Ooni (née Uuni) has been around for a few years, but his newest stove, the Koda 16, was launched in March. Like everyone else, I have been at home for weeks with nothing but all the projects I would one day complete.
At the top of my list was how to make decent pizza at home (we don't have many decent pizzaiolo in my city). I had heard about the Ooni oven for a while – mostly through Neven Mrgan's great Instagram feed – so I opted for the Koda 13 and started firing some cakes.
I was immediately in love with the breathtaking results. Tough, Crispy, well-cooked neopolitain-style pizza within 30 minutes of being removed. And I'm not exaggerating. After a couple of disasters that started pizza (which is not as easy as it looks, folks), I ate the product of my own hands and the Ooni's over 800 degree baking surface. Although I'm not even an advanced hobby cook, I have always had a certain dislike of disposable devices. Technology always wins, doesn't it?
The problem with this thought is that it is really impossible to cook real neopolitain pizza at home in the U.S. because our ovens just don't get hot enough. A lot of experimental dough situations have resulted in some workable New York-style pizza recipes for 500-degree ovens. For thinner crusts, however, there is no substitute for this real cooking environment at 800-1000 degrees.
The Ooni delivers this to a standard propane tank in less than 20 minutes. It is brilliant.
Ooni co-founder Kristian Tapaninaho started building a decent pizza oven in 2010. He started baking cakes and realized that there was next to no option but to build a large, expensive oven in his back yard. He started prototyping the company's original furnace in 2012, saying that the design of the original furnace was based on a super simple, but in retrospect, very obvious design limitation: what could they cost-effectively ship?
Due to shipping restrictions, it had to be under 10 kg and fit in a certain space. All construction work on the first furnace resulted from these restrictions. For example, why does the ooni oven have three legs? Because the 4th would have made her overweight.
Within these limits, the original oven took shape and delivered this superheat surface with a simple wood oven unit that more than doubled the original funding goal for Kickstarter. Kristian and co-founder Darina Garland defined this market for pizza ovens with high heat and high results at home on a large scale, together with other later market players such as Roccbox.
I talked a bit with Kristian about how Ooni was doing lately, about the specter of the corona virus and the new business realities that resulted from it.
"This COVID-19 situation started for us in mid-January when our suppliers informed us that they were delaying the return to work from the Chinese New Year," said Kristian. "At the time, there was concern that we would have enough offers for the summer, which of course is high season for us. When our supply chain was restarted, it was clear that we would have similar locks in our main markets. Overall, we have the year but started with a strong inventory position that helped cushion interruptions. ”
He says that Ooni was lucky because the first production run of the Ooni 16 was already in stock when it got really hairy in Edinburgh and the surrounding area. And the team was pretty ready for the new challenge of staying home.
"Much of our team communication has been through Slack, so the team is very well positioned to work from home," he told me. "We have good relationships with our third-party logistics providers, and although they were incredibly busy, they were able to maintain a good level of service, at least on a large scale."
In addition, Ooni has just launched the Fyra, an updated version of the original Ooni 3. It is a wood pellet design that offers a similar quick pizza way to get up and get started. The wood naturally brings an additional smoky taste. At 23 pounds, it's a super portable wooden version of the gas stoves I've played with.
Yes, but how does it work?
When Kristian saw that I was playing 13 with my Ooni, he offered to send the newly introduced 16-inch model to play with. I took the opportunity to make a bigger cake.
My previous experience with the Ooni ovens has been really revealing. Even though I was thinking about indoor options like the Breville Smart Oven, I knew in my heart that I wanted to have that brilliant taste that came from living fire and the high heat that allowed me to enjoy super-thin crust pizzas. I have now fired over three dozen pizzas in the ooni and am getting to know it a little better. Recovery time, rotation needs and cooking properties. I have never used a more comfortable cooking appliance.
I've tried a couple of dough recipes because I know I'm getting questions about them, but I've used two with good results. Ooni's own recommended dough (though I'm hydrating a little more) and this Peter Reinhart recipe that Richie Nakano recommended to me.
The resulting pizzas burst before Umami. The oven enables this strong combination of cheese, sauce and randomly distributed carbonation, which combines into a perfect bite. Your cake goes into some pedestrian zone – whitish dough, red sauce, pieces of fresh mozzarella – and you can see it come to life right before your eyes. Within 60 to 90 seconds, you've turned the simple ingredients into a hot endocrine rush of hearty, chewy flavor.
As I mentioned before, the setup is incredibly easy. Unfold the legs, place them on an outside surface with some support and attach a propane tank. As soon as the light button works, you can step back. A quarter of an hour later you have a cooking environment for which you have to die. The fold-down legs make the 13-inch model ideal for camping or anywhere you want to have your own pizza party. Ooni even sells a tote bag.
The design of the top shell of the oven means that all of the heat is conducted inside and the baking surface in the middle can easily reach 850 degrees, up to 1000 degrees near the back. The Koda 16 has such an incredibly spacious cooking surface that you can easily see on the sides and around the pizza how the crust rises and how the leopard is going. Turning your cake while cooking is such an important part of this type of oven, and the bigger mouth shatters for it.
Heck I even cooked steak in it to get delicious results.
"Our core message has always been" great restaurant-quality pizza at home, "and while the situation is, more people who spend more time at home looking for great home-style options have been strong in our online sales," Kristian said when I asked if there were more people discovering Ooni. “Making pizza is a great way to have fun with the family. It's about shared experiences that bring people together. "
This reflects my previous experience. I'm not exactly "good" in it yet, but I'm stuck and the ooni makes my mistakes delicious. This weekend I was even confident enough to have a socially distant pizza pickup party. Friends and family placed their orders and I fired a dozen cakes of all kinds. Although I couldn't hug them, I could surely give them a freshly baked pizza, and that's probably better for most Italians like me.
In my eyes, the Ooni Koda produces a rare trifecta of kitchen appliances: it retains the joy and energy of living flames, fully delivers its core requirements, and yet remains incredibly easy to use. Highly recommended.