on Friday night. Not knowing what to expect we only brought 10 pizza doughs along for the night. The crowd finished those off in no time. We enjoyed Evan's fantastic wings, a concert and fireworks to end the night.
Early Saturday morning we put the Pizza-Porta to work roasting peppers while getting up to temperature.
After the pizzas starting rolling out, we had some guest pizza makers show up to help. Our kids basically took over operations.
The day was picture perfect with blue skies and a great crowd. We even got a sneak taste of the winning ribs submission and second place chicken winner - thanks to our neighbors - Team Sweetbottom. They pulled an all night effort and took home some hardware.
On the pizza R&D front, we tried some different combinations. We stripped the meat off a batch of chicken wings and added hot sauce, blue cheese, and mozzarella to make a wing pizza that was fantastic. Then, to test chicken thighs, we added roasted garlic, and Fontina cheese. It really brought out the flavor of dark grilled chicken. Another notable experiment was testing different versions of pulled pork.
After an evening and a whole day of open and closing the Pizza-Porta - we are satisfied with the new hinge design. On to production.
Thanks kids for running the show for a while!
Make your own hand-crafted pizza this weekend.
We were planning to do an event at on offsite location. It is better to roll out dough on a granite countertop that is easy to clean and has a smooth texture. I came up with this simple, cheap, tile solution.
I visited a major floor and decor tile outlet and found this large 23" by 23" ceramic tile. As you can see it is hard to tell that it is not real marble. The marble tiles would have worked, but this tile was less than $10. I will bet that you could just lay this tile on your BGE table and it would be fine for years. I am a classic over-doer so I rough cut a $12 piece of cement backer board glued it to the back and then used a trim bit on the router to trim it flush.
This makes a perfect surface to press out your dough right next to the Big Green Egg. This size also leaves room for your tomato sauce, onions, mushrooms, and BBQ pork in containers around the edge.
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After long deliberations we attended our first food festival. We were afraid to show the Pizza-Porta to anyone who might knock it off an go into production. Our patent is pending, so we hope that does not happen. We set up a couple objectives for the show: 1) Can we make authentic pizza from scratch on-site? Oh, and there will be 1200 people! 2) Does this crazy design work with off the shelf eggs? 3) Does anyone else think this is a good idea? 4) How do we get a "buy" signal?
The Pensacola Eggfest turned out to be a fantastic event. Everyone we met was helpful and supported everything we needed to do our cooking. We realize that pizza at a BBQ festival might seem a little weird, but the crowds were fantastic. We are proud to be part of this event and also to support Chain Reaction.
How did it turn out for us? 1) affirmative - We made dough for 50 pizzas - we put a stacked pizza stone in one BGE and a single in another. We cooked every single pizza! One egg was still on the first load of BGE charcoal at the end! Steady 600F degrees from 10:30 till 2:00 cooking the majority of the pizzas. We heard that our pizza was delicious, with just the right crunch. 2) affirmative - We placed the two Pizza-Porta's in their eggs, slid them around a little to ensure the fit, and then started cooking. 3) affirmative - We had a great number of folks tell us that this was a good idea. Thank you Big Moe Cason, Chris Grove, and Big Green Craig for the shout-outs. 4) affirmative - We hope to be shipping in a few months.
Backyard Gourmet Pizza Peelers was our team name for the event. Special thanks to our wives for the hall pass, and for jumping in to help!
Here are some other photos: