Should Your Pizza Food Truck Use a Wood Burning Oven?
Since its introduction, pizza has been a favorite meal for Americans, so why wouldn’t pizza become a favorite menu item on food trucks since they have hit American streets?
We have assisted a few pizza vendors in developing and executing various types of pizza concepts in the last year. Having worked with various types of ovens (gas-fired, electric and wood) we are often asked to explain the difference on both culinary and operational fronts: Gas? Wood? Electric?
Authentic wood-fired pizza can require a great commitment of labor, capital and training. Any mobile food vendor who chooses this path needs to do so from an essential passion for the authenticity of this method. Without this core passion and belief, the financial, operational, spatial, environmental and training requirements are not justified.
So what are the initial questions that an food truck owner who wants to make pizza should take?
Does the concept really require a wood-burning oven?
Will using a wood burning oven make the defining difference? Wood is not and has not been essential to making great pizza. Great pizza can be produced in gas and electric hearthstone ovens – or even a conveyor.
Great ingredients, consistency of execution, good recipes and proper cooking; no matter the fuel source, make great pizza.
Do you have space?
You must know your menu to project the volume of sales you need to make a profit which will determine the size of the oven you can build. Please note the size of your mobile kitchen will need to also be considered when determine how large an oven you can build. Along with the space is the venting, which can be expensive for a wood-burning oven. In some cases, the venting can cost more than the oven. You also need to figure in the cost of cleaning hoods and ducts, which is critical for fire prevention within your food truck.
Do you have a reliable source of wood?
It’s costly and must be stored (inside and outside of the truck) and dried properly. That cost must be factored into food costs or else profitability can erode. Another skill set to consider is managing the fire. Feeding the wood properly is critical for a consistent oven temperature. Employees must be trained to turn, rotate, lift and monitor each pizza so that it cooks correctly.
Can you burn wood in your area?
Food truck vendors need to be absolutely sure of the wood-burning codes in their areas. Cooking over wood is banned in some places. Even if it’s not, how will the vented smoke affect the neighbors in the spots you park your truck?
Once you have answered all of these questions, you should confidently be able to proceed with the way in which you cook your food truck’s pizza items.